I was a product manager for PC sales for Kaltronics
Distributing in '82. We were one of Eagles first Distributors in the
then prevalent "two tier" marketing system.
Denny Barnhart was President of Eagle when they
had their initial IPO. Denny's options that day became worth over p
million dollars by 3:00PM CA time. He headed to a Marina with a yacht
salesman in his company Ferrari. On his way back to the office he lost
control and crashed almost on the company campus and he and the salesman
were killed instantly. Eagle's management withdrew the offering as Denny
was the guiding, driving force behind the success of the company. When
the re-iniated the offering a couple of weeks later it was as successful
as the first one. Then BIG BLUE came a calling and the rest is tattered
In the end admitted to the building each day
by the guard hired by the bankruptcy court. Eagle begin as a spin off
of a Minnesota company called AVI. AVI made slide show controllers that
would operate multiple 35mm slide projectors. In the early eighties
they made a controller that was in fact an entire computer--a C/PM machine
called the AVI Eagle. They bundled a number of applications such as
spellbinder ( a word processor by lexisoft) and Sorcim's Ultrasoft under
the names Eaglewriter and EagleCalc. The computer had a keyboard design
with function keys dedicated to the bundled software.
In '82, Eagle released the PC, which, as noted,
had no fan, the space under the mainboard for the keyboard, and a bundle
customized and dedicated 105 key keytronics keyboard. The PC is 8088
based, and did use a cribbed IBM bios (as noted). The motherboard was
upside down on this computer, and it was a real pain to find the SW901
and SW902 dip switches needed to put a color graphics card inside.
The Eagle was smaller, lighter, quieter and
a cooler design than the IBM PC, but two things really put the company
out of business.
First, the IBM bios case (eagle rewrote it's bios as part of the settlement,
but the delay the case brought caused all of eagles components to age
one year--and after 1986 every computer eagle sold was at a whopping
loss. And, second, the president of the company died in a car crash
the day that Eagle went public.
Eagle also made a high performance computer
called the 1600, an 8Mhz 8086 based design (believe it or not the world's
fastest desktop computer of it's day) and, later, the Eagle Turbo (a
similar design with custom PLA's to better emulate an 8086).
In 1986, it's last year, Eagle was developing
a client/server system called the Eagle Talon, based on a multiboard
main system powered by 80386 daughterboards. They had also produced
a compaq like "luggable" called the Eagle spirit.
In the end, Eagle's intellectual property was
sold to Korean manufacturer KE&C. No Korean Eagles were ever made,
as by that time the clone system we all know today had taken over.
Eagle comptuers were American designed and built--top
quality units for their day, and incorporated many design innovations.
I am proud to have been part of the team that brought you Eagle Computers.
It was my second job in the computer industry--a time when every year
brought exciting new changes.