Concurrent is a worldwide leader in providing digital on-demand syste ms to the broadband industry and real-time computer systems for indus try and government. The company’s two business areas, On-Demand and R eal-Time, leverage the best of Concurrent’s technology and mission-cr itical experience to deliver solutions to a diverse global customer base.
History of Concurrent Computer Corporation
Concurrent Computer Corporation is a global supplier of high performa nce computer systems. The company has been a pioneer in the field of real-time computing and parallel processing. Formed in the 1960s to s erve the scientific and engineering market, Concurrent has expanded i ts reach to the financial and medical administration industries. Its hardware and software powers a wide variety of applications including video-on-demand, process control, data acquisition, and simulators. Leading products include the MediaHawk video-on-demand and RedHawk, a Linux-based, real-time processing system. The company is active in m ore than 30 countries.
Interdata, Inc. was established in 1966 by former IBM engineer Daniel Sinnott and others. A pioneer in the minicomputer industry, Interdat a focused on the technical market and was turning a profit by the end of the decade.
In 1974 Perkin-Elmer Corporation, a Norwalk, Connecticut producer of scientific instruments, optics, and semiconductor manufacturing equip ment, acquired Interdata Communications Inc. for $63.6 million. B y this time, Interdata had annual sales of $19 million; Perkin-El mer’s were about 12 times greater. Interdata soon moved into a new he adquarters in Oceanport, New Jersey.
Later in the decade, Interdata underwent a management shift and focus ed on the high end of the market for 32-bit minicomputers, which incl uded applications in flight simulation, seismic analysis for the ener gy industry, and transaction processing for the financial services in dustry, noted the New York Times.
Interdata claimed the first full 32-bit computer in 1974. The company then became a proponent of the parallel processing approach to numbe r crunching, wherein multiple tasks were performed at once, rather th an one by one as in serial processing. This made real-time computing a possibility, with a plethora of applications in business and other markets.
The Interdata name was lost as the company became the basis for Perki n-Elmer’s Data Systems Group. The business had a bad year in 1982 and underwent some cost-cutting before the parent company decided to spi n it off.
Spun Off in 1985
Concurrent Computer Corporation (formerly Interdata) became an indepe ndent company in November 1985. Its initial public offering on the NA SDAQ raised $37 million; Perkin-Elmer retained about 80 percent o f equity. Concurrent soon entered a partnership with Nippon Steel Corp. to deve lop a presence in Japan. However, the newly independent company was e xperiencing a difficult start. A nine-month product delay of a new &# 36;1 million parallel processing system compounded the company’s trou bles in a slow market. Sales slipped 7 percent to $244.8 million as profits were halved to $6 million in the company’s first year of independence.
Perceiving a market shift towards cheaper open systems, in October 19 88 Concurrent merged with Massachusetts Computer Corp. (Masscomp), a $76 million producer of UNIX-based microcomputers whose equipment had been used in the Space Shuttle program. Though smaller, Masscomp was the surviving entity, and changed its name to Concurrent. The de al cost Masscomp $240 million, two-thirds of it borrowed. The original Concurrent had about 2,800 employees then, four times as many as Masscomp. James K. Sims, the president and CEO of the origin al Concurrent, also headed the merged company. He had originally join ed Interdata in 1974 as a sales representative. The newly combined company had the ambition of becoming number one in the real-time computing market. However, in spite of unique tax adva ntages, some cost savings from layoffs, and a leading position in the $5 billion real-time systems market, there were signs of danger from the beginning.
Early 1990s Debt Crisis
Sales were about $300 million in 1990. Concurrent went through so me hard times in the early 1990s as defense spending fell. A new CEO, former Penn Central Industries Group Inc. head Denis Brown, arrived in September 1990 just as the company was going into default on its h eavy debt from the Masscomp merger. There were reportedly also consid erable corporate culture differences to overcome after moving Masscom p production to Concurrent’s New Jersey facility, leading to a signif icant delay in a new UNIX product.
To put the company back on track, Brown stalled with the company’s le nders and bondholders (some of which, including the Bank of New Engla nd and a couple of troubled thrifts, were facing insolvency themselve s) while letting go of more than a quarter of Concurrent’s 3,200-stro ng workforce and cutting back on research and development and real es tate. (Company CFO James P. McCloskey discussed the contentious finan cial negotiations in some detail with American Banker in early 1992.)
Revenues were down to $222 million by fiscal 1992. Brown was look ing for growth from more advanced battlefield simulators as well as a new line of administrative products for hospitals. Concurrent had sa les of $179 million in 1994. It would soon grow with a major acqu isition, the purchase of the rival real-time business of Harris Corpo ration in 1996. This business had been formed in 1967 as Datacraft. Harris bought it in the early 1970s and renamed it the Harris Computer Systems Divisio n. It was spun off as Harris Computer Systems Corp. in 1994. In June 1996, Concurrent acquired the spinoff’s $40 million-a-year real-t ime computer business in a stock swap worth $30 million. (Harris Computer Systems was subsequently renamed CyberGuard Corp. after its remaining firewall product.) Concurrent had previously rebuffed an of fer to itself be acquired by Harris Computer. Concurrent introduced its MediaHawk Video Server in 1998. This soon b ecame the basis for video-on-demand services from several leading cab le operators. It could also provide streaming content for distance le arning, video conferencing, and in-flight entertainment.
New Home in 1999
In 1999 Concurrent relocated its headquarters to the Atlanta area, wh ich was also the site of its new video-on-demand (VOD) division, dubb ed XStreme. The Integrated Solutions unit remained in Fort Lauderdale . (Concurrent later did away with the divisional structure a few year s later.) Also in 1999, Concurrent acquired a competitor in VOD serve rs, Vivid Technologies of Chalfont, Pennsylvania. The company soon claimed the leading position in the emerging broadba nd video-on-demand market. VOD business with cable operators as far a way as Asia accounted for $12 million of the company’s fiscal 200 0 sales ($68 million). By fiscal 2002, VOD revenues had quadruple d, and accounted for more than half the company’s total sales of $ ;89 million. Concurrent was also maintaining its legacy real-time computing busine ss. It was involved with the Aegis radar system that monitored threat s for the Navy. The company was beginning to outfit Navy ships entire ly with UNIX-based, COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) technology. In 2005, Concurrent was acquiring Cleveland’s Everstream Holdings in a stock swap worth $15 million. Everstream, formed in 1999, produ ced business intelligence software. The two companies had been involv ed in a VOD advertising joint venture.