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HCL's PC business fades into history

New Delhi, November 17 2013: India's pioneering  -- and for many years, largest --  computer manufacturing company  has  closed down its hardware business after 37 years.  In a reorganisation announced last week, HCL Infosystems   (known originally as Hindustan Computers Ltd),  says it  has  transferred its Solutions, Services and Learning business to  the wholly-owned subsidiaries HCL Infotech Ltd., HCL Services Ltd, and HCL Learning Ltd, while the parent entity would restrict itself to PC distribution.

Harsh Chitale, CEO, HCL Infosystems is quoted in  Hindu Businessline saying: “Manufacturing of PC is becoming less and less a part of our business. It is not our focus for future at all.The hardware manufacturing story has definitely struggled and there is no cost and competitive advantage today in manufacturing hardware in our country.

Founded by a team of  seven engineers from  what was then DCM Data Systems ( including Ajai Chowdhry, Arjun Malhotra, Subhash Arora, Yogesh Vaidya, S Raman and D S Puri ) led by Shiv Nadar,  the new company  was  briefly Microcomp, a seller of digital calculators, before it was renamed HCL in 1976. The company  had a string of  firsts in the difficult permit-licence era: they  launched the first Indian desktop  minicomputer the 8C in 1978,  They offered Indian buyers the first PC  in 1983 -- the HCL Workhorse --  ahead of the IBM PC.  They beat Sun Microsystems and HP to   create  a Unix minicomputer    -- Magnum -- in 1988.

The company continued to manufacture or at least assemble PCs and laptops in India, keeping pace with  developments  worldwide and was the first to  join with Intel to offer Indian schools  the Classmate PC.  But  with new form factors like tablets and phablets making indigenous manufacture unviable, HCLs PC  industry  contributed less than 8 percent of its turnover -- with services   proving to be better business.

The company will continue to distribute  global PC brands, but  the closure of its manufacturing business marks  a sad  milestone in India's computer industry history.

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