Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on August 27, 2007
The impending sale of Gateway to Acer and the potential disappearance of the Gateway brand brings back memories of the early days of the PC business.
Back in the mid-80s, BusinessWeek was looking for new PCs to replace our first generation not-quite-clones from Texas Instruments. We evaluated units from a number of clone makers, including PCs Ltd. (which would become Dell) and Gateway. We liked Gateway 2000, as it was then called, the best, so a colleague and I traveled to Sioux City, Iowa, to meet with he company. Although Gateway associated itself from the beginning with cows from Iowa, the state is really pig country and Gateway’s original offices were located above the very fragrant pig exchange in the Sioux City stockyards.
We toured the “factory,” basically a workroom next to the offices, and did a deal for several hundred PCs for BusinessWeek and other McGraw-Hill publications over lunch at the Holiday Inn. It was Gateway’s first sale to a Fortune 500 corporation and some years later, Gateway founder Ted Waitt Jr. told me that they took our purchase order to the bank to borrow the working capital they needed to fulfill the order. Had we known that at the time, we probably would have looked elsewhere.