Tandem Computers Inc. has unveiled new computer hardware expected to play an important role in the company's plan to revitalize itself.
A new line of computer servers, called ITP (for Internet transaction processing), is designed to build on the company's strength - transaction processing systems - while opening up new avenues for sales.
Tandem, based in Cupertino, Calif., is best known for its fault-tolerant computer hardware, used by automated teller machine networks and other companies that handle heavy transaction traffic.
As consolidation has gripped the industries that Tandem historically has relied upon for sales, the company's fortunes have flagged. Company executives have worked in the last year to find new markets for Tandem products.
Their search led to the creation of six new servers, which each are designed to handle specific pieces of Internet commerce.
"This will be somewhat of an incremental change to Tandem - taking what they have done in the past and trying to merge it with what is happening in electronic commerce," said George Kivel, an analyst at Tower Group, Newton, Mass.
Unlike older Tandem products, which were based on proprietary operating systems, the new hardware is built for the more-standard Windows NT environment from Microsoft Corp.
According to Tandem chief executive officer Roel Pieper, Windows NT "is the ideal vehicle" for the company to "move more Tandem to more people."
Two European banks have bought into the new products, which can be used for either corporate or retail banking tasks, said Norman Goldberg, vice president of Tandem's financial services industry marketing.
Rabobank Nederland of Utrecht, Netherlands, and Bankenes Betalings Sentral of Oslo are "both doing home banking over the Internet with components that are part of the ITP family," Mr. Goldberg said.
The development of the Internet transaction processor marks Tandem's first departure from its proprietary computer environment.
This does not mean, however, that Tandem will abandon proprietary systems. Though some of the new Internet transaction processing servers will be available only in a Windows NT version, others will be offered in both NT and Tandem's proprietary line.
The search for new revenue opportunities also has led Tandem to invest in, and form partnerships with, other technology firms.
Along with Bankers Trust New York Corp., Tandem has invested in Interval Inc., an Austin, Tex., firm that develops electronic payments applications.
Working with Interval, Tandem is interested in developing "the infrastructure that lets people do the digital rights and the micropayments," Mr. Goldberg said.
Analysts said the new strategies should help pull Tandem out of their revenue plateau.
"I think on a long-term basis, it will be good for Tandem," said Wendy I. Abramowitz, an analyst with Argus Research.