Leading Edge Hardware Products
Leading Edge Hardware Products, Inc., was a computer manufacturer in the 1980s and the 1990s. It was based in Canton, Massachusetts.
Leading Edge was founded in 1980 by Michael Shane. At the outset, they were a PC peripherals company selling aftermarket products such as Elephant Memory Systems brand floppy disk media ("Elephant. Never forgets") and printer ribbons, and acting as the sole North American distributor/reseller of printers from the Japanese manufacturer, C. Itoh, the most memorable being the popular low-end dot-matrix printer, "The Gorilla Banana". In 1984 the company sold the computer aftermarket product line and sales division to Dennison Computer Supplies, a division of Dennison Manufacturing. In 1984, they began to use Daewoo parts, and in 1989, they were acquired by Daewoo, as part of their recovery from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (Shane declared that the costs of a legal dispute with Mitsubishi lead to its bankruptcy.) In October, 1995, Daewoo sold the company to Manuhold Investment AG, a Swiss electronics company. Leading Edge had sold 185,000 of its PC clones in the United States in 1994, but in 1995 sales fell from 90,000 in the first half to almost none in the second half. By 1997 the company was defunct.
The first known computer to be produced by Leading Edge is the Model M, released in 1982. By 1986 it sold for $1695 (US) with a monitor and two floppy drives. It used an Intel 8088-2 processor, running at a maximum of 7.16 MHz on an 8 bit bus, compared to 6 MHz for the IBM PC-AT on a 16 bit bus. The 'M' stands for Mitsubishi, their parts provider.
They began producing the Leading Edge Model D in June, 1985, when they began to use Daewoo parts. That model was described as "the quality is good and the price is right." It was a Consumer Reports "Best Buy." It was IBM compatible, using the same Intel 8088 16 bit processor as the IBM PC, with two floppy disc drives, 256K of RAM, and an amber monitor. The machine sold for $1495 (US) They sold 125,000 in the first 13 months, then reduced the price to $1295 (US).
When IBM started supplying 20 meg hard drives as standard for its newer PC-XT's, Leading Edge supplied a 30 meg hard drive standard. They later released a Model D86 (an Intel 8086), Model D2 in 1988 with a 65 MB hard drive for $2495(US) and a 10 MHz processor (an Intel 80286) and Model D3 (an Intel 80386).
In 1993, Leading Edge marketed the WinPro Series of computers. These computers had then an i486 or Intel 80486 processors. The low end model had an i486 SX25 processor—which lacked an FPU. The i486 DX33 Processor had the FPU in. The computers had a 3.5 inch floppy, a 5.25 in floppy, 170MB hard drive, with 4MB of RAM, which could be expanded to 20MB if needed. Windows 3.1 and MS-DOS 5.0 were the operating systems. The cost of a Leading Edge Computer ranged from $1299.99 to $2199.99 during this time.
In 1994, Leading Edge marketed the Wintower 486 Multimedia PC, with 66 MHz processor, 8 MB ram, 340 MB hard drive, 2 floppies, CD ROM, modem, sound card and monitor for a "street price" of $2600 (US).
One of the programs offered on Leading Edge computers was the Leading Edge Word Processor. It was described as easy to use, created automatic backup copies, and loaded in 256 K of RAM, described as a "large" amount. With the program in memory, both floppy drives were available for storage. It was introduced in 1983, and sold in 1984 for $100. (U.S.) LEWP, as it was called, was a very easy to use word processor that had features that were bred into newer systems a great deal later. It automatically fixed transpositions on the run, a feature not seen in more sophisticated contemporary word processing programs.
In 1984, Leading Edge also released an innovative database application called Nutshell (developed by a company called Nashoba Systems and distributed by Leading Edge). Nutshell was an earlier form of a program later released as FileMaker and subsequently FileMaker Pro.
- "Deal by Daewoo," New York Times, June 1, 1989, pg. D4
- Steve Lohr, "Frustrated users sue PC maker over busy signals on "help" line," New York Times, 6 February 1996, pg. D10
- David O. Dabney, "Power Down:Apple Buys Its Own Clones," Weeklywire.com, 15 September 1997, refers to " the now defunct Leading Edge PC clone company"
- Peter H. Lewis, "Peripherals: Leading Edge: One name, two computers," New York Times, March 18, 1986, pg. C5
- "A thrifty and practical computer from Korea," New York Times, July 16, 1985, pg. C4
- Nicholas D. Kristof, "Low-priced cars and electronics from South Korea flooding the U.S.," New York Times, 31 August 1986, pg. A1
- Eric Sandberg Diment, "Race for hard drive horsepower heats up," New York Times, 9 September 1986, pg. C4
- L.R. Shannon, "A powerful XT clone," New York Times, March 17, 1988, pg. C9
- Angela Gunn, "Not on the cutting edge - Leading Edge Products' WinTower 486 multimedia PC - Hardware Review - Evaluation," Home Office Computing, July, 1994. retrieved 31 October 2006
- "Word processing," New York Times, 28 October 1984, pg. AS 24.
- Compute! Issue 86, July 1987. IBM Compatibles - The Universe Expands refers to Leading Edge as a "young and aggressive" company.