Not all ex-employees are as fortunate as Herb Osher and Joe Forgione. When Data General announced -- in the name of belt-tightening -- that it needed to jettison their three-year-long pet project, the first truly open distributed computing system, it gave the two men the option of taking their work with them. The catch? They had exactly two months to come up with funding -- between $3 million and $5 million. Enter ASCII Corp., the Japanese software-publishing giant, and presto! HyperDesk Corp., in Westborough, Mass., was born.

Forgione, HyperDesk's VP of sales and marketing, likens the company's first product, the Distributed Object Management System (DOMS), priced at $1,995 and released early this year, to building blocks, in this case used to create software to suit individual needs. CEO Osher describes the system as providing users with "software without walls," removing the barriers that currently exist between disparate computing environments, such as multiple hardware and software platforms.

The next computing frontier, the DOMS market is estimated by market researcher International Data Corp. to swell to more than $2 billion by 1993. HyperDesk's list of competitors is formidable -- Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, NCR -- but the Data General spin-off's product has just been approved as the industry standard. The company anticipates sales of $20 million to $50 million within three to five years, and will initially market its product to original equipment manufacturers. Its first customer? Data General.

-- Alessandra Bianchi

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