PC vets remember when 'computers from Iowa' catapulted Gateway 2000 to mail-order PC prominence. Those days are long gone, and today Taiwan's Acer announced it's buying Gateway for $1.90 per share (or about $710 million). Acer and Gateway expect the process to wrap up in December of this year . It's a huge comedown for the one-time PC powerhouse, which a decade ago turned down a $7 billion dollar buyout offer from Compaq.
The upside? Acer will jump ahead of China's Lenovo to become the world's number three PC maker. The downside: another icon of the PC business of the 1980's has been swallowed up. Ironically, it was Lenovo's purchase of IBM's PC business in that helped catapult it to its (now former) number three position, and it was Acer's acquisition of Texas Instrument's TravelMate and Extensa notebook computer lines in January 1997 that helped fuel its growth a decade ago.
What's the Packard Bell connection in all this? Gateway earlier announced it was planning to buy all the shares of PB Holding Company , the parent company of Packard Bell BV (the former US titan of the low, low-cost PC is now based in France), exercising a right of first refusal it signed in 2006. If GatewayAcer goes ahead with the PB acquisition, it will scuttle Lenovo's attempt to buy PB .
Although Gateway will no longer be an independent company, the Gateway brand will still be alive and well at retail stores like Best Buy.
In 1996, Packard Bell shows how you can "do it all from home," in this TV commercial available at YouTube , annoying librarians everywhere. PB's mid-1990s' computers were named 'number 1' in PC World 's list of the ten worst PCs .
Acer's UK website provides a brief history of the company (which was originally known as Multitech).