Callan Data Systems - Decline


Although aggressive sales of the Unistar computers won a modest number of industrial and government buyers, with sales peaking at $7 million in 1984, Callan was not selling enough to be profitable. Competitive workstations from Sun and HP running BSD UNIX were gaining market share, and the UNIX System V incompatibilities, though slight, made it even more difficult for Callan to compete. Sales in 1985 shrank to less than half the previous year, and Callan was reorganized in bankruptcy under the control of numerous creditors. After a few futile months of attempting recovery, the committee of creditors voted to liquidate the company assets valued at $1.6 million by public auction in bulk. The Dove family auctioneers, who had famously handled the recent liquidation of the Osborne Computer Corporation, won the company assets for $201 thousand (13 cents per dollar of valuation) in December 1985, and began selling inventory to owners of systems who wanted spare parts or upgrades at full price. After several weeks of this retailing, the Doves held a public auction at the plant site in February 1986, selling the entire remaining inventory to the highest bidders, and reaping many times their original investment. The bankruptcy proceeding eventually paid secured creditors in full. Unsecured creditors were left holding $1.9 million in debt, and in 1988 were paid 1.3 cents for each dollar to finally close the case.

Callan Unistar computers continued to be used during the 1980s. At least one Unistar 300 was still running a critical database application for the US government into the 1990s.

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