3Com: one of the longest running shows in networking

Now consumed by HP in a $2.7 billion deal announced Wednesday, 3Com has a long and varied history, summarized here.

1979 – 3Com is founded, and it turns out that Bob Metcalfe, the father of Ethernet, is the father of 3Com, too. He holds the post of CEO for three years.

1981 – The company ships its first product, an Ethernet adapter.

1984 – Its initial public offering yields $10 million in stock revenue.

1986 – The company relies on sales of NICs, servers and its network operating system 3+ for most of its sales.

1988 – 3Com ships 3+Open, the first network operating system based on Microsoft’s LAN Manager.

1987 – The company buys Bridge Communications, maker of multi-protocol bridges.

1990 – Facing stiff competition from Microsoft and Novell, 3Com gets out of the network operating system business.

1990 – Eric Benhomou is named president and CEO of the company. He stepped down as CEO in 2001, but he remains chairman.

1994 – The company buys switch maker Synernetics, remote-access server maker Centrum Communications and ATM vendor NiceCom.

1995 – 3Com buys hub and switch vendor ChipCom for $775 million.

1997 – The company spends $7.3 billion to buy U.S. Robotics, the maker of modems and Palm handhelds.

2000 – 3Com gets out of the large enterprise switching market and spins off Palm as a separate entity.

2003 – The company creates a joint venture with Huawei – H-3C - in an effort to get back into large enterprise switching. The headquarters moves from Santa Clara to Marlborough, Mass.

2004 – 3Com buys IPS maker Tipping Point for $430 million.

2006 – 3Com buys out the H-3C joint venture for $882 million.

2007 – Bain Capital agrees to buy the company with help from Huawei for $2.2 billion, but federal regulators block the deal. 3Com spins out Tipping Point as a separate publicly held business.

2008 – Robert Mao is named CEO and sets up shop in China where H-3C claims dominance.

2009 – 3Com takes another run at the U.S. large enterprise market. The company agrees to be bought by HP for $2.7 billion.

This story, "3Com: one of the longest running shows in networking" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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