The first computer that Gigatronics manufactured was called Ermis (Hermes). Gigatronics was a Greek company; the computer was manufactured back in 1984. It is a 100% Greek computer, not a so called "compatible" as there was no real market standard back then. Ermis featured a Z80 processor, a text only screen, ran Gigatronics-DOS, was bundled with word processing and spreadsheet software and, in addition to all that, it was also a telex terminal!
During the presentation of the Ermis Personal Computer, Mr. Andreas Papandreou, the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, spoke of the "Hellenic Computer Industry". Gigatronics went on to sell some hundreds of computers to the Hellenic Public Sector, but it was too early for the Hellenic market to embrace this computer and bring it into the Hellenic households. This was in my opinion the main reason for the limited success of the product.
In February 1988 the company introduced the "KAT". Just to remind you, there were two standards in the market during that time: IBM and Apple. Well the "KAT" was an Ermis compatible, but also featured a 6502and an 80286 processor making it compatible with both the Apple IIe and the IBM 286 for the price of an IBM 286! More importantly, it was possible to use cut and paste capabilities between all these modes!
Gigatronics went on to announce that it will proceed with the creation of its third model which would be Intel 386 and Mac compatible! Unfortunately this model was never released and for unknown reasons the Board of Directors decided after about 6 months of limited sales to close the company.
What can I say? Perhaps it is was matter of marketing, or maybe there were other (more underground) reasons that lead to such decisions. The history of Gigatronics reminds me of various other examples of companies that have developed systems with capabilities far ahead of their competitors, but which never succeeded, or which had a limited succes. See MSX, NeXT or even Apple....
Contributed by . Images are from Computers for Everyone Magazine, January 1984 and February 1988.