Printaform released such a novel computer in the 1980s that it shook IBM and Apple. Everything was going well until fate changed.
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5 min read
This story originally appeared on México Desconocido
By Josué Huerta
If you do not want to get angry or have the desire to go back in time, we recommend not reading this chronicle. Because it is about the story of how the Mexican Printaform computers could have become the giants of the industry, much like the IBM or the Macs, but things did not turn out well due to a series of events that could have been avoided. You are warned.
The battle of Mexican computers against IBM and Apple
The worldwide boom in having a personal computer in the office or at home began in the 1980s, first with the arrival of the IBM PC 5150 on August 12, 1981, and then with the launch of the Macintosh 128K . What has been erased from virtually every book in the history of computing is that Mexico entered this battle with the launch of the Printaform Cado Systems computer.
And he entered this war for three main reasons: that IBM and Macintosh computers were very expensive for the vast majority of Mexicans, that President José López Portillo promoted the creation of a “Mexican technology industry” and that Printaform, a Mexican company that was born manufacturing stationery products, already had by the 80’s experience in the manufacture of calculators, electric typewriters, cash registers and other cybernetic devices.
Printaform wows the world with its draggable computer
But the Cado Systems had been only the first success of Printaform, because months later it gave a stronger milestone with the launch, at a US trade show, of the ” Trailed Printaform Columbia with 12-inch monitor “, which represented the future materialized, as people could even travel with it to any part of the world by dragging it like a suitcase and easily placing it under the seat of an airplane.
In addition to the novelty that these teams turned out to be, Printaform, owned by businessman Jorge Espinosa Mireles , offered the plus of selling its products for nothing expensive compared to its competitors. For this reason, probably, Bill Gates preferred to make an alliance with Espinosa Mireles instead of getting into a fight against him in Mexico and other parts of the world, the agreement was for the Printaforms to include Windows .
“Don Quixote of communication”
There is a photo of the signing of the agreement between the two computer technology businessmen , the image dates from 1989. For all these incredible achievements Jorge Espinosa Mireles was called ” Don Quixote of communication ” and his company Printaform as ” The yellow giant “, since it added a team of more than 5,000 distributors and a plant to manufacture computers in Hermosillo, Sonora .
There came a time when the following computer models were distributed through pre-sales; people left cash and checks for up to 5,000 dollars to put aside their Printaform, especially when the multimedia Printaform arrived in which even encyclopedias like Encarta could already be seen and texts could be written with great ease, things could not be better for Printaform, until 1992.
The reason Printaform collapsed as a computer giant in Mexico
In that year Jorge Espinosa Mireles was kidnapped by members of the Clandestine Union of the People’s Revolutionary Workers Party (PROCUP) , who practically bankrupted him and his family after paying his ransom.
Printaform tried to get up, but they did not count on the fact that the Free Trade Agreement would come with the business recovery. With the opening for a large number of foreign technology brands, especially IBM and Macintosh, to enter the country, Printaform had only to accept its exit from the contest to dominate the global computer market.
The brand continues to exist to this day, but now it only sells office furniture. The man who made Printaform great died last January 2021 without anyone recognizing his great effort so that Mexico was one of those that dominated the computer market.