Robert Palmer (computer businessman)

Robert B. Palmer (born September 11, 1940) was an American businessman in the computer industry.

Palmer was the final Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Digital Equipment Corporation.


Palmer majored in Math and Physics at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.[1]


Mostek Corporation

Palmer was a founder of Mostek Corporation, founded in 1969 by former employees of Texas Instruments. Mostek manufactured logic, memory, and microprocessor chips. In 1980, United Technologies Corporation (UTC) acquired Mostek Corporation, and Palmer became Executive Vice President of Semiconductor Operations.

Digital Equipment Corporation

In 1985, Palmer joined Digital, and in 1992, he was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).[2][3]

From 1995 to 1998, Palmer served as Chairman of the Board until Digital was sold to Compaq.[4]

From 1993 to 1998, Palmer undertook numerous restructurings, massive layoffs of more than 60,000 people, and plant closings, in an effort to remain competitive.[5][6]

In 1993, Mitsubishi agreed to manufacture Digital's new Alpha 21066.

In 1994, Digital sold its Rdb database software operations to Oracle Corporation.

In 1995, Digital and Raytheon formed a multiyear, multimillion-dollar agreement to upgrade the onboard computer of the US Navy's E-2C Hawkeye aircraft.

In 1997, Digital sold its printing systems business to Virginia-based GENICOM.

In 1997, Digital sued Intel, accusing it of using some of Digital's patented technology to develop the Pentium microprocessor. Intel countersued, accusing Digital of violating 14 Intel patents. To settle the litigation, Digital sold its semiconductor production operations to Intel in 1998.

In 1997, Digital sold its networking business to Cabletron.

On 13 November 1997, Palmer announced that the corporate strategy would focus on the Internet in Enterprise Computing.[7]

In June 1998, Compaq paid approximately $9 billion to acquire Digital, and Palmer stepped down after negotiating the merger.[8][9]

After Digital Equipment Corporation

Palmer has served on the boards of a number of companies, including Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD),[10] SEMATECH, the Semiconductor Industry Association, the Semiconductor Research Corporation, Cicada Semiconductor Inc., and NLine Corporation.[11]

Palmer is on the Board of Trustees of the Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research, a non-profit preventive medicine research and education organization.


  1. ^ Addison, Craig (18 November 2004). "SEMI Oral History Interview". Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  2. ^ Rifkin, Glenn (17 July 1992). "Digital Equipment Founder, Kenneth H. Olsen, Is Stepping Down". The New York Times, USA. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  3. ^ Mcwilliams, Gary (3 August 1992). "Can `GQ Bob' Give Digital A Winning Makeover?". Bloomberg L.P., USA. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  4. ^ Zuckerman, Laurence (25 May 1997). "For Robert Palmer, Digital's Chief, A Last Grab for Glory". The New York Times, USA. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  5. ^ Rifkin, Glenn (16 April 1994). "COMPANY REPORTS: A Deepening of Losses at Digital Equipment". The New York Times, USA. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  6. ^ Bulkeley, William M. (25 October 1996). "Digital's Loss Puts Pressure On Its CEO Robert Palmer". The Wall Street Journal, USA. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Digital Chairman Robert B. Palmer Outlines Company's Strategy At Annual Meeting Of Shareholders". PR Newswire Association LLC, USA. 13 November 1997. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  8. ^ Kane, Margaret (10 June 1998). "Robert Palmer Says He'll Leave Digital in July 1998". CBS Interactive, USA. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  9. ^ Hansell, Saul (27 January 1998). "Compaq to Buy Digital Equipment for $9.6 Billion". The New York Times, USA. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Digital's Palmer Elected to AMD Board". The Register, UK. 30 April 1999. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
  11. ^ "Former Digital Equipment Chairman, Robert Palmer, joins NLine Corporation Board". American City Business Journals, USA. 2 March 2001. Retrieved 21 January 2008.

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