Dragon Fire Flickers

There was restrained optimism over the fate of Dragon Data last week following its announcement that it had called in a receiver.

Several companies, including Tandy, have expressed an interest in buying some or all of the company - and it looks unlikely that users will end up unsupported.

"There is plenty to buy here, from fixtures and fittings to the whole company," said Dragon's managing director Brian Moore. "It is almost certain that somehow, somewhere, there is someone interested in providing 200,000 Dragon owners with continuing support."

The receiver, Robert Ellis of accountant Touche Ross, refused to comment on who the bidders were or how many of them there are.

He did indicate that he hoped to arrive at a decision on the future of the company in a relatively short time. "But I cannot say whether it will be a week or weeks," he said.

One company that has confirmed a positive interest is Tandy. "We have always made it clear that we are interested in doing something, at least in terms of support for existing users," said John Sayers, UK managing director of Tandy.

"We have phoned through our report and recommendations to the US but it would not be right for me to comment on what our recommendation was," he said.

Mr. Moore cited the continuing difficulty of meeting the demands of the volatile UK market as the main reason for Dragon's financial crisis.

"The 32 and 64 are still selling although not as well as we would like," he said. "We simply ran out of cash."

Clear evidence of the failure to match supply and demand is to be found in Dragon's warehouse where thousands of Dragons are piled up with a retail value estimated at between £4 and £6 million.

One of Mr. Ellis's first acts as receiver was to make 81 of Dragon's 152 staff redundant. The company had 270 staff on its payroll during the pre-Christmas production peak.

Dragon's major difficulty has been in promoting a product that has looked increasingly dated. It is ironic that the receiver had to be called in at the end of the week in which it revealed its new product lines.

Apart from the Touchmaster graphics tabley and 64-based Dragon Professional (Issue 64) the company was also close to announcing a new up-market machine, code-named the Beta.

Mr. Moore said last week that the Touchmaster will almost certainly continue.

A more uncertain fate awaits the Beta. The company had got as far as producing the first prototypes and manufacturing plans were well advanced.