Thursday, November 12, 2015
Where Are They Now? Hercules
What it was: An extremely popular line of graphics cards for IBM PCs and compatibles. Hercules first appeared in 1982, the year after the IBM PC was launched, and was known for its high-quality text; it was as synonymous with graphics in the 1980s as Creative’s Sound Blaster was with audio a decade later.
What happened: When fancy color graphics replaced Spartan text displays, Hercules continued to be a prominent brand for years, though it never dominated as it did in the early years. But in 1998, it was bought out by competitor Elsa, which then went bankrupt and sold the Hercules brand to French tech company Guillemot. (In researching this article, I’ve come to the conclusion that one sale or merger is usually bad news for a venerable brand, and a second one is usually near-fatal.) Guillemot continued to make cards under the Hercules name for several years. But industry consolidation in the graphics biz was ongoing and brutal, and in 2004 it ceased production of them.
Current whereabouts: The Hercules name lives on, but in an array of tech gadgets that doesn’t include graphics cards: Guillemot uses it for notebooks, Wi-Fi and powerline networking gear, sound cards, speakers, iPod accessories, laptop bags and more. I wish them luck. But it’s a little as if McDonald's stopped selling burgers to concentrate on tuna salad, Philly cheese steaks, BLTs and Reubens.
SOURCE: 'Where Are They Now? 25 Computer Products That Refuse to Die' by Harry McCracken.