Mergers: Big Deals: Compaq: Fiorina's Folly Or HP's Only Way Out?

They come from different parts of the technology universe. Computer powerhouse Hewlett-Packard is an invention factory that has created hundreds of products, things like the handheld calculator, over its 62-year history. Compaq hasn't really invented anything. It sprang to life as an IBM-clone maker in 1982 and shot into the FORTUNE 500 in record time on the basis of its ability to give consumers low-priced machines built with mostly off-the-shelf parts.

But in the current tech recession these two companies have two things in common--a big stake in the PC business and a troubled future. That's why HP CEO Carly Fiorina...

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