Packard Bell

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Packard Bell B.V.
Industry Computer hardware
Fate acquired by Acer Inc. in 2008
Founded June 8, 1986; 32 years ago (1986-06-08)
Founder Beny Alagem
Headquarters Nijmegen, Netherlands
Area served
Europe, Africa, Middle East
Products Desktops
Parent Acer Inc. (2008–present)

Packard Bell is a Dutch-based computer manufacturing subsidiary of Acer. The brand name originally belonged to an American radio set manufacturer, Packard Bell, founded by Herbert "Herb" A. Bell and Leon S. Packard in 1933. Some websites use 1926 as the founding date when Herbert Bell was an executive with Jackson Bell Company, Los Angeles, California.[1][2] In 1986, Israeli investors bought the brand from Teledyne, in order to name their newly formed personal computer manufacturing company producing discount computers in the United States and Canada. In the late 1990s Packard Bell became a subsidiary of NEC. In 2000, Packard Bell stopped its North American operations whilst expanding overseas and becoming a leading brand in the European PC markets. In 2008 it was acquired by the Taiwanese consumer electronic firm Acer in the aftermath of its takeover of Gateway, Inc. Gateway products are now sold in the Americas and Asia, while Packard Bell products are sold in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.


The Packard Bell logo in the '90s

In 1986, Beny Alagem, Larry Metz and a group of other Israeli investors bought the American former radio and television set brand from Teledyne[3][4] and resurrected it as a manufacturer of low-cost personal computers. Their computers were among the first IBM PC compatibles sold in retail chains such as Sears.[5]

According to Fortune magazine, Packard Bell sometimes benefited from misplaced name recognition, with consumers (especially first-time computer buyers) and even some salespeople erroneously associating the company with others of a similar name, such as Hewlett-Packard, Pacific Bell, and Bell Laboratories. The confusion was further facilitated by Packard Bell's then-current slogan, "America grew up listening to us. It still does."[5] The company also sold nearly identical systems under different names, making comparison difficult.

A Packard Bell Multimedia D160 manufactured in the mid-1990s

Aside from low price and brand confusion, Packard Bell's success in number of units sold may have come from two areas of innovation: 1) branding and industrial design, provided by the San Francisco offices of frog design; and 2) its boot-up shell Packard Bell Navigator, created by The Pixel Company in Seattle. They targeted a huge section of consumers who were inexperienced using computers. Frog design gave the look of quality and utilized innovations such as color-coding cable connectors (first seen on the IBM PS/2), while Navigator provided the ability for users to launch installed programs by clicking on-screen buttons, and then later a house metaphor.[6] During this phase, returns dropped from 19% to 10%, and sales grew exponentially.[citation needed]

In late 1995 to early 1996 Microsoft forced boot-up shells off OEM computers by updating its Microsoft Windows distribution agreement (OPK 2) and Packard Bell, without a clear on-shelf differentiator, saw sales begin to tumble.[citation needed] Also in 1995, Compaq sued Packard Bell for not disclosing that Packard Bell computers incorporated used parts. This practice was, in fact, widespread in the computer industry, including Compaq itself. However, unlike its rival companies, Packard Bell was judged not to have advertised the practice sufficiently in its warranties (Compaq, for instance, disclosed it in the warranty statement).[7]

In 1995, Packard Bell acquired Zenith Data Systems from Groupe Bull in a deal which saw Groupe Bull and NEC taking a larger stake in Packard Bell[8] to create a $4.5 billion company. The company then became integrated with NEC Computers. Its 15% market share made it the largest PC manufacturer, in terms of units shipped, in the United States.[citation needed] However, Compaq overtook it in retail sales in mid-1996, and cemented its lead the next year with the release of a $999 PC in March 1997.[citation needed]

Packard Bell posted losses totaling more than $1 billion in 1997 and 1998. In the U.S., price pressure from Compaq and, later, eMachines, along with continued poor showings in consumer satisfaction surveys made it difficult for the company to remain profitable and led to Alagem's departure in 1998.[citation needed] In 1999, NEC began withdrawing the Packard Bell name from the U.S. market, while keeping it in Europe, where the brand was untainted by allegations of sub-standard quality.[9]

Packard Bell Europe

Packard Bell's logo 2003–2009

In 2000, NEC withdrew Packard Bell from the U.S. market, selling their Utah-based call centers, all its US inventory and all US product liability to Alorica Inc, who was responsible for providing support to all remaining US customers. Packard Bell also entered other businesses such as MP3 players. In 2004, the company changed its logo and began manufacturing media products for television and wireless networking.

Packard Bell also sells accessories and has started operating on other continents. In September 2006, Packard Bell was bought by John Hui (the former owner of eMachines). Now known as Packard Bell Europe B.V., the company relocated to Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

In August 2007, the Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo confirmed its interest in acquiring Packard Bell in a move to expand its products into Europe by placing an offer for Packard Bell.[10] In January 2008, Acer announced that it had acquired a 75% controlling share in the parent company of Packard Bell due to ownership rights that it had acquired when it purchased Gateway the year before, enabling Acer to counter-offer any third-party bid on Packard Bell, leading to a takeover.[11]

Packard Bell is now under the same Acer corporate subsidiary (and shares components with) Gateway, Inc., a notable former competitor.


From 1996 until 2000, when Strongbow took over the contract, Packard Bell sponsored English football club Leeds United.

From 2009 to 2010, the name Packard Bell has been seen on the FIAT Yamaha MotoGP racebike of World Champion Valentino Rossi of Italy.[12] Packard Bell also dropped their sponsorship from the 4Kings professional electronic sports team.

Possible return to the United States

On October 14, 2016 PBX Holdings purchased the United States Packard Bell trademark from JMM Lee. PBX Holdings is led by a group of investors with experience in the technology and retail space. PBX began manufacturing Packard Bell products in 2017. In June 2017 JCPenney revealed that they would begin selling a line of Packard Bell laptops as part of their expansion into the dormitory market.[13] PBX is currently looking for licensees in varying verticals to bring Packard Bell back to the US market.


  1. ^ Source: Computerhope
  2. ^ Source: Computer History Museum, [1] in Los Angeles
  3. ^ BetaNews | NEC Sells Packard Bell to Calif. Investor
  4. ^ Packard Bell Branding History --Tedium
  5. ^ a b Sprout, Alison L.; Coxeter, Ruth M. (June 12, 1995). "Packard Bell sells more PC's in the U.S. than anyone, so just who are these guys?". Fortune. Retrieved July 23, 2018. 
  6. ^ Lineback, Nathan. "Packard Bell Navigator Version 1.1". Toasty Technology GUI Gallery. Retrieved July 23, 2018. 
  7. ^ "Packard Bell Suing Compaq". Chicago Tribune. 11 October 1995. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  8. ^ Berley, Max (8 February 1996). "Groupe Bull Quits PCs in 3-Way Deal". International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 25 October 2005. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  9. ^ NEC disables Packard Bell NEC, ZDNet, November 3, 1999
  10. ^ Lenovo close to acquiring Packard Bell
  11. ^ Acer Buys 75 Percent of Packard Bell – Washington Post
  12. ^ "Packard Bell sponsor of Yamaha Factory Racing Team Changeover of sponsorship from Acer". Acer Group. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  13. ^ J.C. Penney to open dorm shops in 500 stores Tonya Garcia, Marketwatch, June 6, 2017

External links

  • Official site
  • Support information for old Packard Bell motherboards
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