BOSTON - Although there
have been thousands of layoffs in some sectors of the computer
business in the past two years, the Route 128 region of eastern
Massachusetts has been spared the brunt of the downturn.
More than just a road from one place to another, Route 128 - a
freeway that arcs through the suburbs 10 miles beyond this historic
port - is an international symbol ofJapanese competition, Route 128
has been moving from strength to strength as different industries
pick up the slack from those in trouble.
``Route 128 has emerged with the highest concentration of
diversified technology in the United States,'' said A. George Gols,
a public policy economist at the Cambridge-based consulting firm of
Arthur D. Little.
Opened in 1951 to ease traffic in Boston, Route 128 developed
first into a high-technology corridor and then into the jumping-off
point for development that now stretches from the Rhode Island
border into southern New Hampshire and Maine, and from Boston and
Cambridge to Interstate 495, a newer ring highway about 15 miles
beyond Route 128.
Nearly all of the current engines of growth in the region are
based on high technology, ranging from Fortune 500 companies such as
the Digital Equipment Corp., the rejuvenated leader of the
minicomputer market, and Raytheon, a leading military contractor, to
myriad newer computer software companies and medical technology
concerns. Service companies geared to high technology-based
business, ranging from research consultants to bankers, are also
A number of high-technology companies in the region are
producing gloomy headlines. Data General, which has laid off 1,000
people in the past year, and Prime Computer have not bounced back
yet from the computer industry slump.
Wang lost $30 million in the quarter that ended Sept. 30.
Computervision, once the market leader in computer-aided design
equipment, is struggling to right itself after falling to third
place behind IBM and Intergraph.
Polaroid, the world leader in instant photography technology,
has stabilized its work force at 12,000, down 8,000 from
1978.Business is stagnating at Symbolics, a pioneer in computers
designed for artificial intelligence systems, and slumping for
suppliers of equipment to the semiconductor industry such as Genrad.
Nevertheless, the strong performance of neighboring companies
has kept unemployment figures as low as 2 percent in some parts of
the region and at just about half the national average over all.
The Massachusetts division of Employment Security expects
employment in high technology-based industries and services to
expand 30 percent by 1990, with the service sector leading the way,
according to Robert Vincent, an agency executive. …