The story of Paquito, the stupid Intel PC that failed miserably in Spain

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As soon as the new millennium begins Paquito tried to conquer the Spanish market. That was the popular name of the Intel Dot.Station that this firm tried to sell to hundreds of thousands of Spanish users with the eternal promise of “plug and play”. It was just that. A promise.

When you bought a Paquito, you not only bought the machine, but you also contracted internet with a monthly fee that cost 2,950 pesetas, about 18 euros today. That was horrible: Paquito was a slow, closed and limited “dumb PC”which ended up failing exceptionally.

The era of dumb PCs to connect to the internet

Intel presented its Intel Dot.Station in June 2002. It did so with the intention of conquering the terrain of so-called ‘web appliances’, devices intended to facilitate access to the internet.

By then in the United States there was an intense battle to conquer that segment, but the analysts themselves doubted the success of the format. Stephen Baker, an analyst at PC Data, asked “Why would you buy something like this when for a few hundred dollars more you can have a PC with a 17-inch screen?“.

That question is more important than it seems, and it summed up the rise and fall of these solutions around the world. As one of the people in charge of Intel explained, this computer It didn’t make sense if you didn’t contract the internet connection with an ISP.

These Intel Dot.Station were very limited computers. They had an Intel Celeron at 300 MHza 4 GB hard drive, 32 or 64 MB of RAM, a 56Kbps modem, a 10/100 Fast Ethernet network card, a 14-inch monitor with 1024×768 resolution, and a built-in telephone.

Of this product, forgotten by mostkeep a good review this page also now defunct but still available via Archive.org. In it we can see how at that time there were systems like the Audrey from 3Com which was unsuccessful.

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Intel wanted to try with a design that resembled Jony Ive’s iMac which was the evolution of the original Macintosh. From there, they saythe name came up (Macintosh -> Pakintosh -> Paquito, more or less), and the truth is that the team had some amazing ideas, like the fact that that antenna that seems to stick out is actually part of a phone with which theoretically you could make calls and it also served as a microphone.

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on these machines Red Hat Linux 9 was preinstalled with a closed environment that practically gave the user no options to do anything other than surf the internet with the mozilla browser integrated. It was possible to store some data on the integrated hard disk, but not to install other applications than the ones that came by default. The manufacturing cost was around 500 dollars at the time, according to analysts.

The rise and crash of Paquito

That was precisely the idea with which several companies in our country they tried to market it. Banco Santander Central Hispano was the protagonist of the launch of what was then known as AOL Avant, the connection service that formed a fundamental part of the offer. In addition to AOL and BSCH, both Sol Meliá and Grupo Planeta were involved in the project.

AOL Advance, El País explained then, it intended to distribute 500,000 “internet access terminals” among BSCH’s customers and employees. The bank, As it explains someone who was close to those who tried to sell it, acted as a showcase for this product:

“The bank planned to use its client portfolio as clients of this new product as well. We are talking about a time when some banks had converted their branches (or were beginning to do so) into physical product stores and had display cases with saucepans, cell phones and a lot of of other things”.

As this user explains, BSCH employees they ended up becoming telemarketing agents that promised customers a fantastic product—first exclusively to the best customers, who were called by the branch manager himself. The bonuses were juicy, but only if the amount of Paquitos sold was important. Later the superstores they would try to distribute them too.

The problem is that those computers turned out to be much inferior to a conventional computer. “Most people already had a computer at home that worked well and that was also more useful than this gadget”, and that is that Paquito had no storage method other than the hard drive, access to which was very limited. Even as a browser, this user assures, its features were poor.

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When customers discovered to their surprise that they had to pay that monthly fee of almost 2,950 pesetas for rent —not counting the internet connection with AOL, which was required for the product to be of any use— and the limitations of Paquito, they tried to return it:

“That was also planned. The AOL Avant employees took the call and made a note to go pick it up but no one ever came to pick it up, and the customer was not canceled on the grounds that he had not returned the equipment, ergo he was still interested. People started returning receipts consistently and this was the beginning of the end for the Paquitos.”

In October 2002 it became clear that this experiment it had been a disaster. Of the 500,000 customers these companies had targeted only 105,000 had been achievedand both BSCH and Time Warner withdrew from the initiative.

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This user remembers how, two years after submitting all the Paquitos had disappeared. As indicated in El País, 110,000 of those computers that were never sold —that’s nothing— “ended up in the warehouse of the Spanish computer company ADLI.”

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In December 2002, the company Prodigios Interactivos —which had been involved in the original project— relaunched those teamsthat it sold at 299 euros and pre-installed Windows to try to save part of the investment. That news item in El Mundo talks about another 145,000 computers “stacked in a Logista company warehouse.”

Some independent websites They managed to become a reference for users who wanted to give Paquito a new life and “hack” it —with instructions to even change the processor— to be able to access the options that the equipment actually offered.

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Shortly after the remnants of these computers appeared in SubastasPC, a company that managed to remove the Linux that they brought, incorporated a CD-ROM drive, enabled the USB ports and turned them into computers. somewhat more functional when installing Windows XP.

That did not help much, and the Paquitos have ended up becoming a collector’s item that, yes, it is easy to get in second-hand sales services for prices that are around 50 euros.

As soon as the new millennium begins Paquito tried to conquer the Spanish market. That was the popular name of…

As soon as the new millennium begins Paquito tried to conquer the Spanish market. That was the popular name of…

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