NEW YORK -- In 1980, when Apple Computer went public, then-president Michael M. Scott marked the passage by sending a wreath of black roses to Digital Equipment Corp. Chairman Ken Olsen.

It was a typical bit of Apple arrogance: the upstart pioneer in personal computing firing a shot across the bow of the then-struggling maker of minicomputers.

But things change fast in data processing. Last week, Apple Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Sculley came here to pay homage to a resurgent Digital Equipment Corp. at a trade show for users of Digital's line of VAX minicomputers.

And Sculley won a standing ovation at his packed keynote address at the Dexpo trade show that was dominated by talk of last month's agreement between Apple and Digital to make their machines, the Apple Macintosh and Digital's VAX, work hand-in-hand.

"When the Macintosh was introduced four years ago, nobody at Apple dreamed that we would ever participate in a major Digital conference," Sculley said. But, "the market Digital created and the market Apple created are starting to need each other," he added. Digital's "technical users are beginning to realize how important usability is. And {Apple's} nontechnical users are beginning to demand more power and functionality."

Everywhere at the Digital show, there was evidence of the new alliance. Apple rented more floor space at the show than any other exhibitor, and dozens of other companies showed off computer networks featuring the ease of use of the Apple Macintosh and the raw computing power of Digital's VAX line.

TechSouth Inc., a unit of BellSouth, showed off a Macintosh and VAX-based typesetting system that telephone companies in six states last year used to put together over 100,000 display ads for Yellow Page directories. About a dozen employees working at Macintosh terminals can do the work of about 60 typesetters, said TechSouth vice president Dewey C. Anderson, who has targeted the newspaper industry and advertising agencies for future sales of the system.

"What you are seeing here is symptomatic of the growing entrenchment of the Mac in corporate environments," said Brian McGann, vice president of Touch Communications, a Scotts Valley, Calif., software developer.

"The liaison gives Apple legitimacy in the business market," said Corey Sandler, editor of Digital News, a biweekly newspaper for VAX buyers. "For DEC, whose most celebrated failures have been at the personal computer level, the deal boosts Apple at the expense of IBM and makers of IBM-compatibles."