BULL France

A summary history

During times of Compagnie des Machines Bull, until 1964, the French sales network represented a large part of the sales of the company and the organization was divided in French and export network.

The GE merger caused the embryonic sales network of General Electric, created essentially during the "Bull crisis of 1963-1964, to merge gracefully into the CMB French network. In the fall of 1966, the abandon of the already announced GE-140 caused a big disturb in the network. Several heads of sectors quitted the company, some joined the CII other founded services or software companies (SSII).

The sales network of Honeywell was somewhat larger than GE's in 1970 at the time of the merger, but its integration within Honeywell-Bull went smoothly.

A part of CII sales network was devoted to the process automation market. The rest, including the military sector, was essentially dealing with French administrations. The Plan Calcul centralized the orders to CII through a central agency under the supervision of Délégation à l'Informatique. Although, the problems of installation and maintenance have to be handled as the private sector, the sales operation themselves were quite special.
Under Unidata agreement, in 1974, CII absorbed the Siemens computer sales operation in France that had sold some Siemens 4004 (RCA Spectra 70) in France, in the private sector. But the integration of ex-Siemens was very recent at the time of the merger with Honeywell-Bull in 1975. The merger left apart the process control and the military operations of CII, and the bulk of CII salesmen joined the Administrations sectors within CII-HB.

The actual organization of the French sales network vary somewhat during the time. Its "historical" organization was different in Paris area, where sectors were by type of business (administration, energy, transports, military, distribution, healthcare...) and in province where logistics required   geographical divisions, within a hierarchy of regional and local centers. The French network was never organized by product lines, each salesperson dealing with the whole catalog, what became quite a challenge in the 1980s..

In 1995, Jean-Marie Descarpentries initiated a big change by dissolving the French sales operation and integrated by business sectors within the international operation.


Heads of French Operation:

French Sales organization

Some contributors of the French sales networkare listed here, some of them have been included because their career after Bull.

Jean Dupuis (1941-~1964)
Jean-Marie Ravel d'Estienne (1949-)
Gérard Fourlinie (1951-)
Olivier de la Passardière (1952-)
Louis Orsini (1952-)
Jean-François Dubourg (1953-)
André Rivière

Maurice Travers (1955-1966)
Jacques David (1955-)
Joseph Bourboulon (1956-1966)
Roland de Tocqueville (1956-)
Gérard Livry-Level (1956-)
Jacques Johnson (1957-1965)
Philippe Barbieux (1960-)
Serge Kampff (1960-1966)
André Vincent (1960-)
André Puiseux (1961-)
Geoffroy de Belloy (1961-)
Jean-Claude Sarazin (1961-1965)

French Technico-Commercial Operation

The "Service Technico-Commercial" (STC) was created as a centralized entity in the late 1960s to fulfill several roles:

Those functions encompass functions now scattered in Marketing, Sales, Maintenance and Engineering.

In 1966, STC exploded between Engineering where it became to the core of Software Division, Sales where pre-sales persons were assigned to specific sectors and a Marketing unit that worked on announcements and performed coordination with Engineering and International Marketing where was made the coordination with GE. part of STC was also transferred to the Maintenance network and to the Maintenance education center.

Some members of France STC in the 1960s , who have made significant contribution inside Bull or outside Bull, are listed hereunder:

Henri Adrien
Jacques Pépin de Bonnerive
Louis Pouzin
Jean-Paul Boss
François Sallé
Laurent Artru
Jacqueline Vidal-Bailby
André Bensoussan
Georges Blaise
Jean Bellec
Charles Bordin
Jean-Paul Boss
Philippe Bück
Jean Bourgain
Thierry Chain
Jean-Marie Casadevall
Raymond Chauveau
Philippe Dreyfus
Jacques Faure

Jacques Fourot
Yannick Geffray
Michel Jalabert
Bernard Jeandider
Arnold Kaufmann
André Korganoff
François Le Faou
Hervé Lhomme
Christian Lehmann

Joseph Mesnage
Jacques Newey
Gérard Papelier
Bernard Raguet
Victor Thévenet
Jean-Claude Vernières
Jacqueline Vidal-Bailby


French Maintenance Network

The maintenance organization was originally devoted to hardware trouble-shooting and repairing. At the time of punched cards equipment and early electronic computers, field engineers had to know the behavior of a system down to the transistor level or the clutches tolerance rules.

Progressively, was introduced the concept of "optimum replaceable unit" that changed progressively the work and the skills needed from field engineers. The growing cost of replaceable units, that culminated with the DPS-9000 equipped boards, prohibited the storing of spare parts under the computer room false floor and made maintenance logistics dominating the work.

Electromechanical peripherals card machines, printers still required maintenance for reasons of wear. The strategy was to have some preventive and scheduled maintenance by ordinary engineers and to request the help of "specialists" in case of problems.

Tools were developed in Field Engineering and more and more in Engineering to decrease the needs of specialists in the network.

Initially, Field engineers were assigned to a customer. They had an office at the customer site and so they were the most reliable communication channel between the customer and the salesperson. Maintenance was bundled to the hardware and personnel costs were relatively low compared to the rental fees.

The economics changed in the 1970s, cost of electronics went down, workers compensation went up, unbundling of services emerged. Only the largest sites kept their permanent attendance of field engineers.

For some time, the maintenance activities were quite profitable, because the intrinsic reliability of the electronic components, the cost of redundancy and the improvements of diagnostics have more than offset the pressure to cut the maintenance fees. There was almost no competition to Bull from third parties companies that focused themselves towards high volumes products such as terminals and personal computers.