BULL computers chronological history


Groupe Bull, a nationalized company and a world-wide company 1982-1994
Soon after Jacques Stern and Francis Lorentz were assigned to their functions, they had to handle the restructuring of the whole French computer industry, dealing in particular with the Thomson and CGE subsidiaries that had been let out of CII-HB in 1975.
In parallel they had to address  serious financial problems at CII-HB, due, in particular, to carried-over commitments from CII and to the large industrial investment made in Angers plant.
Jacques Stern had the vision of a  world that emerged eventually in the 1990s, a world of open systems where proprietary systems are passé, where software and system integration are the main business. However, he inherited of an IBM-like company, a hardware dominated company where in-house development was the rule, where open software had never been envisioned, and where the sales network was still dreaming of   "locked" customers.
Bull initiated an avalanche of agreements and contracts to try to catch up with this new vision. Many Silicon Valley companies were visiting Bull, as part of their financing rounds.

Bull was also subject to the trend of the French governments to play industrial "Meccano" with industrial companies, forcing Bull to absorb other IT companies in 1983, willing to marry it with Hewlett Packard in 1991 and  deciding finally to abandon the control.

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Jacques Stern

Mar 1982 Publication of Abel Farnoux report on electronics industry policy (Filière Electronique)
28 Apr 1982 Jacques Stern (ex-SESA's CEO) is named Chairman of CII-HB (Groupe Bull) replacing Maxime Bonnet.
May 1982 The "Plan d'Action pour la Filière Electronique" is published by the French Government, dropping scientific supercomputers
1 Jun 1982 Decision to use copper instead of gold for DPS-7 substrates
This manufacturing cost-cutting decision lead to horrendous reliability problems on DPS-7 products.
8 Jun 1982 Signature of agreements with Honeywell
28 Jul 1982 Jean-Pierre Chevènement, minister of Industry, gets Government approval for a 5-years electronics industry plan of 140BF.
Sep 1982 Francis Lorentz (from Lyonnaise des Eaux) named Bull's general manager
Sep 1982 Decision of French minister of Industry to join Bull to SEMS (a subsidiary of Thomson)
1982 sales 8130MF losses 1251MF, personnel 25 600p
10 Feb 1983 "Contrat de Plan" signed between Bull and the French government
12 Apr 1983 departure of Marc Bourin for Logabax France
1 May 1983 Jean Antier (ex-mgr. of IBM Montpellier plant) is named head of Angers plant.
Francis Ackermann is named head of DPS-7 product line, reporting to Jacques Weber.
19 May 1983 Groupe Bull regroups the assets of CII-HB, Thomson's DAP, R2E, SEMS and Transac. Groupe Bull includes CII-HB (for systems), Bull-Peripherals (at Belfort), Bull-SEMS, and Bull-Transac
Oct 1983 Compagnie des Machines Bull sells its Olivetti's 22% shares
AT&T will take an equivalent share of Olivetti, that was repossessed by the Italian company later.
1983 Design of Lyra, a quad-processor version of DPS-7x0 (Leo)
Sep 1983 CDR (conceptual design review) of Ares, a CMOS DPS-7 compatible system
1983 Creation of ABC Bull, a Brazilian joint venture to manufacture DPS-7 for the local market.
1983 results sales 11,639MF, losses 625MF
27 Feb 1984 renaming of GCOS64 as GCOS-7 for DPS-7  systems
19 Jun 1984 Formal start of the project of a supercomputer Isis, a 200Mflops system., for defense and related applications.
Apr 1984 Philippe Picard (ex-responsible of X-25 Transpac PTT's network) enters Bull as head of network activities, replacing Claude Boulle, named at Transac engineering.
Oct 1984 Bull Micral (ex-R2E) is integrated into Bull Transac, headed by Jean Valent.



Revision : 29 avril 2002.