BULL computers chronological history

A world-wide ambition

After an initial period of internal reorganizations and of developments essentially focused on the French market, Bull starts an aggressive strategy of international development .

Jacques Stern

Francis Lorentz

1984 Foundation of the X/Open Group by Bull, Nixdorf, Olivetti and Siemens to prepare common standards, based on UNIX.
The Bull's intent was to have CEE (European Union) make those standards mandatory and consequently regulate the IBM de facto monopoly. The goal was also to limit the freedom of UNIX evolution by AT&T labs .
The X/Open group was soon open to U.S. and other Companies and the strategic role decreased.
Bull's active role in X/Open lead to its solicitation by IBM to found Open Systems Foundation.
1984 Creation of ECRC, of a joint venture between Bull, Siemens and ICL, headquartered in Munich.
Activities are focused around artificial intelligence research
1984 Conclusion of agreements with NEC for the distribution by Honeywell and Bull of large ACOS-1000 computers as DPS-90
The DPS-90 was introduced at the upper range of the GCOS-8 line. It eventually replaced the DPS-88 (that was from a Phoenix Honeywell's design) for performances and reliability reasons.
This agreement was followed by a similar contract for ACOS-2000 (project Titan) and in 1993 for ACOS3900 (project Zeus).
A similar distribution contract for ACOS750 (a GCOS7 family system) was also concluded in 1984 (project Aquila).
Oct 1984 Bull takes 11% of Ridge Computers , a Californian start-up designing RISC minicomputers
Nov 1984 Introduction of Bluegreen: a conceptual framework of distributed processing spreading all company's products. The emphasis is put on CTOS-based Questar-400 intelligent terminals
Dec 1984 Introduction by Bull SEMS of SM-90 products
SM-90 was a project of PTT's research lab CNET of a general purpose minicomputer developed on a modular architecture based on Motorola 680000 microprocessors. CNET press for a Bull's manufacturing non-exclusive license of that UNIX machine.
Dec 1984 Introduction of the Californian company Ridge's RISC UNIX computers under the name of SPS-9.
SPS-9 was a powerful workstation, but its external sales were very limited. Bull had to take over Ridge before its eventual vanishing.
1984 results: sales 13,600MF losses 489MF
10 Jan 1985 restructuring Plan to cut personnel cost (PAES) 930p
1985 Creation of Bull-CP8 as a fully owned subsidiary.
The GIE Carte Bancaire, an association of French banks decide to use CP-8 smart cards.
May 1985 Introduction of DPS-90
1 May 1985 resignation of Francis Ackermann as head of DPS-7 product line replaced by Alain Zeitoun
Aug 1985 Creation of CEDIAG a research lab for artificial intelligence
2 Dec 1985 Following a license  granted to ABC for manufacturing DPS-7 in Brazil, the technology transfer begins.
1985 sales 16.1BF, personnel 20 824
1986 Cancellation of Isis, the French military supercomputer project
7 Jan1986 Jean-Claude Picard (ex-Schlumberger) is named general manager of Bull Systèmes replacing Jacques Weber put in charge of corporate technology.
Jan 1986 Initial operation of the new Villeneuve d'Ascq Bull Transac's plant (cost 220MF)
That widely  automated plant was built for microcomputer and terminal assembling
Apr 1986 Initial operation of the new logistics center for spare parts at Paris-Nord II (cost 200MF)
6 Apr 1986 Ares ready to run GCOS
13 may 1986 Creation of Fédération des Equipes Bull, an association of Bull's alumni having the purpose of maintaining the Bull's historical heritage.
23 Jul 1986 Jacques Stern is reconfirmed as  Bull's chairman by the government.
1986 Creation of SIAB, a joint-venture with Olivetti, to design and manufacture banking teller terminals.
Bull Transac keeps the manufacturing rights , but SIAB upper management comes from Olivetti. A specific new plant is built at Cassis.
2 Dec 1986 Publication of Bull's intent to buy Honeywell computer business.
1986 results: sales 17,800MF profit 110MF
Jan 1987 Bull-MTS integrate the assets of Bull-Transac, Bull-SEMS and Bull-Micral
1987 Introduction of DPS-8000 an entry GCOS68 computer produced by Honeywell at Phoenix.
27 Mar 1987 Creation of Honeywell-Bull Inc, headquarters in Minneapolis MN, between Bull( 42.5%), Honeywell (42.5%) and NEC (15%)
Bull had to buy Honeywell shares in Bull International NV (20%)
Mar 1987 Creation of a UNIX product line headed by Bruno Fontaine (ex-Elf-Atochem)
7 Apr 1987 Introduction of DPS-7000 (Ares)
Apr 1987 First shipment of DPS-7000
May 1987 First shipment of DPS-7/1017 (NEC S/750 Aquila)
Jun 1987 Jean Antier takes the head of France sales network, replaced in Angers manufacturing plant by Christian Marchand (ex-Thomson). Didier Ruffat will take the International sales network.
French network organization changes from a geographical basis to a vertical market structure.
22 Jun 1987 Jacques Weber is named exec VP of Honeywell-Bull. Georges Grunberg replaces him at corporate research.
Sep 1987 Jean-Pierre Bénatar (ex-Thomson) takes the head of Bull-MTS
Dec 1987 Closure of the Crolles SEMS's plant, near Grenoble (sold to Thomson)
1987 results: sales 18,070MF profit 225MF
May 1988 creation of X3S a common subsidiary of Bull SA and Honeywell-Bull Italia for jointly develop the UNIX market. It is headed by Lucio Pinto.
Sep 1988 Bull takes a 26% shareholding in PSI (Processors Systems of India) Data Systems in Bangalore, India. The agreements include an assembling in India of DPS-7000, an engineering help on GCOS-7 and DPS-7 in Paris and Bangalore..
Bull shares in PSI will be increased to 40% then 51% in 1989.
1988 Introduction of DPS-9000 GCOS-8 systems (NEC S/2000 Titan)
1988 Roland Pampel (ex-Apollo's CEO) is named general manager   of Bull HN
1988 Results: sales 31,646MF, profit 303MF
Jan 1989 Christian Joly is promoted as head of Engineering at Bull SA (replacing Jean-Claude Picard)
Jan 1989 Jean-Pierre Bénatar leaves Bull-MTS to become secretary general of Bull SA
Jan 1989 The maintenance of Multics operating system is transferred to the Calgary ACTC
Apr 1989 Installation of the sales organization at Paris-la-Défense Tour Bull, a tower building of 38 000sq.m. of office space, 118m high, 36 stories
28 Jun 1989 Jacques Stern resigns from Bull's chairman to proceed on a private super-computer venture. Francis Lorentz becomes PDG of Bull.



Revision : 29 avril 2002.