BULL computers chronological history

Compagnie des Machines Bull

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The realm of electromechanical equipment 1933-1948

The pre-World War II period was marked by significant innovations in tabulators by Bull, some of them (alphanumeric printing) being unequaled by IBM. That period was also marked by the Callies' progressive take-over of Bull and by the failure of Emile Genon to conclude a take-over agreement by IBM. That failure triggered a patents dispute with IBM (that named Bull a "contrefacteur", an infringer) that was resolved only in the late 1950s.

31 Mar 1933 H.W. Egli Bull is renamed Compagnie des Machines Bull (CMB) . French interests own 75% of shares (out of 11MF) . HW Egli keeps 25% of shares.
The Callies family  becomes and will remain for the next 30 years the main shareholder.
Mar 1933 ATEIC sells its shares of Bull and transfers to CMB the responsibility of the distribution for France.
5 May 1933 Marcel Bassot named administrateur délégué, but Georges Vieillard keeps his own  previous responsibility.
22 Jun 1933 Introduction of T50 tabulator
6 Nov 1933 Confirmation of the exclusive rights to Bull AG for sales in all countries , except France and its overseas empire.
1933 Guillermo KRAFT is established distributor in Argentina (until 1965)
19 Feb 1934 Resignation of Lt-Cel Rimailho as Chairman of the Board, citing disagreements over the financial policy of Georges Vieillard
Apr 1934 Request by Bull to the French government to establish a custom tariff against British and American imports of punched cards devices. (established on 28 Nov 1934 at 25%)
1934 Introduction of tabulator AN7 with alphanumeric wheels at 150 lpm. It was produced until 1968 .
8 Sep 1934 Emile Genon is mandated to explore the possibility of an agreement with IBM. A tentative agreement of selling to IBM 86% of Bull AG is achieved in May 1935.
12 Sep 1934 Pierre Callies (Papeteries Aussedat) proposes an additional shares subscription to avoid a take-over by IBM.
15 Nov 1934 Bull gives to Havas a monopoly over leases of equipments
Dec 1934 First positive operating result for Bull: 816 904F. Net result is still negative.
1935 Bull suffers a lack of capital and requests government's support. for R&D
5 Feb 1935 Marcel Bassot resigns from his position of administrateur délégué and is replaced by Jacques Callies. A new subscription of 2MF is decided.
1 Mar 1935 Joseph Callies enters the company as  technical director.
Nov 1935 IBM (TJ Watson) proposes to buy all Bull assets for 2.8MF (including patents).
3 Dec 1935 Emile Genon transfers 86% of Bull AG to IBM and resigns from the  CMB board.
5 Dec 1935 The Callies family proposes a new stock subscription of 6MF, approved by Marcel Bassot, to avoid an IBM take over.
8 Jan 1936 Shareholders of CMB approve a stock reduction from 11MF to 5.5MF and authorize the new subscription of 5MF
27 May 1936 The Board will propose to shareholders to disapprove the agreements made by Emile Genon with IBM and to denounce the contract with Bull AG as an exclusive international distributor
15 Jun 1936 Introduction of the ST120 tabulator (able to add and subtract)
2 Jun 1937 Resignation of Colonel Rimailho from the CMB board.
1937 Improvement of tabulator by  introducing removable connection panels and connecting a card punch
1937 Operational result of + 2.23MF, net result of 532KF
19 Mar 1938 New stock emission of 5MF
7 May 1938 Ratification of the agreement between CMB and KA Knutsen concerning the patents rights outside Europe.
1938 Introduction of the multiplication in ST tabulator
20 Jun 1938 New stock emission of 5MF (total 20MF)
1 Sep 1938 Franklin Maurice enters the company as director of Engineering
4 Mar 1939 Jean Callies is elected chairman of the Board
new stock emission of 5MF
26 May 1939 Credit of 6.75MF by Banque de Paris et des Pays Bas, for  financing government sales
15 Dec 1939 Creation of Société Belge des Machines Bull, by purchase by CMB of the SOMECA assets

During the war, Bull maintains its activity under German control. It participates to the semi-clandestine effort of René Carmille to establish a French automated census. A participation of CMB management to nazi activities, such as the Jews census, whereas sometimes alleged, has never been identified. The management did not change after the Liberation and the Callies family stayed in control of the company.

Jacques Callies

Joseph Callies

12 Dec 1940 Resignation of Jean Callies as chairman, by application of the law of Nov 16,1940 (about publicly owned companies). He is replaced by Jacques Callies as président-directeur général (Chief executive officer).
1940 CMB made 4.26MF operational result and 1.75net result
9 Jan 1941 Creation of the Service de la Démographie by the contrôleur général René Carmille. He signs a 36MF contract with Bull.
25 Jan 1941 Wanderer Werke from Chemnitz has been given by the German Occupation Authority the responsibility of the cooperation with Machines Bull.
17 May 1941 The Board mandates the Board to acquire the buildings occupied in Paris: avenue Gambetta 92-92 bis, impasse du Surmelin 25-27, impasse du Progrès 19bis.
5 Dec 1941 IBM France wins a suit against Bull alleged infringement of  rectangular holes in 80 columns cards.
Bull appeals.
9 Jun 1942 Bull AG loses the suit against Bull's breach of contract.
28 Jun 1943 Acquisition of ground 157-159 avenue Gambetta for future extension.
1943 Net result of 2.12MF
16 Aug 1944 Stopping of the production  of the French plant until 1 Oct 1944
26 Sep 1944 Jean Callies replaces temporarily his brother Jacques Callies (seriously ill) as PDG (until 1 Mar 1945)
1947 Koenig Petersen named distributor in Denmark (until 1965)
Jul 1948 Creation in Netherlands of Bullatec (joint venture between CMB and Kamatec) responsible for manufacturing sorters in Amsterdam and to market Bull production
6 Nov 1948 Death of Jacques Callies replaced by Joseph Callies as Bull's PDG



Revision : 29 avril 2002.