BULL computers chronological history

The dawn of electronics 1949-1964
The beginning of that period showed a head to head competition with IBM, an agreement with Remington Rand and also the signature of a Consent Decree by IBM in January 1956 that implied the settlement of the patent dispute with Bull.
The period saw the spreading of the electronic computer technology pioneered by United States and United Kingdom at the end of World War II. Bull started by electronic calculators complementing its successful line of punched card equipments. Then it initiated,  with the Gamma 60,  an ambitious project to compete with IBM's  and Univac's large business computers. Bull ignored  too long the downsized computer market that IBM succeeded to dominate with the 1401.

2 Jan 1949 Bruno Leclerc enters the Company to head an electronic lab.
Bruno Leclerc will later lead the development of the electronic computer in Bull (Gamma 3, Gamma Tambour and Gamma 60)
7 Dec 1949 Creation of Olivetti-Bull , a 40BLIt joint-venture between CMB and the Italian company Olivetti to market Bull punched card equipment in Italy.
1949 Technical and Sales agreement with Remington-Rand: Bull sells to Remington punched devices at RR standards on an OEM basis. Bull renounces to direct selling in the US.
The agreement does not concern the Univac division, newly acquired by Remington-Rand. Bull did not import any product from Remington.
Oct 1950 Introduction of a card photo-reader (also able to read pencil marks), the first electronic equipment of Bull.
1951 Announcement of an electronic sorter to replace the E12 sorter. Announcement of the Gamma electronic calculator.
1951 Large order of calculators and card collators by Remington Rand
1951 OEM sales of  interpreter to the British company BTM
Oct 1951 Introduction of Gamma 2, an electronic calculator using germanium diodes and delay lines, to be connected to BS120 tabulator.
1951 Bull starts the manufacturing of miniature "petits relais" initially in Paris, then in Vendôme in 1953 (25M ex.), later in Angers and Belfort
1951 Introduction of the electronic calculator Gamma 3
1952 Establishment of BOG Exacta Büromaschinen GmbH as a distributor for West Germany (until 1962)
Mar 1953 First delivery of Gamma 3 to Crédit Lyonnais in Saint-Etienne
1954 Introduction of "Program by Cards" in Gamma 3M (previously, programming was performed exclusively by connection panels )
1955 Introduction of Gamma Tambour ( a magnetic drum computer)
1955 Personnel: 2850p
1956 Introduction of Gamma AET, with a drum memory extension.
1956 Start of a mechanical parts plant at Saint-Quentin (Aisne, FR)
1Q 1956 First shipment Gamma Tambour (drum computer) to Crédit Lyonnais

19 Dec 1956 Fist disclosure of Gamma 60
a large scale computer with multi-threading capabilities through asynchronism of some processing units and I/O channels. It includes a combination of germanium transistors, magnetic core memory and still a few electronic tubes.
1957 Personnel 3330p
1958 Invention of machine readable CMC7 font
1959 Creation of De La Rue Bull Machines, a joint venture between De La Rue and CMB
Dec 1959 Acquisition of buildings in rue Haxo (6000sq.m.) and rue E. Lefebvre (12000sq.m.)
1959 Personnel 4952p
Mar 1960 Acquisition of a plant in Belfort, from Dollfus-Mieg & Cie.
1960 Personnel 6392p
Jan 1960 First shipment of Gamma 60 to EDF
29 Jun 1960 decision to build a new production plant in Angers
4 Jul 1960 Creation of Bull Deutschland subsidiary, headquartered in Köln
Nov 1960 Shipment of Gamma 60 (#2) to SNCF (French Railways)
1961 First shipment of "Série 300TI", a 300 cpm card equipment.
A version was also developed  using magnetic tape (Multisélecteur) for intermediary storage in place of cards.
1961 Personnel: 7783p

The large investment made by Bull in Gamma 60 that was not rewarded by the market and the failure to match the IBM 1401 with the Series 300TI lead Compagnie des Machines Bull to import RCA computers as a close-gap solution

Oct 1961 Agreement with RCA for marketing RCA 301 by Bull. It will named Gamma30.
The RCA301 will be also licensed to ICT in UK and to Siemens in Germany.
9 Apr 1962 Beginning of design of "Petite Machine", a desk computer for the accounting market.
This project was aborted after the production of 8 prototypes, but was at the origin of the successful GE-55 and Level61.
3 May 1962 Georges Vieillard leaves his functions of president (Directeur général) at CMB.
He was still influential in negotiating the merger with General Electric in 1964.
1962 Introduction of Gamma 10 card computer, the last machine manufactured in Paris Gambetta before the manufacturing starts in Angers.
Jul 1962 Jean Perriquet is promoted Directeur Général, replacing Georges Vieillard
1962 Olivetti acquires 95% of Olivetti-Bull, CMB reducing its shares to 5%
Jul 1962 First negotiation with General Electric on the base of a 20% of shares of   Bull
1963 1962 results : sales of 345MF
1963 Introduction of "Programmateur Numérique", a modular assembly of relay technology for industrial automata. Shipment of the first unit at Usinor Dunkerque plant.
18 Mar 1963 Agreement ,on government pressure, between SEA / Schneider and Bull for the distribution by Bull of CAB500. The CAB 3900 remains in competition with the Gamma 30
10 May 1963 Inauguration of Angers plant. Angers is to be manufacturing all electronic assemblies: initially the Gamma 30, subassembly of the Gamma 60 as well as the RCA 301 under license.
1963 Redefinition of "Petite Machine" as Gamma 5D
25 Jul 1963 First lay-off of 122p in Bull (Gambetta and Saint-Ouen), The working week is reduced from 45 to 40 hours.
Announcement of RCA3301 by Bull under the name of Gamma 40.
A few orders had been secured when occurred the merger with GE that interrupt the RCA agreement. No 3301 has been delivered.
Oct 1963 Entry of Roger Schultz (Paribas) in the CMB board
18 Dec 1963 General Electric announces its intent of buying 20% of Bull for 140MF. The Callies family accepts this proposal that remained subject at French government approval
1963 start of development of M40 for the real-time market
4 Feb 1964 Termination of the first negotiation with GE, because the refusal of the intended agreement. by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the French minister of Finances.
15 Feb 1964 The French government imposes a protocol between Paribas, CSF and CGE guaranteeing the Bull loans by the State, subsidizing for 5 years Bull's R&D, and giving to Paribas and Crédit National the control of the company.
Feb 1964 Resignation of MM Bonnet, Chargueraud and Petersen, responsible managers of Bull's Domestic and International sales, all moving to General Electric.
They will come back at Bull, after the Bull-General Electric merger
14 Apr 1964 Georges Vieillard and Rogers Schultz restart the negotiation with GE, that is now accepted by the French Government. GE now request 50% of Bull.
2 Jul 1964 Resignation of Joseph Callies replaced provisionally by Roger Schultz
23 Jul 1964 Announcement of Bull take-over by General Electric.



Revision : 29 avril 2002.