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
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
||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.
||Introduction of a card photo-reader (also able to
read pencil marks), the first electronic equipment of Bull.
||Announcement of an electronic sorter to replace the
E12 sorter. Announcement of the Gamma electronic calculator.
||Large order of calculators and card collators by
||OEM sales of interpreter to the British company
||Introduction of Gamma 2, an
electronic calculator using germanium diodes and delay lines, to be connected to BS120
||Bull starts the manufacturing of miniature
"petits relais" initially in Paris, then in Vendôme in 1953 (25M ex.), later in
Angers and Belfort
||Introduction of the electronic calculator Gamma 3
||Establishment of BOG Exacta Büromaschinen GmbH as a
distributor for West Germany (until 1962)
||First delivery of Gamma 3 to Crédit Lyonnais in
||Introduction of "Program by Cards" in Gamma
3M (previously, programming was performed exclusively by connection panels )
||Introduction of Gamma Tambour ( a
magnetic drum computer)
||Introduction of Gamma AET, with a drum memory
||Start of a mechanical parts plant at Saint-Quentin
||First shipment Gamma Tambour (drum computer) to
|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.
||Invention of machine readable CMC7 font
||Creation of De La Rue Bull Machines, a joint venture
between De La Rue and CMB
||Acquisition of buildings in rue Haxo (6000sq.m.) and
rue E. Lefebvre (12000sq.m.)
||Acquisition of a plant in Belfort, from Dollfus-Mieg
||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
||Shipment of Gamma 60 (#2) to SNCF (French Railways)
||First shipment of "Série 300TI", a 300 cpm
A version was also developed using magnetic tape (Multisélecteur) for intermediary
storage in place of cards.
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
||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.
||Introduction of Gamma 10 card
computer, the last machine manufactured in Paris Gambetta before the manufacturing starts
||Jean Perriquet is promoted Directeur
Général, replacing Georges Vieillard
||Olivetti acquires 95% of Olivetti-Bull,
CMB reducing its shares to 5%
||First negotiation with General Electric
on the base of a 20% of shares of Bull
||1962 results : sales of 345MF
||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
||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.
||Entry of Roger Schultz (Paribas) in the
|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
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
||Resignation of MM Bonnet, Chargueraud and
Petersen, responsible managers of Bull's Domestic and International sales, all
moving to General
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