BULL computers chronological history

other French Companies (before 1966)

Some other French companies that did not merge eventually in Groupe Bull are not described in this page. Among them should be noted   Logabax, Intertechnique and Electronique Marcel Dassault.
A full history of the French informatique industry should also mention the role of government agencies DRME, DMA, DGRST, DIELI...

SEA Société d'Electronique appliquée à l'Automatisme

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Mar 1948 Creation of SEA (Société d'Electronique appliquée à l''Automatisme) par François-Henri Raymond to build analog and digital computers (CAB binary arithmetic computers). SA is installed in Courbevoie, NW of Paris
1950 SEA enters the simulators market with the analog computer OME12. It also enters the telephone business with the Généphone (using acoustic energy)

The Genephone business will be transferred in 1966 to SILEC, then a Thomson company.

1951 Development of CUBA Calculateur Universel Binaire de l'Armement, the first SEA digital computer
Jul 1955 Installation of CAB1011 a cryptography system
1958 SEA becomes a company of Schneider group as a subsidiary of SW Schneider-Westinghouse. The manufacturing of computers is assigned to SW.
1959 A marketing and sales subsidiary is created with SW, named SEPSEA Société d'Exploitation des Procédés SEA.
May 1959 Specification of CABAN, later known as 3900 a tape computer, between SEA and Credit Lyonnais
1959 Development of CAB500, a small scientific computer, using a magnetic cores technology (SYMAG)
Feb 1961 First shipment of CAB500, a single user desk computer
Oct 1961 Introduction of CAB3900
1962 Introduction of analog computer NADAC20
1962 Creation of CERCI, Compagnie d'études et de réalisation de cybernétique industrielle, a process-control engineering company part of Schneider group.

Initially, this company uses industrial version of CAB500, then it will use Digital Equipment and Micral computers. It will be merged into SEMA group in 1982

1963 Agreement with Bull: Compagnie des Machines Bull starts marketing the CAB500 and absorbs some SEPSEA activities. Bull transfers Les Andelys plant to SEA.

This agreement, part of the government supervised attempt to consolidate the French industry, left over the 3900 fate. Sales of CAB500 by Bull fell well under expectations and soon Bull was taken over by General Electric.

1964 Introduction of CAB 1500
Jan 1966 Signature of a memory of understanding with Control Data to use the technologies and the peripheral of CDC.

This MoU was not implemented, due to implementation of French Plan Calcul.

1966 Settlement of a suit against Bull's default in CAB500 sales agreement
1966 "Axe 2" architecture research, sponsored by France's DRME military research arm.
Dec 1966 Merge into CII. François-Henri Raymond left the Company and takes a position of professor at Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers.

FH Raymond will die in November 2000

SEA had developed a possible alternative to Compagnie des Machines Bull at the end of the 1950s. The CAB500 has been a successful desk computer that, unhappily, did not got a successor when SEA was dissolved into CII.


CAE Compagnie  d'Automatisme Electronique


1958 Jean Auricoste leaves SEA for Intertechnique, after having contacts with Ramo-Wooldridge.
Intertechnique gets a marketing and manufacturing license for Ramo-Wooldridge process control computers.
1 Jul 1960 Creation of CAE by CSF,   Intertechnique and Ramo Wooldridge.T he headquarters and plant are located in an ex-CSF plant at Boulogne-Billancourt

Robert Remillon is named PDG of CAE

1961 Introduction of RW300, a drum-memory process control computer
Nov 1961 The core-memory RW530 is selected by Electricité de France for its national dispatching center.
1962 Introduction of CAE 510, a derivative from Ramo-Wooldridge RW530
1963 Delivery of first RW-130 missile control computer This TRW designed computer was evolved by CAE into the silicon-technology RW-133 for the first generation French nuclear submarines.
Nov 1964 Creation of CITEC , a holding company, by CGE, CSF and Intertechnique.. CITEC holds CAE, Analac and some software houses.

CIT, a French telephone company subsidiary of CGE, had just developed a computer  CITAC 210. However, CGE its parent company was not ready to invest in that field and was exploring the American market for license acquisitions. It brought -through another subsidiary named CECIS (Compagnie Européenne de Calculateurs industriels et Scientifiques) - to CITEC a license of SDS Scientific Data Systems, a young American computer company, that is substituted to Bunker Ramo that just quit the computer market

Dec 1964 Introduction of CAE 90-10, 90-40 and 90-80 under SDS (Scientific Data Systems) licenses
24 Jun 1965 Inauguration of les Clayes sous Bois plant (12 000 sq.m.)
1965 Prolongation of CAE-SDS agreement for five years
Agreement with SDS and ICS (a subsidiary of the British GEC group) for cross-licensing and repartition of markets.

SETI Société européenne de Traitement de l'Information

1959 Jean Gaudfernau leaves SEA for the Compagnie des Compteurs
Oct. 1961 Creation of SETI, under Jean Gaudfernau, as a subsidiary of CdC Compagnie des Compteurs. The  headquarters are located in Massy-Palaiseau.
The initial product of SETI is the minicomputer PB250, manufactured under license of Packard Bell.
1963 The planned Packard Bell PB440 is cancelled after the desertion of its designers for SDS. CdC buys back shares of PB in SETI.
1963 Development of a genuine French computer PALLAS by Yves Harrand, contributor of Bull Gamma 60 and Louis Bosset, an ex-Bull software designer.

Pallas is repositioned as a business computer

1965 Delivery of first Pallas. However only a dozen was built.
1966 SETI computer activities are stopped with the creation of Plan Calcul and the company revamped as a process control department of Compagnie des Compteurs

CIT (Compagnie Générale d'Electricité group)

1962 Introduction by the subsidiary CIT Compagnie Industrielle des Téléphones of the digital computer CITAC 210B.

CITAC 210B is a genuine French computer designed by Didier Brue for Electricité de France nuclear plants

jul 1963 creation of CECIS a subsidiary of CIT directed by Pierre Esdrom ex-SEPSEA, with Didier Brue.
summer 1963 License agreement with Scientific Data Systems for SDS9x0 process control computers
jul 1964 CGE and CSF sign an agreement that includes the absorption of CECIS by CAE under the umbrella of CITEC a joint-venture company.
CFTH Compagnie Française Thomson-Houston
The technical involvement of Thomson in CAE was just capitalistic. Thomson had General Electric process control licenses
1957 acquisition of RBV-Radio Industrie by CFTH. The division is headed by Emile Labin (ex-ITT)
1960 SNERI delivers a genuine computer KL901 for Météorologie Nationale, the French Weather Bureau
CFTH in 1964 approaches   Bull-General Electric, specially in the teleprocessing area. However, its computer related business is regrouped in 1966 into SPERAC, part of Plan Calcul.



Revision : 29 avril 2002.