BULL computers chronological history


the French Plan Calcul
The French government initiates a State sponsored initiative in 1965, after the GE's take-over of Compagnie des Machines Bull. Its objectives were to maintain a national computer industry and to sustain the needs of National Defense  that France wanted fully independent from the U.S. The existing French laboratories were a small indigenous computer company -the SEA- and the subsidiaries of large French electronic conglomerates that provided  integration of American originated computers in industrial and/or defense systems. Plan Calcul was to federate and integrate them in a single company, able to compete in all azimuths with Bull-General Electric and IBM.

Plan Calcul 1966-1975

While the public charter of Plan Calcul was to insure the France strategic independence in computers, the contract with CII was actually a kind of specification for a general purpose product line, where supercomputers were ignored and military computers were derived from business computers.
The specification was neglecting the business model for CII and was written as a military R&D contract. The request to provide a wide spectrum of computers during the same time period lead to the "revamping" of several SDS computers  as part of Plan Calcul, what lead to incompatibilities between models and additional development costs.

16 July 1966 Approval of the  Ortoli report on a Plan Calcul
8 Oct 1966 Creation of a Délégué à l'Informatique by the French government. Robert Galley is named at this function, reporting directly to the Prime Minister (at that time, Georges Pompidou)
Introduction of CII 10020 and of 10070 (under SDS licenses)
CII 10070 is based on SDS Sigma7.
6 Dec 1966 Creation of Compagnie Industrielle pour l'Informatique, grouping CAE and Analac from CITEC (CGE-CSF) and SEA (groupe Schneider).
Jacques Maillet (Intertechnique, Groupe Rivaud) is named chairman (PDG) and Jean Auricoste (ex-CAE) is named president.
1966 Creation of SPERAC (Systèmes et Périphériques Associés aux Calculateurs) between Thomson and Compagnie des Compteurs.
3 Jan 1967 Creation of IRIA (Institut de Recherche d'Informatique et d'Automatisme) to do computer research and education.
1967 Installation of CII at Louveciennes, in ex-NATO's SHAPE barracks.
13 Apr 1967 First Plan Calcul 5-years convention.
Jul 1967 Introduction of the French minicomputer CII 10010
Jul 1967 Following the merge of CFTH (Compagnie Française Thomson-Houston) and CSF, Thomson becomes shareholder of CII.
Sep 1967 Introduction of CII 10020
Mar 1968 Introduction of the process control version of 10010
July 1968 Birth of Iris 50 as the Plan Calcul P1 system, formally introduced in Sep 1968
Iris 50, a medium-size business computer, is completely French genuine.
30 Sep 1968 Robert Galley is named minister of Scientific Research, in charge of nuclear and space affairs. He is replaced as Délégué à l'Informatique by Maurice Allègre.
3 Dec 1968 First P0M prototype,  a military computer to be delivered as Iris 35M.
1968 CII sells manufacturing rights of Iris50 to Rumania (where it is sold as Felix computer) and 10010 rights to Hungary.
Dec 1968 First prototype of Iris 80 (alias P3).
Iris 80 is a powerful derivative of 10070,
Jan 1969 Beginning of the Toulouse plant's operation;,  (13 000 sq.m.) with a staff of 500p.It has been formally inaugurated on 10 Oct 1969, with  100th CII10010 system
17 Feb 1969 Delivery of first Iris50 for software development.
Mar 1969 Order of 10070 for French Air Traffic Control
Jul 1969 Robert Gest is directeur général adjoint
1969 SDS is bought by Xerox as XDS.
The relations of CII with XDS will become less significant after 1970 and when Honeywell bought XDS in the late 70s, it will migrate the Xerox systems to the Level66 line (under CP-6 operating system)
Sep 1969 Introduction of Iris-80
1 Nov 1969 Agreement between Thomson and CGE to create Fininfor (headed by André Danzin) .that becomes in May 1970 the main shareholder at 70.7% of CII
19 Dec 1969 Jacques Maillet is named honorary chairman and Michel Barré replaces him as PDG (executive president)
30 Dec 1969 Acceptation of Iris80 under Siris7, by the Délégation à l'Informatique
13 Feb 1970 First shipment of Iris 50 to IRIA (under Siris2)
Apr 1970 Absorption of Sperac by CII
Sep 1970 Introduction  of Iris 55M, a military version of Iris 50, presented in operational condition in Nov 1971.
Nov 1970 Creation of Multinational Data an engineering joint venture between CII, Control Data and ICL (UK) for designing and promoting common standards.
25 Mar 1971 Introduction of Iris 45, an entry version of Iris 50
May 1971 Introduction of Mitra 15, a  minicomputer (privately developed by CII for process control, and telecommunications market)
3 Aug 1971 Second plan calcul convention, requesting CII to  negotiate international co-operations
Aug 1971 Creation of CILOMI, a subsidiary to finance leases to customers
Sep 1971 Introduction of Iris 60, an upper model of Iris 50.
10 Nov 1971 Shipment of first Iris 80 to CEA DAM (military nuclear research center in Limeil) to be upgraded in a dual processor system
Mar 1972 Robert Gest is named directeur général (executive vp)
3 May 1972 IDI ( a French government financial company) takes 14.82% of CII shares
Sep 1972 Toulouse's plant is extended to 30 000sq.m.with a staff of 1400p. In Nov 1973, it will reach 45000 sq.m. and 1600p
Sep 1972 Introduction of Iris 15M, a military version of Mitra 15
Jan 1973 Introduction of Iris 55, a smaller version of Iris 60
Mar 1974 design of CS40 a computer for the telephone exchange system E12
CS-40, derived from Iris 50, will be acquired by CGE (future Alcatel) in 1975.
13 May 1975 Following the announcement of the merger with Honeywell-Bull, Michel Barré (CII's PDG) resigns
20 May 1975 Merger with Honeywell-Bull, confirmed by an agreement between Honeywell and the Compagnie Générale d'Electricté.
The Toulouse plant is not part of the agreement and is relinquished to CITEC (groupe Thomson).
It continues to manufacture CII products and will operates until the end of 1981 to operates as a parts manufacturer for the Angers plant.

Unidata 1972-1976

Unidata was an attempt to create a European company, to enlarge the national markets, somewhat similar to then emerging Airbus Industries. The confederation of German, French and Dutch computer makers had been preceded by unfruitful negotiations with the British ICL.
Contrarily to Airbus, that was essentially the design and the manufacturing of a new airplane, each Unidata participant wanted to take advantage of their existing design. Their mother companies see more Unidata as a source of Europe subsidies more than a source of business.

unidatalogo.gif (2274 octets)


Aug 1971 Exploratory conversations with Siemens, that just losses its precedent partner RCA, from which Siemens got licenses of Spectra7
30 Jan 1972 Agreement between CII and Siemens to cooperate in general purpose civilian computers.
Apr 1972 Negotiation between CII, Siemens and Philips for building a common company Unidata.
Sep 1972 Conclusion of the agreement with Philips
19 Jan 1973 Formal signature in Munich of the agreement between CII and Siemens AG
4 Jul 1973 Formal signature in Amsterdam of the agreement creating Unidata
Sep 1973 CII introduces the Siemens 4004, a derivative of RCA Spectra 70, in its catalog
1973 CII absorbs Siemens computers activities in France and gives up its CII GmbH to Siemens
Unidata partners decide to introduce the X series.
  The X architecture is similar to IBM's S/370 and to Siemens 4004. X0 will be developed as an entry level by Philips, Siemens' X1 and X3 and CII X2 will run under the Siemens operating system BS-2000. The upper end CII X4 and X5 would have run either BS-2000 or a port of Siris 8 to the X architecture.
Dec 1973 Dispute between the Fininfor (the CII holding company) shareholders. CGE (48%) disagrees with Thomson (52%)
15 Jan 1974 Introduction of Unidata 77-20, designed and produced by Philips.
Jul 1974 Telefunken is taken over by Siemens
That take-over was made without Unidata partners consultation.
16 Sep 1974 Introduction of Unidata 77-30 and 77-50 produced by Siemens and of Unidata 77-40 (née X-2) produced by CII
3 Sep 1975 Philips leaves Unidata
19 Dec 1975 Dissolution of the Unidata association



Revision : 29 avril 2002.