BULL computers chronological history

CII - Honeywell-Bull 1975-1982

The major task in front of the CII-HB management was to integrate Honeywell-Bull and CII assets and resources into one company.
This period was marked by the transfer of ownership from the Compagnie Générale d'Electricité (CGE) to Saint-Gobain, a newcomer in electronics.

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Jean-Pierre Brulé


12 May 1975 Announcement by the French Government (Michel d'Ornano, minister of Industry) of the merger between CII and Honeywell-Bull. CII-HB territories include Europe (except UK and Italy), Latin America, French speaking Africa and Eastern countries. CII-HB and Honeywell have cross-distribution agreements for all products. There is  a free cross-license agreement between companies. Future products will be coordinated by a Technical Committee. The French government guarantees to give Bull R&D subsidies and preferred orders for a period of 4 years. Personnel transfers between CII and CII-HB concerns 5000 people.

The Toulouse's plant of CII and its minicomputer activities are not part of the deal and are transferred to Thomson.

Honeywell gets $50M cash and the guarantee of money-back in case of nationalization of CII-HB ( a claim from the left parties since 1972) as well as opt-out rights in case of disagreements on CII-HB's management.

1975 The initial organization of CII-HB includes R Gest (ex-CII) as responsible for sales in France and Central Planning, Jack Petersen as head of engineering and manufacturing and Maxime Bonnet as responsible for International sales.
1 Nov 1975 Creation of Compagnie CII-Honeywell-Bull where Honeywell keeps 47% of shares instead of 66%). Compagnie des Machines Bull, a French company owns 53%. CMB is a holding company where CGE and the French Government are main shareholders (20% each)
23 Dec 1975 Conclusion of agreements between French government, private shareholders of CII-HB and Honeywell finalizing the merger. Honeywell obtains a clause of compensation, in case of change in the French shareholdings.
Honeywell wanted to be allowed to exit CII-HB in case of a nationalization of the French shareholding

The formal coming into force of those agreements will be delayed until mid 1976 by judiciary actions from CII labor Unions.

Nov 1975 Departure of R Chambolle (ex-CII), responsible of CII-HB large systems. Claude Bouvier becomes head of Small Systems and Terminal, Marc Bourin's direction  incorporates large and medium systems.
1976 Creation of a Central Planning organization under François Sallé.
Feb 1976 Departure of R Gest for CGE/Sintra.
26 Apr 1976 A project to use the Level 64 peripheral subsystems on ex-Unidata X4/X5 is initiated under the code name Alida.
16 Sep 1976 Announcement of a convergence strategy between Level 64 and CII product lines, under the code name "Unisys". that name having nothing to do with the subsequent merge of Univac and Burroughs
1976 personnel 18 651p (of which 14304p in France)
Jan 1977 Denial by J.P. Brulé of CGE's intent to give special powers to an outside director
Apr 1977 Termination of Alida project. The CII engineering teams working on high end systems are transferred to the P7G project , a Level-64 compatible project (later announced as DPS-7) able to emulate Siris programs. 

The (Iris-80 compatible) telephone computer CS-40 is transferred to CGE.

Jun 1977 With Honeywell's agreement and cooperation, Bull initiates the design of a unified network processor, based on Level 6 hardware and with network software written by ex-CII engineers. It will be known internally as UNCP Unified Control processor, before its introduction as a Datanet.
UNCP is a key component of Honeywell and CII-HB Distributed Systems Architecture common to all those companies systems.
1977 Introduction of Tape Handlers PENA-30 (from CII origin)
1977 Introduction of Cynthia disc units
1977 results: sales 3788MF net result:144MF (including 460MF subsidies) personnel 18 043p (of which 13 776 in France)
Jun 1978 GCOS3 is renamed GCOS8 for the Level66 product line.

This announcement is a re-pricing of software and includes a few improvements. However, the support of NSA extended architecture will be introduced only in subsequent releases.

9 Jun 1978 CII-HB announces that it takes the control of 60% of R2E. the French microcomputer computer, the first in the world to provide a microprocessor computer in 1972.
Oct 1978 Christian Lehmann replaces Claude Bouvier as head of the small systems and terminal division.
late 1978 The CII-HB board (Honeywell and CGE) opposes a planned 200MF take-over of AEG-Olympia and Hermes-Precisa, two German companies operating in the office automation business.
7 Nov 1978 Meeting in Paris between J.P Brulé and the president of NEC (K Kobayashi) about the renewal of licenses between the companies. NEC does not accept the CII-HB proposal of renewing  those licenses on the base of free cross-licensing all the products of both companies.
In fact, the agreements will be renewed in 1984 with Honeywell first on NEC's conditions, Groupe Bull will align itself on Honeywell's positions.
1978 reintroduction of MULTICS in Europe.
The level68 reintroduction encounters an extremely good success, specially among the scientific customers of CII Iris 80.
1978 The French Government establishes a "Components Plan" with several electronic companies, one of which is Eurotechnique, a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain. Eurotechnique establishes a new plant in Rousset, near Marseilles, to manufacture semiconductors chips under National Semi license.
1979 1978 results: sales 4456MF net result 190.4MF (including subsidies of 212MF)
Jan 1979 Agreement with CPT for the non-exclusive distribution of word processing equipments by Bull (TTX-80 and TTX-90).
1979 Design of P7G-CCR by the Angers engineering unit. P7G-CCR a medium size processor combining  the P7G technology and Level-64 logic.
It will be renamed Taurus and will be introduced as DPS-7-x5. P7G is renamed P7G-E, it will  be code named Leo.
The design point of the P7G project had suffered an upside pull to upgrade Iris 80 and was  a difficult upgrade path for Levl64 users.
1979 Introduction of Level64/DPS , an improved version of Level64. to match the IBM 4331 and 4341 aggressive announcements.
The new models, thanks to a significant sales price reduction will lead to an overflow of orders saturating the Angers plant, already quite busy by the technology change to micro packaging.
1979 Introduction of  Level 61/DPS a multi-user entry system, built on a revamped level-61 CRP (centralized resource processor) and a front-end processor (from Datapoint)  DRP (distributed resource processor)
2 Apr 1979 the P7G-E (alias Leo) prototype is powered on.. Its debug phase ended on 11 Jul 1980 with GCOS running.
May 1979 The US Department of Defense selects Jean Ichbiah's project for the language ADA.
Jun 1979 Christian Lehmann is promoted general manager for all systems. (engineering, planning, manufacturing.
Claude Boulle is promoted as manager of Networking and Minicomputers
Georges Lepicard is promoted manager of GMS (large and medium systems), reporting to Jack Petersen,  replacing Marc Bourin who keeps the management of technology and logistics.
1979 Introduction of CP8 smart card
4 Jul 1979 Creation of CII-HB Systèmes,  a joint venture between CII-HB (50.5%) and SESA.
18 Sep 1979 Announcement of P7G-E as DPS-7/80 and 82
24 Sep 1979 Compagnie Générale d'Electricité (the future Alcatel) gives up, at the demand of the French government, its 20% shares in CII-HB to Compagnie de Saint-Gobain that expects a diversification in electronics.

This move was expected since the beginning of the year. However, it was delayed by Honeywell's consideration of its opting-out rights.

1979 Announcement by CII-HB and Honeywell of the Distributed System Architecture developed in common from the basis of CII New Network Architecture
1980 1979 results: sales 5128MF net result 210MF (including a 110MF subsidy)
4 Feb 1980 Roger Fauroux (PDG of Saint-Gobain) replaces Henri Delaage as chairman of Compagnie des Machines Bull, the CII-HB's holding company.
18 Apr 1980 Saint-Gobain announces the acquisition of 33% of Olivetti
4 Jul 1980 Francis Ackermann is named general manager of Angers plant. He will replace Robert Audoin as president of Bull Anjou in October 1980.
11 Sep 1980 P7G-CCR is ready to run GCOS.
Oct 1980 Saint-Gobain takes over 51% of Compagnie des Machines Bull that bears also the 23.3% participation of Saint Gobain in Olivetti..
The Olivetti's strategy by Saint-Gobain, animated by Alain Minc, was opposed by Jean-Pierre Brulé, desiring to penetrate the office automation market through the effective control of a specialized company, what become impossible within the minority position that Saint-Gobain took in Olivetti.
22 Dec 1980 First shipment of DPS-7/65 to EDF
1981 First operation of the automated logistics complex at the Angers Plant (CIL Centre International de Logistique)
1981 1980 Results: sales ~6100MF  net results 180MF (including 20MF subsidies)
5 Apr 1981 CII-HB takes a minority participation in ACSYS, the company founded by Gene Amdahl for implementing IBM compatible system in WSI wafer-scale integration. The company will better be known as Trilogy Corp.
CII-HB intents was to acquire the technology from Trilogy more than to enter the IBM mainframe clone market. The investment was written-off in 1984.
6 Jan 1981 Jean Pierre Brulé takes directly in charge the engineering & manufacturing Group, replacing Jack Petersen. Christian Lehmann  returns to distributed systems.
Jan 1981 Alain Minc (from Saint-Gobain) named Bull's CFO.
24 Mar 1981 CII-HB buys the majority of shares of Correlative Systems International, a Belgian company working on image processing.
6 Apr 1981 Saint-Gobain asks for a redistribution of 45% (and later 50%) of CII-HB's net results to the shareholders, weakening seriously the financial stability of CII-HB. 
May 1981 Acquisition of a new plant at Joué-les-Tours.
Its main activity  will be the assembling of Level6 minicomputers. The production begun on 22 Mar 1982.
May 1981 Logabax, a French office computer company, goes in bankruptcy requesting desperately assistance from the new leftist French government. .
Jun 1981 Georges Lepicard becomes manager of System Engineering and is replaced at the head of GMS by Christian Joly for hardware and Michel Rocher for software.
July 1981 Jacques Weber (ex-CEO of CISI,  a French software & services company) is named head of engineering & manufacturing group.
3 July 1981 Jean-Pierre Brulé is demoted by the CII-HB Board lead by Saint-Gobain. 
A strategy conflict opposed J.P. Brulé and Saint-Gobain about Saint-Gobain intent to base its office automation strategy on a minority shareholding position at Olivetti, at the expense of re-enforcing CII-HB's assets. After several disputes with Brulé on the subject, Saint-Gobain decided to take over the ailing French manufacturer Logabax and to associate it to Olivetti, instead of CII-HB. Honeywell supported Saint-Gobain's position
He is replaced , as PDG, by Maxime Bonnet who was CII-HB's general manager of sales.
Oct 1981 Honeywell initiates a negotiation with Saint-Gobain to possibly retreat from CII-HB capital.
Nov 1981 Managers faithful to JP Brulé : Jacques Perrichi (Human Resources) and Pierre Lepicard (Finances) are fired.
Jan 1982 The French government disapproves the conclusion of Saint Gobain's negotiation with Honeywell and takes over the negotiation directly with Bernard Esambert.
1982 1981 Results: sales 7347MF net results (losses) -430MF
30 Mar 1982 World wide announcement of DSA Distributed Systems Architecture, in common with Honeywell.
21 Apr 1982 CII-HB is nationalized by the French government. Saint-Gobain is also nationalized, but Roger Fauroux remains in charge. Jacques Stern (founder of SESA) is named PDG.
Compagnie des Machines Bull's shares will be exchanged for 12% interest bonds in July 1983.

Honeywell exercizes its opting out rights, obtaining $150M for 27% shares more than the books value). Honeywell keeps 20% shares with $20M of guaranteed dividend for each of 5 next years. Cross licenses are no more free, Honeywell receiving $12M per plus $5M to use Honeywell trade-mark. Honeywell renews the territories agreement of 1976.Honeywell abandon veto rights on Bull's strategy.




Revision : 29 avril 2002.