Olivetti OGE GEISI HISI Bull

Summary History

Olivetti, a large office mechanical and electrical equipment located in Ivrea, in North-West Italy, embarks in the design of computers in the late 50s. It starts a cooperation with Bull, creating a joint-venture abandoned by Bull in 1962 and bought by General Electric. It operated as a division of GE, then of Honeywell until its take-over by Bull in the late 1980s. The relations between the French and the Italian operations were marked by a succession of love-hate intervals while, with only a few exceptions, the two companies sold common products .

In 1980, Saint-Gobain, at that time the prime shareholder of Bull, attempted a take-over of Olivetti, at the expense of  CII-HB's ambitions in the office business. This effort failed and Saint-Gobain remained a sleeping partner in Olivetti.

In the mid 1980s, Bull (Bull-Transac division) established a joint venture (SIAB)  with Olivetti, with manufacturing in Cassis, France,  for designing and manufacturing banking teller equipments (ATM). Bull and Olivetti maintained separately their presence in the personal computer business that they will both quit that market in the mid 1990s.

1949 establishment of Olivetti-Bull joint venture between  Compagnie des machines Bull and Olivetti to market Bull's card equipment in Italy 
1955 establishment under the impulse of Adriano Olivetti of an Electronic Research Laboratory in Pisa, in liaison with Pisa University under Mario Tchou.
1957 Development of a computer prototype (ELaboratore Elettronico Automatico) named IV at Barbaricina,  a suburb of Pisa. Technology was vacuum tubes.
end 1957 Modification of Elea IV by using transistors
1958 Transfer of the Ricerche Elettroniche Olivetti from Pisa to Borgolombardo, around Milan§
1959 Introduction of Elea 9003, a transistorized business computer. It had a core memory of 20 to 160 KB and was using magnetic tapes. On that computer, up to 3 programs were able to run simultaneously. A key architect was Ettore Sottsass
circa 1960 Compagnie des Machines Bull and Olivetti 's  joint venture Olivetti-Bull markets Bull's computers noticeably Gamma 60 in Italy.
1961 Establishment of Divisione Elettronica Olivetti  including Olivetti-Bull.
Construction of R&D center of Pregnana.
1961 Introduction of Elea 6001 and Elea 4001 
1963 Olivetti buys back Bull interests in Olivetti-Bull
31 Aug 1964 General Electric purchases 75% of Olivetti computer business that becomes Olivetti-General Electric, later (1938) named GE Information Systems Italia (GEISI)
However, some engineers remain within Olivetti S.p.A. to develop office automation computers (Programma 101 in 1965)
1965 Introduction of Olivetti-General Electric GE-115 (born Elea 4001)
1970 GEISI is sold by General Electric to Honeywell. It will be known as HISI (Honeywell Information Systems Italia). HISI acquires responsibility for sales in the eastern Mediterranean countries (except Greece and Lebanon).
1974 Introduction of Series 60 Level 62 computer, running GCOS 62 designed in Pregnana and manufactured in Caluso.
1975 Introduction of Serial Printer with matrix character printing.
1979 Introduction of DPS4, a compatible upgrade of Level 62
1979 Denial by CII-HB of HISI proposal for an hybrid version of DPS-4 able to run GCOS4 or GCOS7.
CII-HB was then contemplating to develop Archer, a low-cost MOS machine, that will be finally introduced in ... 1986 as DPS-7000.
circa 1980 HISI develops for Honeywell a small member of DPS-6 product line
1982 HISI stops the development of DPS-4 and proprietary architectures and start to develop UNIX open systems for Honeywell, based on Motorola micro-processors.
1985 HISI is bought by Groupe Bull, as part as Honeywell assets.
circa 1988 Honeywell-Bull Italia engineering is integrated with French Systems division.
May 1989 Creation of Compuprint SpA, a manufacturer of serial printers
1992 Italy engineering is responsible of hardware development of Pegasus a  multiprocessor PowerPC system developed in common with IBM Austin, sold by Bull as Escala.
1993 Installation of a technological center in Avellino.
1995 Avellino became Bull's competence center for SAP/
1996 Bull imposes drastic cuts in R&D and closes manufacturing in Italy.
Dec 2006  Bull divests its Italian assets to the Italian company Eunics