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From Gamma 2 to Gamma E.T.: The Birth of Electronic Computing at Bull

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129630D
Original Publication Date: 1990-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 18 page(s) / 70K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

BRUNO LECLERC: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

In 1949 the Bull company created a team of electronics engineers. Two of them travelled to the U.S.A. in order to become acquainted with recent achievements in electronic computing. In 1951, they developed the Gamma 2 calculator, based on germanium diodes and delay lines and designed to be connected to the Bull BS tabulator for business applications. A commercial version, the Gamma 3, marketed in 1952, became a best-seller (more than 1,200 sold in 10 years). Different models followed (Gamma 3 Mathematique, Ordonnateur, etc.), including in 1956 the drum-augmented ";Gamma E.T., "; Bull's first stored-program computer.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1990 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

From Gamma 2 to Gamma E.T.: The Birth of Electronic Computing at Bull

BRUNO LECLERC

(Image Omitted: Author's address: Bruno Leclerc, La Feydeliere, 38137 Paladru, France.)

In 1949 the Bull company created a team of electronics engineers. Two of them travelled to the U.S.A. in order to become acquainted with recent achievements in electronic computing. In 1951, they developed the Gamma 2 calculator, based on germanium diodes and delay lines and designed to be connected to the Bull BS tabulator for business applications. A commercial version, the Gamma 3, marketed in 1952, became a best-seller (more than 1,200 sold in 10 years). Different models followed (Gamma 3 Mathematique, Ordonnateur, etc.), including in 1956 the drum-augmented "Gamma E.T., " Bull's first stored-program computer.

Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.2. [Computing Milieux]: History of Computing -- hardware, people, systems. K 1. [Computing Milieux]: The Computer Industry General Terms: Design, Economics, Management Performance Additional Terms: Bull, CMB, Gamma 2, Gamma 3, Gamma ET, SEA, France, Punched cards, Tabulators, Univac, Remington-Rand.

Background

The story starts in August of 1948, when I was contacted by Jacques Callies, an uncle of mine who was managing a medium-scale company dealing in punched card machines. I was a young engineer at the time. I had graduated from Institut Electrotechnique de Grenoble in July, 1942 at the age of 20 and one year later from the "radio" section of Ecole Superieure d'Electricite, temporarily moved from Paris to Lyon, a major city in the French "free zone" during World War
II. I spent five years with IT&T's Laboratoire Central des Telecommunications (LCT), first in Lyon until April 1945, then in Paris. The major project with which I had been involved was the design of an experimental "moving target indicator" radar for the French army where, among other things, I had developed a mercury-delay line memory. Quite unexpectedly, this experience turned out to be of some value two years later in a very different environment.

I was probably the only person, at least among his relatives, whom Jacques Callies knew with some background in the still, very young area of electronic techniques. My uncle very wisely thought these techniques would have a future in the business machine field. I assume that was why he offered me a position in the engineering department of his Compagnie des Machines Bull, to promote in this new technical discipline and develop its applications. After some consideration, I decided to accept the challenge. The arrangement, however, was postponed for a few weeks at Jacques Callies' request, to wait for the settlement of a patent dispute with IBM who claimed exclusive rights on the punching of rectangular holes in cards, a shape that Bull...