ICL – as described by Wikipedia

As you probably know, BCC Services is direct successor of the Croatian / Yugoslav branches of the former British IT Company ICL, which is today part of the Fujitsu group and operates under name of Fujitsu Services. This is in short what the Wikipedia says about ICL, their products and history.

ICL, or International Computers Ltd, was a large British Company that was offering the computer hardware, software and services. The Company operated under name of ICL from 1968 to 2002 when it changed the name to Fujitsu Services Ltd, as a member of the Fujitsu group. The Company’s most successful product line was the mainframe computer series, ICL Series 2900.

Later ICL expanded the offerings, but the business base always was and stayed the mainframe users customer base. The new offerings included powerful mainframe computers (IBM compatible) manufactured by Fujitsu, various mini and personal computers, and series of successful retail trading equipment – the point-of-sale equipment and back office applications software.

ICL also successfully operated on the international market, and in United Kingdom relied on the large customer base from the public sector and business.

Formation of ICL

International Computers Ltd was founded in 1968, as the result of Industrial Expansion Act, adopted by donijela Wilson’s Labour Government. ICL was initiative of then Minister of Technology, with the aim to create British computer industry that would be capable of competing with leading manufacturers worldwide, such as IBM. ICL was formed as the last step of a series of mergers of the British computer industry since ninetee-fifties onwards.

The main constituent parts from which ICL was formed were International Computers and Tabulators (ICT) that was merged with English Electric Computers. These two companies were themselves end results of many previous mergers, and when ICL was formed, it practically united the whole British computer industry.

“New Range” computers

In the beginning ICL continued to sell the constituent companies products, especially the 1900 Series from the former ICT and System 4 from EEC, but it soon become apparent that a new, unified product portfolio was needed, products that will enable users to continue using the applications they developed for earlier product lines, but which will in the end replace the old product lines. The new computers were developed under the name of “New Range”, and the first computers were announced on October 9th.1974, under name of Series 2900.

Series 2900 operated under the VME operating system, that was able to emulate the previous architectures, both the 1900 Series System 4, either in the free-standing mode (DME, Direct Machine Environment) or simultaneously with the native, VME operating regime (CME, Concurrent Machine Environment). At the beginning of nineteen-eighties, ICL made an agreement on usage of the semiconductor technology with Fujitsu, at that time the only manufacturer in the world who was capable producing the ICs that ICL needed. That collaboration was expanded over years, and Fujitsu started to gradually acquire shares in ICL, and eventualy become the 100 % owner. In year 2002 the Company was significantly reorganised and incorporated into the operations of the Fujitsu group, at the same time changing the name into Fujitsu Services.

After Series 2900 followed the Series 39, which used the original Series 2900 architecture, but used the significantly faster latest hardware technology available at the time. This was the first product line of the commercial mainframe computers that used internal and external links via the fibre optic cables and which was capable of using the multi-node processors in a manner fully transparent to the applications.

Software

The operating system for the “new range” computers was over time consolidated in the single operating system called VME 2900, which was later changed to simple VME. The development work continued, and the system become the Open VME, and is in use even today.

In addition to the operating system, users were using the relational database IDMS(X), transaction processing environment TPMS(X), data dictionary DDS (X), application development package QuickBuild, tool for interactive queries Querymaster, Application Master (AM) tool for application development, compilers for COBOL and various other programming languages.

Smaller computer ranges

During the initial transition phase, but also later, as addition to the mainframe systems, ICL was offering several series of mini, micro and personal computers.

Let us mention the 2903/2904 Series that emulated 1900 Series, and was among the first products capable of working in the normal office environment, i.e. without air-conditioning. One of distinguishing feature was integrated system for data entry via the video terminals, so called DDE – Direct Data Entry System.

The 2903 Series was at the beginning of nineteen-eighties replaced by computers from the ME29 Series that used the highest hardare technology available at the time and the TME operating system.

To cater for the needs of departments of larger organisations, ICL developed several series of the departmental computers, called ‘DRS’ (Distributed Resource System). Several lines of the DRS systems existed, from the systems operating under the operating system CDOS (Cincurrent DOS, that was later replaced by Windows systems) and under various kinds of UNIX systems. Also developed were several series of personal computers, that were in time replaced by the standardised models of PC machines, running under Windows.

Also mentioned should be the ICL System Ten, that become part of the offering when ICL bought Singer Business Machines, and the System 25, that replaced the System ten after some time, and the System 1500, portable computer with many characteristics of PC computers that come later, and which was eventually replaced by the PCs, especially after ICL bought Nokia Data, a daughter of the famous known mobile phones manufacturer, but manufacturing personal computers.

ICL and Fujitsu

It was said earlier that cooperation between ICL and Fujitsu started with the tehnology for manufacture of the semiconductor ICs, the technology available at the required level only with Fujitsu. The technical cooperation was expanding, followed by the business cooperation, and Fujitsu gradually become 100% owner of ICL. In year 1999 Fujitsu founded, together with Siemens a new company – Fujitsu Siemens Computers that united all the European IT production capacities of both parent companies (including the capacities of ICL) to manufacture personal and server computers. Production that stayed with ICL was manufacture of the mainframe systems, and the Company sold the Fujitsu / Fujitsu Siemens Computer products and the provided the related IT services on the EMEA market. After some years of such operation, ICL changed the name into Fujitsu Services. The company Fujitsu Siemens Computers existed as such until year 2009, when Fujitsu bought the Siemens shares and again become the sole owner.

BCC Services and ICL – Fujitsu

ICL operated in Croatia, i.e. in then Yugoslavia since 1970, first as the agency based in Belgrade (offices in Belgrade and Zagreb), and later as agency through the company Mladost of Zagreb (offices in Zagreb and Belgrade). When in year 1990 regulations permitted opening of local companies directly owned by foreign parent companies, ICL established local companies in Zagreb and Belgrade, later also in Ljubljana and Skopje. Following the parent company, the local companies also changed the names from ICL into Fujitsu Services. After the local Fujitsu Services management buy-out, ownership of the local company changed, and the company eventually changed the name to BCC Services, but the business and expertise continuity, that started with the first agency in year 1970, was maintained.

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