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British Industrial History

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GEC Computers and Automation

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GEC was one of the last large groups to enter the computer field when it set up GEC Computers and Automation Ltd

1954 BTM arranged with GEC jointly to develop the 1301 computer, which GEC would manufacture and BTM would sell. [1]

1961 GEC and International Computers and Tabulators formed a new joint venture called I. C. T. Engineering, which was 90 percent owned by ICT and 10 percent by GEC. The new company assumed responsibility for ICT's research and design division, and for the GEC computer development department at Coventry. GEC would continue to supply most of ICT's electronics requirement; ICT would take over the majority interest in computer development[2]

1961 GEC exited the arrangement with BTM to develop the 1301 computer but remained responsible for its manufacture.

1961 GEC formed a JV with Thompson Ramo Wooldridge to market Thompsons' industrial process control systems in the UK; Thompson would contribute experience of applying industrial process control in industry; the new company would be called International Systems Control[3]

Gained a licence from Thompson Ramo Wooldridge to make process control computers

1966 Started making computers from Scientific Data Systems of California under licence; GEC wanted to sell them for process control, connected to manufacturing plant, but the American machines, although technologically advanced, were more suited to scientific calculations, such as those carried out by aerospace and defence companies. The know-how to configure the computers for industrial process control was not available.[4]

1966 After playing a major part in the development of teletype equipment, the company transferred this business to a new company Data Dynamics which specialised in ancillary equipment for computers[5]

1967 GEC decided to sell the company to Elliott Automation[6] but the negotiations came to naught, so GEC continued with its existing business which was reorganised with GEC Electronics to bring together the related expertise in automation[7]. The GEC business was reorganised to exploit better the company's abilities in automation. Production of SDS computers under licence would continue[8]

1969 Formation of Marconi-Elliott Computer Systems

By 1973 the computer business was known as GEC Computers Ltd


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Prehistory of the 1900 Series Arthur Humphreys [1]
  2. The Times Feb. 27, 1961
  3. The Times, Jun 27, 1961
  4. The Times Feb. 22, 1967
  5. The Time Aug. 9, 1966
  6. The Times Feb 22, 1967
  7. The Times June 21, 1967
  8. The Times June 21, 1967