Very few computer companies can trace their history back 75 years, as Fujitsu can. And few indeed can show off a legacy that includes the development of some of the key technologies on which computing depends.
Many of them were first thought up and implemented by the British computer company ICL, which enjoyed a close working relationship with the University of Manchester. The business side of ICL was unable to do justice to the company's technology. The product of a series of mergers and acquisitions, ICL was itself acquired by Fujitsu in 1998.
Fujitsu, by some measures the world's number three computer firm, is today the largest Japanese employer in the UK and Ireland, with 11,500 staff. UK sales top £2bn, and it recently won the UK's biggest desktop contract, for more than one million desktops at the Department for Work and Pensions.
Fujitsu's involvement with ICL began in the 1960s as technology hardware was changing from emitter coupled logic (ECL) to complementary metal oxide silicon (CMOS). ICL, which had its own chip plant at the time, decided it would be cheaper to buy its hardware from specialists, and Fujitsu began supplying ICL.
In 1990, Fujitsu took an 80% stake in ICL, completing the takeover in 1998. The ICL name was dropped in 2002.
Fujitsu UK and Ireland CEO Roger Gilbert said the years had seen the company change its shape and focus, but the impulse to innovate has been constant. "The way the world adopts technology is changing and extending to the mass public. This is throwing up unprecedented challenges for organisations," he said.
"Some of them are finally seeing that IT is a driving force in helping them overcome some of those challenges."
Fujitsu global CTO Marc Silvester said the next big thing in computing will be the move to a subscription model. "No longer will it be a case of simply paying for what you use, rather one where different types of information have a value and therefore where you can 'subscribe and thrive'," he said.
Key Fujitsu innovations:
- 1935 - The Step-by-Step telephone switching machine
- 1945 - The Fuji Model-3 telephone
- 1954 - The Facom-100 mainframe computer
- 1970 - Built air-cooled chip sets for Amdahl 470, the first IBM comptible mainframe
- 1974 - The ICL 2900 series mainframe, the world's first virtual machine environment
- 1979 - The ICL Distributed Array Processor, the world's massively first parallel computer
- 1980 - The Oays 100, the first Japanese language word processor
- 1989 - Colour plasma displays
- 2003 - Palm vein authentication
- 2010 - The world's first 3D PC.
This was first published in July 2010