Friday, March 29, 2013

Six Decades of IT in India

Today it is impossible to image contemporary India without IT.  IT-related exports from India are expected to touch US $ 87 billion in 2014. However, the Computers entered India in 1955 and have made an enormous impact on its population and economy. Here is an first hand account of the events and happenings of Indian computer history by one of India's veteran Dr. V. Rajaraman 

Supercomputer Education and Research Centre
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012

The supercomputer "SAGA-220", built by the Satish Dhawan Supercomputing Facility located at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.

In thisreportI have traced the history of computing in India from 1955 to 2010. I have identified four break pointsin the historical development, each breakpoint bcaused by changes in the political climate and consequent changes in the government policies on the development of computers. The initial period 1955 to 1970 was a period of exploration with no specific government policies guiding this technology. However, there were a number of initiativestaken in education such asthe establishment ofthe Indian Institutes of
Technology and also starting the design and production of computers. The Bhabha Committee appointed by the Government of India in 1963 realized the importance of electronics and computers in national development and suggested establishment of the Department of Electronics (DoE) in the Government of India (GoI) to promote rapid growth of electronics and computers. This department was established in 1970 and was the first breakpoint.

From 1971 to 1978 the DoE laid stress on self‐reliant indigenous development of computers and a company called the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd. (ECIL) was financed to design, develop and market computers using primarily components made in India. ECIL made computers called TDC 312 and TDC 316 which were similar to the PDP series computers made by the Digital Equipment Corporation of the USA. The DoE also initiated many Research and Development (R&D) projects with assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The second break point came in 1978 after the government led by the Congress party was defeated in 1977. IBM which was at that time refurbishing obsolete 1401 computers in India was asked by the government to reduce equity, to take an Indian partner and to manufacture IBM 360 series computers. IBM refused and closed its operations in India in 1978.

The new government decided to open up computer manufacturing to the private sector and a number of companies started making minicomputers using imported microprocessors. UNIX was the Operating System of choice. For complete story see here

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