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  3. A Wave of International Standardization (1970-1979)

A Wave of International Standardization (1970-1979)

The history of technology is also a history of standardization. Even if manufacturers build products to their own standards, if a product becomes a de facto standard, other manufacturers will try to make products compatible with it. Computers were no exception, and Fujitsu was at a cross road in its road to growth.

Until the 1970s, one company's software wouldn't run on another company's hardware because all computer manufacturers built their machines according to their own proprietary technical specifications

In the 1970s, the IBM architecture became the de facto international standard. For other companies this meant that, if they built computers that were compatible with IBM's and could run the same software, they might be able to gain market share. For the majority of manufacturers who built IBM-compatible machines, however, the result was often the other way around—they faced greater competition and many went out of business.

Concluding that it had to compete based on international standards and succeed by building superior products, Fujitsu undertook a drastic shift in strategy. First, with trade liberalization progressing, Fujitsu formed a partnership with Hitachi, Ltd. under the condition that the two companies would share IBM-compatible architecture.

When Dr. Gene Amdahl, who had been in charge of developing IBM's 360 series, left IBM to set up Amdahl Corporation, Fujitsu invested in the new company (in 1997 the company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu) and collaborated in developing IBM-compatible mainframes. Amdahl's first commercial product, the 470 V/6, was manufactured at Fujitsu's Kawasaki plant. These mainframes, which underwent an extremely rigorous testing and evaluation process, were purchased by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in 1975.

Besides jointly developing computers with Amdahl, Fujitsu also developed IBM-compatible machines on its own. The FACOM M Series, designed to help existing users of Fujitsu computers migrate to IBM-compatible machines, was an enormous success.

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