Regnecentralen share its name with an old, well-known
Danish computer company founded on October 12, 1955. The
"old" Regnecentral, "A/S Regnecentralen", is now long gone.
We have chosen the name out of respect for the pioneering work done by
the "old" Regnecentral, and to signal our position as an
innovative yet conservative company. We founded our company
in the beginning of 2000 just before the "bubble" burst.
Most companies started in the bubbly days had names with
large concentrations of "exotic" characters (x, y, z, etc.)
and long series of buzz-words.
We chose the name "Regnecentralen"
to signal stability, reliability, and seriousity. We are still
here and we are just as reliable and serious as we have always
The history of the "old" Regnecentral - "A/S Regnecentralen"
is briefly described below.
Please note that there is no
affiliation whatsoever between the old "A/S Regnecentralen" and our
company. The full, legal name of our company is
"Regnecentralen i Aalborg".
Wikipedia about A/S Regnecentralen:
Regnecentralen, or RC for short, was the first Danish computer
company, founded on October 12, 1955. Through the 1950s and 60s they
designed a series of computers, originally for their own use, and
later to be sold commercially. Descendants of these systems sold well
into the 1980s. They also developed a series of high-speed paper tape
machines, and produced Data General Nova machines under license. They
are arguably the oldest remaining "computer-only" company in the
What would become RC started as an advisory board formed by the Danish
Academy of Applied Sciences to keep abreast of developments in "modern
electronic computers" taking place in other countries. After several
years in the advisory role, in 1952 they decided to form a computing
service bureau for Danish government, military and research uses. Led
by Niels Ivar Bech, the group was also given the details of the BESK
machine being designed at the Swedish Mathematical Center
The group decided to build their own version of the BESK to run the
bureau, and formed Regnecentralen in October 1955 to complete and run
the machine. The result was the DASK, a vacuum tube-based machine that
completed construction in 1956 and went into full operation in
February 1957. DASK was followed in 1962 by the fully transistorized
GIER, used for similar tasks. GIER proved to be a useful machine, and
went on to be used at many Danish universities. Bech also sold GIER
machines to the Eastern Bloc nations, starting with Czechoslovakia,
Hungary, and Bulgaria, and later Romania, the East Germany, and
RC was also home to Peter Naur, and DASK and GIER became particularly
well known for their role in the development of the famous ALGOL
programming language. After the first European ALGOL conference in
1959, RC started an effort to produce a series of compilers,
completing one for the DASK in September 1961. A version for the GIER
followed in August 1962. Christian Andersen, another RC employee,
wrote the first introductory text on the language, Everyman's Desk
ALGOL, in 1961.
In order to support higher throughput at their own service bureau, RC
developed several high-speed input/output devices. One of their most
popular was the RC 2000 paper tape reader, introduced in 1963. Feeding
the tape at 5 meters per second, the 2000 could read 2,000 characters
per second (CPS), storing the results in a buffer while the computer
periodically read the data back out instead of stopping the tape to
wait for the computer to get ready. The machine was later upgraded as
the RC 2500, increasing speed to almost 7 meters a second, improving
read speed to 2500 CPS. The RC 2000/2500 became a major product for RC
during the 1960s, selling 1,500 examples around the world. Several
related devices were added to the line, including a high-speed punch
and a dedicated data conversion machine that would "massage" data
between formats to ease the burden on the host computer.
In 1964 Regnecentralen was taken public, although the majority of the
company's shares were held by its biggest customers.
In the mid-1960s RC started the design of a small integrated
circuit-based computer system for industrial control and automation
needs, initially to fill a request by a Danish company to automate a
chemical factory they were building in Poland. The RC 4000 design
emerged in 1966 and was completed for the factory the next year. When
combined with appropriate peripherals, almost always including an RC
2000 along with several re-branded devices from other companies, the
RC 4000 was a highly reliable minicomputer, and went on to be sold
across Europe. The RC 8000 from the mid-1970s used newer-generation
ICs to shrink the RC 4000 into a single rack-mount system. The last in
the series, the RC 9000, further shrunk the machine and improved
performance to about 4 MIPS, and was sold in versions that could run
either RC 8000 programs, or Unix.
The RC 4000 is particularly famous for its operating system, developed
by Per Brinch Hansen. Known simply as Monitor, it is the first
real-world example of a system using an extremely simple kernel along
with a variety of user-selected programs that built up the system as a
whole. Today this concept is known as a microkernel, and efforts to
correct for Monitor's poor performance formed the basis of most OS
research through the 1970s and 80s.
RC also started selling the Data General Nova under license in 1970 as
the RC 7000, later introducing their own updated version as the RC
3600 the next year. This series filled a niche similar to the RC 4000,
but for much smaller installations. The RC 3600 became a fixture of
many Danish schools and universities.