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Friday, January 27, 2012

A computer from Saab ? No problem ...

Did you know, that Saab had a computer departement which became a separate company ? While browsing, I found out, that the former Czechoslovakia bought 50 years ago a computer from Saab.

Saab had in the 60's a computer departement, later a separate company, which developed computers, firstly for the aviation industry and tried it to place also in other industry segments. The company was called Datasaab. Now, in 2012, the computers from the 60's looks like from the stone age, but still it has some retro magic inside.

Datasaab had an interesting history, through which they developed and sold several models. SARA, D21, D22, D15, D16 and D220, just to name some of them. Their main intention was to make a computer small enough to be placed in an aircraft, which was at that time a pure science-fiction. They even invented FCPU (flexible central processing unit), never patented that, but Intel did years after.

The company lasted from 1960 to 1975, when it was sold to Sperry UNIVAC, which doesn't exists anymore. The last known sale was to Ericsson and ICL. You can read more about the history of Datasaab o a dedicated page as well as on Wikipedia.

Also a guy called Göran Sundqvist tried to do computer music on the D21 in 1967. Some samples, you can listen to are located here. It sounds like computer music Sinclair Spectrum a computer from the 80's. Hey, but this is computer generated music from 1967 on a aircraft computer ! A pure avantgarde for the time where it comes from. In the same year, one of the digital pioneers Tangerine Dream were found and even three years later Kraftwerk started to exist.

There was also a Saab promotion video aiming at the computers, where also the D21 and D22 are shown. As well as some nice old Saabs. And funny music sometimes :) The language is swedish. It reminded me sometimes on the wonderful sci-fi series from the 70's called U.F.O.. Enjoy.

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