Nixdorf computer

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Nixdorf Computer AG

legal form Corporation
founding 1st October 1968
resolution September 30, 1990
Seat Paderborn
Number of employees 31,037 worldwide (1988)
sales 5.347 billion DM (1988)

The Nixdorf Computer AG was founded in 1968 as a successor to the laboratory for impulse technique (LFI) in food from Heinz Nixdorf founded. The company was one of the most important and innovative computer manufacturers in Europe .

Predecessor company laboratory for pulse technology

As a working student at the American office machine manufacturer Remington Rand Corp. active, Nixdorf worked on the development of simple counting devices, so-called multiplication and balancing works. However, the further development of the computer project was stopped after a few months by the company management - the market value of the calculating machines was not recognized - whereupon Nixdorf, who recognized the market potential, presented his concept of an electronic computer based on radio tubes to several large companies. At the Rheinisch-Westfälische Elektrizitätswerke (RWE), Nixdorf met with interest and trust, so that he was given a development contract worth DM 30,000 and founded the laboratory for pulse technology on July 1, 1952 . In 1952, the first electronic computer on a radio tube basis was delivered to RWE's accounting department, and further developments were carried out the following year. The innovation and expansion phase of the new company proceeded in leaps and bounds, so that the LFI from the producer of calculators for RWE AG in the 1950s, quickly becoming the supplier of electronic calculators for major office equipment manufacturers such as the Exacta Office GmbH - 1963 Wanderer-Werke - in Cologne and the Compagnie des Machines Bull in Paris . In 1954, the company was forced to move out of the work space initially provided by RWE due to a lack of space and to rent new premises. New electronic computers were constantly being developed, such as the electronically multiplying booking machine Multitronic 6000 or the Wanderer Conti presented in 1963, which was once the world's first desk calculator with a built-in printer . In 1965, the Logatronic, distributed by Wanderer, followed, which the LFI further developed in 1967 into the Nixdorf Universal Computer 820 . The rapid expansion of the company meant that the first rooms in Nixdorf's native Paderborn were rented as early as 1957 . A year later, Nixdorf and the entire company moved from Essen to Paderborn and the first factory building was built in 1961 on Pontanusstrasse, which now houses the Technical City Hall of Paderborn. In 1967 Nixdorf saw the opportunity to no longer just act as a supplier , but to take responsibility for selling the products himself. The first branches were founded and the LFI showed its presence by setting up a second depot in Berlin . The company gained public awareness in 1968 with the purchase and takeover of its largest customer, the Wanderer-Werke in Cologne.

Foundation and development of Nixdorf Computer AG

Heinz Nixdorf (company founder)
Introduction of the shares of Nixdorf Computer AG on the Düsseldorf Stock Exchange in 1984. Interview with F. Wilhelm Christians (Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank), Herbert Zapp (Member of the Board of Deutsche Bank), Heinz Nixdorf and Gerhard Schmidt (Chairman of the NCAG Supervisory Board).

With the acquisition of the Wanderer shares and thus the Wanderer works - the purchase price was 17.2 million DM - Nixdorf no longer only had efficient development and production departments, but also had its own sales structure. With the takeover of Wanderer's shares by Nixdorf in April 1968, the former Wanderer factories and the Laboratory for Impulse Technology merged to form Nixdorf Computer AG (NCAG), based in Paderborn , on October 1st of the same year . The quick success of NCAG was based on the development of a new computer market: medium-sized data technology and decentralized electronic data processing . Mass manufacturers such as IBM continued to rely on mainframe computers and centralized data processing, although mainframe computers were too expensive for small and medium-sized companies and large manufacturers could not serve this market . Nixdorf stepped into this market niche with the modular Nixdorf 820, bringing the computer directly to the workplace and enabling small and medium-sized companies to use electronic data processing at an affordable price.

In the period that followed, large companies could also be won as customers who used the Nixdorf system in their foreign branches for cost reasons. The hardware and software packages were individually tailored to the customer, with training courses familiarizing customers with the use of the decentralized IT system. Major competitors in the area of medium-sized data technology were Kienzle Apparate , Triumph-Adler , Olivetti , Philips , NCR and Dietz Computer . In 1968 , computers from Paderborn found their way overseas with a 100 million mark order from the American office machine manufacturer Victor Comptometer , which was taken over in 1972 . In addition to the constant domestic expansion of the sales network, NCAG later also gained a foothold in the USA and Japan .

In the 1970s NCAG rose to become the market leader in medium-sized data technology in Germany and developed into the fourth largest computer manufacturer in Europe with production facilities in Germany, Ireland , Spain , the USA and Singapore . In 1972 the Westphalian computer manufacturer was represented in 22 countries around the world. The worldwide expansion led to brisk construction activity at the company headquarters: In 1971, the new headquarters on Fürstenallee were moved into in the Paderauen - today Heinz-Nixdorf-Aue. Today the building houses the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum and the Heinz Nixdorf Institute of the University of Paderborn . On the former Untere Frankfurter Weg - today Heinz-Nixdorf-Ring - new production facilities were built, which were awarded the German Architecture Prize for Industrial Buildings.

From 1975 onwards, NCAG brought out an urgently needed new generation of data acquisition and data processing systems: the 88xx series. The old 820 system had finally outlived itself. In addition to the data processing sector, NCAG had continuously opened up other market segments since 1971. One segment related to electronic cash register systems and banking terminals. In Sweden, the largest data processing network at the time could be implemented with bank terminals from Nixdorf. The other segment was the area of ​​data acquisition systems, whereby data was stored on electromagnetic tapes and no longer on punch cards as before . The plant brought the necessary successes in the mid-1970s, when the company found itself in an economically critical situation. An adequate successor to the Nixdorf 820 was initially missing, because in times of constant expansion and economic success, product development was simply neglected.

The success story of NCAG continued with the introduction of the 88xx system, and one year after the company's 25th anniversary - in 1978 - total sales exceeded the billion mark mark for the first time. At the time, NCAG employed over 10,000 people worldwide.

In order to adequately train the NCAG apprentices on the computer , Nixdorf set up an in-house vocational school in 1969 , from whose sponsoring association the Education Center for Information Processing Professions (bib) emerged in 1972 . Furthermore, according to a directive from Nixdorf, physical education was compulsory for the trainees. Kurt Bendlin , winner of the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968, was available as a contact for sports. In 1984 Nixdorf set up the Ahorn Sports Park on the NCAG premises in order to give the workforce the opportunity to do sports . The sports park was also available to the Paderborn citizens and can still be used free of charge today.

In order to adapt employees at all hierarchical levels to the growing company, the one-week Nixdorf kick-off program (NAP) was carried out from the end of the 1970s. These quarterly kick-off events at changing conference locations - mostly in the Sauerland Stern Hotel conference hotel in Willingen - initially consisted of a tour of the administration and production facilities in Paderborn and then continued at the conference location with specialist presentations from individual company departments. In the days that followed, the new employees had to work on various problem solutions in working groups. The primary goals of the NAP were networking among employees, identifying and integrating new employees, and imparting knowledge in a lively and practical way in order to achieve the best possible and long-term added value for the company.

The rapid growth made it necessary to acquire new funds. In 1978 Nixdorf turned down an offer from Volkswagen AG , which wanted to take a majority stake in NCAG. Deutsche Bank , on the other hand, received the commitment, paying DM 200 million for a stake of 25 percent. Additional capital, around DM 300 million, was gained by going public on the Düsseldorf stock exchange in 1984 , and a year later the issue of subscription rights yielded a further DM 700 million. In Germany and abroad, production capacities were constantly expanded in the mid-1980s.

In 1984 Nixdorf merged with other European companies to form the BISON Group (Bull, ICL, Siemens, Olivetti, Nixdorf) and wanted to develop a uniform European standard under the label X / Open , but failed because of compatibility. The attempt to switch to open Unix systems with the Targon system also failed.

In 1985 sales rose to almost DM 4 billion and profits amounted to DM 172 million. At that time, 23,300 people were employed in 44 countries. The following year was overshadowed by the death of the company founder. On March 17, 1986 Nixdorf succumbed to the consequences of a heart attack at the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover .

Development of Nixdorf Computer AG after the death of the company founder

The successor to Nixdorf came in April 1986, Klaus Luft , who was able to announce another record in the first year after the death of Nixdorf. Sales rose to over DM 5 billion and the company employed over 30,000 people worldwide. When the DAX was founded in 1988, Nixdorf Computer AG was one of the companies listed there. However, it could not follow the fundamental change in the computer and electronics industry. Important market trends such as the triumphant advance of personal computers were missed, and a rapid drop in prices characterized the meanwhile highly competitive mass market for medium-sized data technology . In addition, the sudden death of Nixdorf caused the company to experience a succession crisis. The management made massive investments, although there were no corresponding funds on the income side. At the end of 1989, after three and a half years, the chairman of the board, Klaus Luft, had to vacate his position under pressure from the supervisory board with immediate effect and was replaced by Horst Nasko. Due to the huge operational losses, the owners were forced to sell the company.

Takeover by Siemens

On October 1, 1990, Siemens took over the majority of Nixdorf ordinary shares and initially merged Nixdorf Computer AG with the data and information technology division of Siemens AG to form Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG (SNI). In 1992, Siemens acquired 100% of the shares in SNI after a squeeze-out and incorporated it into Siemens AG. After a painful downsizing with the loss of several thousand jobs in Paderborn in the early 1990s, SNI was able to establish itself as the largest European computer company from around the middle of the decade. In 1995, the service and solution business in the areas of information technology and telecommunications was separated from the company SNI and transferred together with parts of Siemens AG to Siemens Business Services GmbH and Co OHG (SBS), then based in Paderborn and Munich . On October 1, 1998, the SNI was dissolved as a stock corporation and fully integrated into Siemens AG, with further parts being moved to SBS. The name Siemens Nixdorf lived on for another year in the form of Siemens Nixdorf Banking and Retail Systems GmbH.

Foundation of new companies

On October 1, 1999, the trading and banking-specific activities of SNI were separated from the Siemens Group due to a portfolio streamlining and taken over by the equity investment companies Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners . The name was changed to Wincor Nixdorf International GmbH . The company had been listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange since mid-2004 (until 2019) and was called Wincor Nixdorf until 2016 (since then Diebold Nixdorf Holding Germany). The business areas include ATMs , cash register systems and empties machines .

The joint venture Fujitsu Siemens Holding was founded in 1999 from the computer division of SNI and the subsidiary Fujitsu Computers Europe of the Japanese technology group Fujitsu . Computer systems were sold under the brand name Fujitsu Siemens Computers . On April 1, 2009, Siemens sold its company shares to Fujitsu. The part of the company sold to Fujitsu is now called Fujitsu Technology Solutions GmbH and is still based in Germany (Munich).

As early as the 1990s, targeted outsourcing from SNI and the initiative of former Nixdorf and SNI employees created a growing environment of specialized IT suppliers and providers that responded well to the new market conditions created primarily by the Internet. Important examples are Orga Kartensysteme GmbH, now Sagem Orga, and Paragon .


System families 620 to 880

  • System family 620 (data collection, from 1974 to 1984): The data collection system Nixdorf 620 was used in central and decentralized data collection in business and administration and continuously developed by Nixdorf. In 1982 NCAG was the market leader for data collection systems in Germany with this system, with a market share of around 40 percent. This system was based on developments by the US computer manufacturer Entrex .
Nixdorf 820 from 1968
  • Nixdorf 820 (from 1968 to 1979): The forerunner of the Nixdorf 820 universal computer was theLogatronic developedby the Laboratory for Impulse Technology (LFI) and sold by Wanderer. The arithmetic unit of the 820 system family was based on semiconductors, with silicon transistors being used at an early stage. An IBM ball-head typewriter was used as the system writing unit, which other manufacturers of comparable systems did not use due to the high price. In contrast to competitors who integrated their computers into desks or typewriter tables, NCAG developed a desk chassis with an independent design for the 820. The different customer requests led to a large number of model variants of the 820, for example as invoicing, billing or magnetic account computers, with a consistent focus on the respective market segments.
  • Nixdorf 840 (from 1973 to 1979): Further development of the 820 computer. In addition to the known possible uses of the 820, the 840 system also enabled direct data processing and remote data transmission and thus a combination and communication with other EDP systems (data center). Dot matrix printers were used as output devices.
  • Nixdorf 880 (from 1972 to 1975): First NCAG system with direct access memory (magnetic disks). The short production time is due to the new development of product families in the field of magnetic plate systems.
  • System family 700 (cash register systems, from 1971 to 1981): The system family 700 comprised the Nixdorf cash register systems 705 and 710 as well as the terminal system 720. From the outset, the different powerful individual systems with a CPU with microprocessor, with a special printer according to cash register requirements and with a data backup system were included Power failure.

System family 88xx and other products

Nixdorf 8810/25
  • Nixdorf 8810 (from 1986): PC system with microprocessor. Features: 5¼ inch floppy disk drive and 14 inch color screen. MS-DOS software. The Nixdorf 8810 personal computer was used for data processing and remote transmission. The PC was used by freelancers and medium-sized companies.
  • Nixdorf 8811 data telephone ( Datatel system , from 1975 to 1979, predecessor models with rotary dial as early as 1973): The data telephone, equipped with keypad dialing and an LED display, enabled dialogue between the telephone and computer, so that information was output directly from the computer via the 8811 system could become. A low-noise printer (metal burn-in process) was provided as the data output device and an optionally available alphanumeric keyboard expanded the character set from 20 to 55 characters. However, despite its innovative character, the Post refused to approve it, so the data telephone was not an economic success.
  • Nixdorf 8812 POS system (from 1976): Consistent further development of the Nixdorf POS systems 705 and 710. The 8812 equipped with a microcomputer was used in retail and in the catering / hotel industry. Further equipment features included an international 10-key keyboard, an operating display with an alphanumeric and a numeric display field each and a print station for receipt and journal. The 8812 trading terminal was connected to the 8862 central system.
  • Nixdorf 8812/200 POS system (from 1986): Development based on the 8812. This POS system was equipped with a 9-inch screen, a customer display, a banking POS terminal with integrated card reader, a barcode reader, a stationary scanner and a Hand scanner and a mini dot matrix printer.
  • Nixdorf 8814 (88SP) voice mail system : produced between 1985 and 1990.
  • Nixdorf 8815 word processing system (from 1977): A minicomputer acted as the central unit, and floppy disks were used as the storage medium. The output took place via dot matrix printer. All functional elements were individually adjustable and housed on a height-adjustable worktop.
  • Nixdorf 8818 digital switching system ISDN (from 1982): With the Nixdorf 8818 DVS presented in 1982, NCAG was the first German manufacturer of a digital switching system, at the same time the 8818 system was the first digital switching system approved by the post in Germany. Between 30 and 3000 telephones or terminals could be connected to the 8818. In the network, the 8818 system could serve up to approx. 12,000 extensions. The switching capacity of the 80-600 models enabled 246 participants, and even up to 512 participants for the 3000 model, to speak or hold conference calls with up to six participants at the same time. A phone number memory for ten phone numbers as well as a quick redial was available to every user. The high point of the system was reached with the introduction of software releases 5.1 and 5.2, with which the full network capability of the system and multi-customer capability was introduced. Network capability means that systems installed in differently dislocated locations are available for all subscriber functions in every system. All interconnected (max. 255) systems (star or mesh) behave like a single physical system with cross-system performance features (for example, callback from one node to the other, transferring calls, number porting and performance features from one node to the other). Multiple and system capability means that different independent or interlinkable company configurations can be programmed in a physical system. The Octopus E model 300/800 is its fully compatible successor and also uses the NICOS operating system, but the hardware was developed in parallel to the Hicom 150H office Com / Hipath 3700. However, it is to be administered in the same way as an 8818. The system was sold until 2006, all pure UP0 and UP0-E terminals (except for OpenStage and newer) from the Siemens range and the ISDN system telephones from Nixdorf as well as all Gigaset Professional handsets can be used on it. The maximum expansion is 800 participants with 1024 switching points, up to 255 systems can be fully networked across systems to form a physical system, the 8818 can be largely integrated. Network modules enable IP system telephony and system networking, call center operation with up to 1024 agents can be implemented with on-board resources without additional servers.
  • Nixdorf 8820 Terminal System (from 1975 to 1984): Freely programmable system for data acquisition and terminal operation. Floppy discs were used as mass storage media. The system was used in shipping departments to record, evaluate and control incoming and outgoing goods.
  • Nixdorf 8830/35 (from 1974 to 1982): The systems of the 883X series were the last development stages of the 820 and 840 system family. It was a single-user magnetic plate system with a compact design, equipped with a screen and a Nixdorf dot matrix printer.
  • Nixdorf 8850 data communication system / data collection system (from 1982): Further development of the data collection system 620 with increased capacity and up to 24 workstations.
  • Nixdorf 8840 word processing system (from 1979 to 1990): The electronic writing aid Multitext 8840 was designed as a multi-user system, whereby each writing station could be equipped with a type wheel printer. Routine work such as writing standard letters, pre-printed forms, serial letters etc. has been made easier by storing them on the central unit's magnetic disks. The printer made it possible to write up to ten copies through the type wheel.
  • Nixdorf 8862 trade information system (from 1976): The central system 8862 linked the components 8812 with each other and enabled a control and query of the goods cycle from the order to the issue to the inventory.
  • Nixdorf 8864 bank terminal (from 1975): Use in retail and banking as a multi-job computer. Dialog traffic, inventory management, data collection, etc. possible in the terminal central unit. Floppy disks, magnetic disks and magnetic tapes were provided as storage. Special peripheral units such as check readers and cash dispensers were specially tailored to the banks' customer requirements.
  • Nixdorf 8870 M (from 1983 to 1986/87): NCAG developed in-house as a hard disk dialog computer. Builds on the 8870 / g and / u range. Discontinued due to the launch of the Quattro.
  • Nixdorf 8870 / g (from 1973 to 1982): Successor to the Nixdorf 880. Computer system with magnetic disk storage and a maximum of four workstations. The 8870 / g was used for inventory monitoring, ordering, accounting, wage and salary accounting, parts list organization and data acquisition and processing.
  • Nixdorf 8870 / u (from 1976 to 1986/87): Independent data processing system for data acquisition and data processing. Use as a single or multi-user system (up to 24 computer workstations). Since 1977 delivery of the 8870 systems with the COMET user software, which could be adapted to the customer-specific operating requirements and tailored to the individual task areas.
  • Nixdorf 8890 : In 1980 Nixdorf Computer AG entered the market of IBM-compatible low end mainframes / Plug Compatible Manufacturers (PCM) with the Nixdorf system family 8890. The system 8890 C, IBM / 370 and 4300 compatible, sales approval III 1980, was a multi-station system from the Israeli electronics company Elbit, adapted to Nixdorf standards. All essential peripheral controllers were integrated in the 8890-C system (so-called direct connections). One of these controllers was available for the direct connection of up to 32 local screen workstations. A compatible display system (CDS 8270) developed by Nixdorf made it possible to connect up to 256 additional Nixdorf terminals. Production and further development of the 8890-C were in Paderborn. There were three models: 8890-C30 (0.3 MIPS), 8890-C50 (0.5 MIPS), and 8890-C70 (0.7 MIPS). The following operating systems were supported: NIDOS / VSE (Nixdorf Disk Operating System), EDOS / VS, EDOS / VSE, VM / 370, DOS / VS, DOS / VSE and OS / VS1. The System 8890-D, IBM / 370 and / 390 as well as 4300 compatible, sales release 1985, was obtained from the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Hitachi, Japan. There were four models: 8890-D13 (1.3 MIPS), 8890-D18 (1.8 MIPS), 8890-D23 (2.3 MIPS), and 8890-D23 (2.3 MIPS). Supported operating systems: such as 8890-C plus MVS and a Nixdorf Comet emulator under VM. By mid-1989 a total of around 1000 8890 systems - including around 100 D models - had been delivered to customers worldwide.
  • Nixdorf BT01 (from 1987): BTX telephone with separate color screen and alphanumeric keyboard. Data processing in the area of ​​text, image and language is possible.
  • Nixdorf LK 3000 Application-specific pocket computer (1979) with modules for language translation or customer-specific databases. The developer and manufacturer was Lexicon, USA.
  • AKT - Automatic cash safe (to 8864)
  • Digifon , digital telephone (Digifon Basis, Digifon Solo, Digifon Komfort, RNG, Digifon Solo / 2S, Digifon Solo / 2U, Digifon Comfort / 2, RNG / 2, AFT / 1, AFT / 2 AFT / 3, only for System 8818 , partly also Octopus E model 300/800, no standard procedure).
  • IBAS - first ISDN small private branch exchange (development not completed due to Siemens takeover).
  • Logofon , analog telephone family (Logofon Basis, Logofon Info, Logofon Hotel, Logofon Komfort, Logofon Mobil), developed and built by Hagenuk for Nixdorf.
  • Octophon , digital telephone for the Deutsche Bundespost (Octophon 21S, 21U, 23 and 24, RNG, RNG / 2, AFT / 1, AFT / 2 AFT / 3, only for system 8818, partly also Octopus E model 300/800, no Standard procedure).
  • Petrol station systems with control of the petrol pump display and data transmission to the cash register.
  • Targon / 31/32/35 system families : From 1988 these systems were used in banks, industry and trade. All three system families were operated under AT&T Unix System V. The Targon / 31 and / 32 systems were based on the Motorola 680xx processor family and were positioned as "small" servers. At this point in time, today's client-server structures were already covered by this system. In 1990 it was possible to run Microsoft Windows 3.11 as a client with a Targon / 31 as a print and file server.
    • The Targon / 32 family was designed as a fault tolerant system. CPU, memory and hard disk exchange were possible during operation.
    • Targon / 35 served the large Unix installations and was not an in-house development by Nixdorf, but a purchase from Pyramid Technology .


  • Christian Berg: Heinz Nixdorf. A biography (studies and sources on Westphalian history, vol. 82). Schoeningh, Paderborn / Munich / Vienna / Zurich 2016, ISBN 978-3-506-78227-4 .
  • Klaus Kemper: Heinz Nixdorf - a German career . Landsberg / Lech 1986. Verlag Moderne Industrie, new edition 2001, ISBN 3-478-30120-3 .
  • Heinz Nixdorf Foundation: Heinz Nixdorf - Pictures of Life . Paderborn 2004. to be acquired in the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum , (PDF).
  • Lorenz Hanewinkel: Computer Revolution . My path with Konrad Zuse and Heinz Nixdorf. Verlag Druckerei Kleine, Paderborn 2010, ISBN 3-9807412-7-3 .
  • Armand van Dormael: Heinz Nixdorf, A German Computer Pioneer. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013, ISBN 1-4801-5572-1 .
  • Annual reports of Nixdorf Computer AG from 1968–1991, archive of the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum.

Individual evidence

  1. 50 years ago: Nixdorf Computer AG is born ,, article from October 1, 2018.
  2. Datatel system Nixdorf 8811. In: Retrieved February 18, 2018 . PDF
  3. 8818 info page. In: Retrieved December 4, 2018 .

Web links

Coordinates: 51 ° 43 ′ 52.4 "  N , 8 ° 44 ′ 10.2"  E