The British IT industry will wave goodbye to ICL on 2 April, when the Fujitsu subsidiary changes its name to Fujitsu Services. Announcing the details of the name change, the company also took the opportunity to present a gloomy forecast, with no expectation of an upturn in services until 2003.
The long-expected end of the historic name is part of a rebranding exercise which reflects the current status of the company. Fujitsu will bring together all its services and consulting arms as part of a so-called "global push" in IT services, a sector where the company is currently placed third.
Fujitsu announced last summer that the ICL brand would be dropped, but the new name has been a mystery, with "Fujitsu Solutions" widely expected. ICL, which employs 15,500 people and claims a number two position in IT services in the UK, will work closely with Fujitsu Consulting, a subsidiary currently called DMR Consulting. DMR has around 1,300 employees in the UK, and 9,000 worldwide.
ICL has a special place in the history of computing as a descendant of the company which sold the first commercial computer. The company was formed in 1968, from the merger of English Electric with ICT. English Electric owned LEO, the company that built the first commercial programmable computer in 1952.
Through the 1970s, the company led the UK computer industry, producing mainframes to compete with IBM. By the end of the 1980s, the company was struggling, and Fujitsu took a majority stake in 1990.
The move away from hardware manufacturing towards services during the 1990s was logical, and became obvious when the company bought Nokia's IT services arm in 1991 and shed its last manufacturing plants in 1996. Fujitsu bought the remaining shares in the company in 1998, and announced the end of the brand in June 2001.
The name has outlasted other giants of its era such as Digital Equipment, Burroughs and Data General, and many upstarts that started since that time.