Axel was based in the industrial area of Courtaboeuf,
near Paris. There was also Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Tektronix, MBC and
R2E. Axel was founded at the start of the year 1982 and their first computer
was the AX-20, designed around a 16-bit Intel 8088 CPU. Three persons
are at the origine of Axel: Gilbert Dhuim, mathematics master at the Créteil
University, Jacky Bourbon and Georges Cottin, two MBC's former employees.
The first one was in charge of the software, the second one in charge
of the hardware and the third one was the founder-leader, "mister
Georges Cottin said: "We
have conceived a small 16-bit computer which can operate 24 hours a day
in an hostile environment".
Cottin is an experienced man: at 16, he joins up the ship's boys school.
In 1965, he is the specialist of the radars and on board computers of
the Suffren, the first "press-button" ship of the French national
marine. That was the first time Georges worked daily on a computer. 18
months later, he enters Hewlett-Packard in the calculator branch. "I
started to be interested in microprocessors in 1972 when the Intel 8008
was first presented in France. I immediately imagined using it to conceive
a computer", he recalls.
Two years later, Alain Isambert, a young engineer in training
period at HP, and Jean-Pierre Bouhot, chief editor of "L'informatique
Nouvelle" magazine, rejoin Georges Cottin. The trio starts to work
and design a prototype in 1975. In 1976, they create their own company,
MBC, with less than 30 000 FF. Their first computer was called the Alcyane.
"We made the circuits by hand and we received
our first twenty customers in my dining rooms", recalls Georges
In 1980, MBC makes a turnover of 14.5 millions francs. In
1981, it had sold a thousand systems, but a shareholder retires. The MATRA
group then buys back MBC in february 1981, and in june Georges Cottin
For the second time in less than six years, Georges founds
another company with two persons met while at MBC, Jacky Bourbon and Gilbert
Dhuim (a former MBC customer). At the start of 1982, they create Axel.
Matra holds 35% of the new company's assets.
Six months later, they conceive their first product, the
AX-20. "Our product starts a new range. We
spent one million francs for the mechanical part. From now, we just have
to decline the mainboard to adapt the system to more powerful microprocessors,
because 8-bits are dead. We notably use the new Intel 16-bit CPU, which
represents an investment of 200 000 francs. But unlike most of our competitors,
most other parts of the AX-20 are made in France."
1982 - AX-20
1984 - AX-25