A Failure Revisited: The First Finnish Computer Construction Project

The establishing of a national computing center in Finland
  • Petri Paju
Conference paper

DOI: 10.1007/0-387-24168-X_7

Part of the IFIP International Federation for Information Processing book series (IFIPAICT, volume 174)
Cite this paper as:
Paju P. (2005) A Failure Revisited: The First Finnish Computer Construction Project. In: Bubenko J., Impagliazzo J., Sølvberg A. (eds) History of Nordic Computing. HiNC 2003. IFIP International Federation for Information Processing, vol 174. Springer, Boston, MA


In this article, the first Finnish computer construction, previously claimed to have produced only an out-dated machine, is studied as an integral part of an attempt to establish a national computer center in Finland. I argue that the aim of the Finnish Committee for Mathematical Machines (1954–1960) was more similar to its Swedish and Danish counterparts than has been recognized, even though the Finnish Committee decided to duplicate a German Gla computer in 1954. The similarity with Sweden and Denmark arises from the aim of the Committee to establish a national computing center, like the ones in Stockholm and Copenhagen, in Helsinki during its first two years. Furthermore, this plan for the national computing center, or the building of a single computer, the ESKO, did not gain the support it needed either from the state nor the former punched card machine users, because of the politically and economically difficult situation in post-war Finnish society. In the uncertain economic year of 1956, the Finnish punched card customers of IBM decided to continue collaborating with IBM alone. Moreover, IBM also benefited by receiving expert work force educated in the Committee’s computer construction project. Hopefully this Finnish case, being unsuccessful and therefore unlike other Scandinavian countries, can also assist in further comprehending the preconditions that lead to more successful developments like those in Sweden and Denmark.

Key words

Finnish Computing history Esko computer Scandinavian — German co-operation punched card use Rolf Nevanlinna 

Copyright information

© International Federation for Information Processing 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petri Paju
    • 1
  1. 1.Cultural HistoryUniversity of TurkuFinland

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