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Bulgarian IT history : IMCO

In October 1979 the State Committee for Science and Technical Progress (SCSTP) contacted the Institute of Technical Cybernetics and Robotics (ITCR) with the task to "create a small computer based on microprocessors". The development of the computer was undertaken by a team led by Ivan Marangozov and including Kancho Dossev, Georgi Zhelyazkov and Petar Petrov.

The first three experimental units of the computer, which was called IMCO-1 (Individual Micro COmputer 1), were completed in late 1980 and approved by SCSTP. They were based on a little-known foreign model with Intel 8080 8-bit microprocessor. The computer had a built in BASIC and instead of having floppy disk drives, a cassette tape recorder was used as external memory. In 1981 The experimental base of ITCR produced around 50 units from this computer. They were given to institute and university laboratories to get acquainted with the capabilities of the personal microcomputers.
In the same year a robot controlled by IMCO-1was demonstrated at Robotics Forum in England. The decision to controll a robot by a microcomputer was a novelty at that time. It reduced costs and simplified maintenance compared with commonly used minicomputers to control robots.

In the same 1981 ITCR began development of a new personal microcomputer, meant to be implemented into serial production. As a result, in 1982 the development of IMCO-2 was completed. The computer was based on the highly successful Apple ][ plus model of the American company APPLE COMPUTERS Inc. and was fully compatible with it. Several dozen units were produced and later the Ministry of Education did place an order for another 200 units of IMCO-2. About half of those were distributed in schools around Bulgaria.
In the same time preparation for serial production began in the Instrument-building plant-Pravetz. Originally 9 units of IMCO-2 were assembled in the base for development and implementation of the plant.

In the summer of 1984 ITCR finished the development of IMCO-4 - the first Bulgarian 16-bit PC, fully compatible with IBM PC-XT. After successfully passing tests, at the end of the year the factory in Pravetz produced the first experimental units under the name "Pravetz 16" and serial production began in 1985.