In February 1960, India's first full-scale digital computer—the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Automatic Calculator (TIFRAC)—was launched largely due to the efforts of Homi Jehangir Bhabha (1909-1966). Paying tribute to the remarkable vision of Bhabha, this book looks at India's past, present, and future in global IT and telecommunications.
Tracing the country's growth trajectory from habha's time, N.R. Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, Sam Pitroda, F.C. Kohli, and M.G.K.
Menon among several leading scientists, olicymakers, and industry leaders address digenous efforts in telecom revolution and ow computer and IT can bring about positive changes in our lives. From computerization of services and e-governance to the computer's impact on biotechnology, IT for power infrastructure, and transport—the essays address wide-ranging issues of tremendous topical relevance. Setting the tone of the volume, the Introduction looks at the contribution of Bhabha and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) to the computer revolution in its nascent stages, and later, when India gained prominence as a global player.
With a Foreword by Ratan N. Tata highlighting the country's journey towards self-reliance in IT and telecom, this volume will appeal to students and teachers of computer science and telecommunications, IT and telecom industry professionals, policymakers, and anybody interested to know more about the India story.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
R.K. Shyamasundar is Senior Professor, Faculty of Technology and Computer Science, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai.
M.A. Pai is Professor Emeritus, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
This book is part of the birth centenary celebrations of the founder of
the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Homi J. Bhabha.
Bhabha’s visionary role in the development of diverse branches of
science and technology in India, most notably nuclear technology and
molecular biology, is well known and documented. This volume focuses
on a not so widely known or acknowledged contribution of Bhabha
which has been of great significance—the role of TIFR in the creation
and evolution of India’s computer industry, where India’s prowess is
recognized globally today.
Right from the inception of TIFR, Bhabha had been aware of the key
role of electronics and instrumentation, not only for nuclear electronics
but also for a wide spectrum of applications ranging from the space
programme to health physics. He was among the early ones to recognize
that electronics was one of the most vital and essential branches of
modern technology that India needed to master if it was to become
The imperatives of conducting research at TIFR also acted as a spur
in furthering Bhabha’s involvement with the then nascent field of digi-
tal computers. The workforce of high calibre that Bhabha put together
at TIFR, expectedly, created a robust demand for instrumentation for
scientific experiments at a time when the institute was still dependent
mostly on analogue computers. In response, Bhabha, drawing on his
personal knowledge of the work being done in overseas universities in
building computers for physics research, set up a special group commit-
ting TIFR to build its own digital computer.
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Automatic Calculator
(TIFRAC), India’s first full-scale digital computer, made its debut
in 1960, and TIFR scientists became among the early users to use
computers and its applications for a large-scale professional effort. Tata
Institute of Fundamental Research Automatic Calculator came to be
subsequently widely used by the atomic energy establishment, defence
sectors, educational institutes, etc., as these users learnt to trust the
ability of TIFR to build large and complex systems with simple and
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Automatic Calculator was
followed by the setting up of the National Computation Centre at TIFR
in 1964 when it imported the then state-of-the-art CDC 3600 160A.
Around that time, IIT Kanpur, set up with the help of the US, also
became a hub for the new and exciting world of computers. Thus it
was through their academic work and the creation of a critical mass of
computer scientists in the country that TIFR and IIT Kanpur sowed
the seeds of excellence in electronics and computer technology in India,
contributing to making India a global force in the computer industry.
This book, jointly edited by R.K. Shyamasundar of TIFR and M.A.
Pai of the University of Illinois, is a fitting tribute to Bhabha for his
role and vision in sowing the seeds of the IT industry in India. The
volume also traces the subsequent developments in indigenous efforts in
India’s telecom revolution and concludes with an overview of some key
fields in computer science and IT that have potential applications in the
betterment of society. | am pleased to commend this welcome addition
to the corpus of Indian books on the role of science and technology in
improving our quality of life.
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