A short history of the Dowty IT Division

A short history of the Dowty Information Technology Division (successor to the Dowty Electronics Division)

In 1984 Dowty Electronics Division acquired graphics terminal manufacturer Gresham Lion, joining existing companies such as Dowty RFL.

A year later Dowty acquired Steebek Systems, a 4 year old modem manufacturer founded by Bob Jones.

In early 1987 the Dowty Information Technology Division was formed and was headed by Bruce Brain.  The IT Division incorporated all or most of what was in the Electronics Division.

Dowty then acquired Datatel, a US T1 multiplexer manufacturer.

In August 1988 Dowty IT Division made their largest acquisition – Case Communications, a large Watford based network equipment manufacturer.  This Case also owned Rixon, a US based telecom equipment supplier.

In January 1989 Dowty acquired Mayze Systems, a modem and multiplexer manufacturer started by Bob Jones (previously founder of Steebek Systems), giving Bob the distinction of being acquired twice by the same company.   The R&D and Marketing team of Mayze Systems formed the core of a new Dowty Advanced Development Centre based in Swindon.

Dowty acquired Dataco, a Danish networking company, in July 1990, giving the IT Division a broad range of networking and telecom expertise with 5 development centres in 3 countries and sales in 70 countries.

In January 1991 the key networking and telecom companies within the IT Division were combined into Dowty Communications in order to improve operational efficiency.

Some years earlier, Case Communication had launched a partner company – Cognito – which developed a forward looking two way messaging service.  This was positioned as being less expensive than cellular service but more interactive than pagers.  This required building out a nationwide network of radio towers, developing messaging terminals and hence required a large investment.

In July 1991 Cognito launched their service however received very little market acceptance.  As a result this became a financial burden to the parent company and they decided to sell the IT Division.

The management team put together an MBO proposal but were not able to secure funding, and the IT Division was acquired in September 1992 by Cray Electronics and renamed Cray Communications.

Acknowledgement to Dr Alan Clark for this article – thank you


Dr Alan Clark - Dowty Communications & Information Systems
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

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