European Software Agreement

Paris -- February 18, 1985 -- Reuters -- Six European computer makers announced today that they had adopted a software operating system based on one developed by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.

The accord is seen as a significant step toward standardization of European information technology.

The state-owned French corporation Bull, which announced the agreement, said the decision was likely to open up the market for professional computers, since the common software will permit communication among computers made by all six companies.

''People who have one computer and want to buy another won't have to worry about only buying equipment from the same maker,'' a Bull spokesman said.

For some time, European computer makers have been discussing common standards that would help them stave off the International Business Machine Corporation's growing penetration of the European market.

The Bull spokesman, however, denied reports that the use of A.T.&T.'s Unix system was intended to thwart I.B.M. He said that Unix is considered a world norm for professional computers and the agreement simply recognizes that fact.

In recent months, I.B.M. has indicated that it too would make it possible for its computers to run Unix or Unix derivatives.

A spokesman for Alcatel-Thomson, a subsidiary of the French state- owned computer and telecommunications group Compagnie Generale d'Electricite, said one of its small computers already uses the Unix system and added that an association of French Unix users had recently been formed.

Under the agreement, ICL, Nixdorf, Olivetti, Siemens, Philips and Bull will design software that can use a Unix derivative.

Bull said it, and most likely the other five companies, would continue to maintain software for clients that bought computers that use other systems.

In a communique, Bull said the six computer makers had begun technical discussions with A.T.&T, and large Unix systems distributors such as Microsoft in an effort to expand cooperation and assure wide use of the new software.

The emergence of increasingly common international standards in the information technology field is viewed by experts as a major transformation of the industry, and one likely to lead to both wider use of computers and reduced development costs for computer makers, industry sources said.

Copyright 1985 The New York Times Company