When Heinz Nixdorf founded his Labor für Impulstechnik in Essen in 1952, it was still the early days of the German computer industry. With only the idea for building an electronic calculator, the physics student persuaded the RWE electricity company in Essen to be his first customer. RWE provided him with a room and an advance of DM 30,000.
The first devices for RWE worked successfully, and the young company soon became a supplier of electronic arithmetic and logic units for leading office machine manufacturers, such as Wanderer-Werke in Cologne and Compagnie des Machines Bull in Paris. With the development of a freely programmable small computer, Nixdorf gained entry to the small and medium-sized enterprises market in 1964. His 820 system was so successful that he began to set up his own sales network in 1967.
In April 1968, Heinz Nixdorf bought out the Cologne-based Wanderer-Werke, his biggest customer to date, for DM 17.5 million. In the same year, his company was renamed Nixdorf Computer AG (NCAG) and moved to Paderborn.
Building on the extensive sales network of Wanderer-Werke, Nixdorf now sold his products under his own name. Sales and customer service were expanded systematically. In 1985, NCAG had subsidiaries in 44 countries, and recorded international sales of DM 4 thousand million with a workforce of 23,000 employees.
Seven production sites were maintained in Germany, Ireland, Spain, USA and Singapore. As elsewhere in the electronics industry, computer production at NCAG underwent drastic change. Growing component integration and the development of new manufacturing procedures caused manual production to give way to automatic processes, completely changing production workplaces.
In 1988, two years after the founder's death, the company was hit by crisis. High losses forced NCAG to search for a partner. In 1990, Siemens AG acquired a majority holding and merged the company with its own computer division to form Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG.