ETIS Community Gathering 2013
17-18 Oct. Riga, Latvia
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In 1988, Dr John Spackman, Director of Computing and Information Services for British Telecommunications plc (BT), had the novel idea that if the European telecommunications companies could work together in the field of information, they would be able to specify and procure - or even produce- generic Information Technology software. If they could do this, their development costs would be significantly reduced.
He decided to get people together and held a meeting in the English town of Reading in November 1988. Participants came from Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In 1988, telecommunications companies were largely State-owned.
Following that meeting, they all agreed to collaborate, so they created working groups to address various topics. They called their organisation "ISTEL92" - an abbreviation for Information Systems for Telecommunications '92 (an important year for the European Community) - and they worked together very successfully on an informal basis.
By late 1990, the group had changed their name to "ETIS" and the companies who were working together at that time decided that the group could function better if it was established in a more business-like way. So, they chose the form of a Dutch "Stichting", or Foundation, because that is a simple legal entity with few formalities. They made a business case, which showed that the cash benefit to the European telcos of extending the availability of Open Systems by just one year could pay for the cost of a small permanent organisation.
The first Management Board Meeting of ETIS took place in Budapest on the June 12th, 1991.
There have been many changes since then, but the fundamental ideas of working together and sharing ideas, experience and intellectual capital have stood the test of time, and ETIS remains a unique global organisation