Semi-conductors, microprocessors and information technology are the future technologies. Since the 1970s, electronics companies all over Europe invest in the development of office computers and computers for special applications – with varying success. In the GDR, VEB Kombinat Robotron is the most important manufacturer of EDP devices. In 1982, it releases its 8-bit office computer A5120. The modified version USAR is produced in small quantities for use in telephone exchange technology. The final production is assigned to the Fernmeldewerk Arnstadt that is later renamed VEB Nachrichtenelektronik „Ernst Thälmann“.
1986 Big order from the Federal Armed Forces
The second comprehensive radio retrofitting of the Federal Armed Forces since the 1960s has started. Back then, SEL supplied field telephones and SEM radio equipment, and now again convinces with its offer. The troops receive their handheld radio SEM 52S. Later, the SEM 93 is the first VHF data radio of the SEM 70/80/90 radio series. Within the next 30 years, the SEL factories produce a total of 80,000 devices – almost half of them is still in use today.
1987 Alcatel takes over
In the mid 1980s, ITT plans to divest itself of a large part of its European ventures. SEL is considered the best part of the group. Several takeover bids are rejected. In 1986, the divestment was agreed with the French CGE, and at the turn of the year, SEL becomes part of the CGE telecommunications subsidiary Alcatel. The new owner guides the subsidiary back to its core competences in the field of communications engineering. The unprofitable consumer electronics area in Pforzheim and other business areas are sold or closed down.
1989 A European group
The pressure aimed at concentration persists on the market. Thomson-CSF compensates the declining defence activities in France by external growth abroad. In 1989, Philips takes over the defence electronics division, as the Dutch company plans to focus on consumer business in future. So, HSA in Hengelo also switches to the French group. In the mid 1990s, Thomson-CSF generates one quarter of its total turnover with its subsidiaries outside France.
1989 Digitalisation on rail
In 1983, German Federal Railways decided to promote the development of electronic interlocking (ESTW). SEL is involved in the project from the very beginning. In 1989, the first ESTW by SEL is handed over for the test phase in the Lower Bavarian Neufahrn, and goes into full operation the following year. Hamburg-Eidelstedt, Husum und Itzehoe follow. The L90 interlocking system was also very successful in term of export.