Photo: Liborio Noval

"…Informatics will become a powerful scientific, economic, and even political force within the country" Fidel Castro


On April 18, 1970, Cuba's first computer, the CID 201, was presented. Five years earlier, a group of young engineers, physicists, and mathematicians at the University of Havana had taken on the challenge of designing and constructing the device, since any effort to acquire the needed components and parts abroad was frustrated by the U.S. government's blockade.

It was done, and behind the accomplishment was Comandante en Jefe,

de Fidel Castro, who with his clear vision of the future, understood early on the importance of promoting the development of informatics and the electronics industry in Cuba. Moreover, the effort allowed for use of this first computer model in such key areas of country's economy as the sugar industry and railway traffic control.

This was recalled yesterday, by Melchor Gil Morell, a member of the Cuban Union of Computer Technicians' National Council, during the International Informatics Convention and Fair, underway at the Havana International Conference Center and the Pabexo fairgrounds.

Given the outcome of this initial project, Fidel encouraged the work of Cuban experts and technicians, and by the 1970s, close to 90% of the country's computer capacity was based on national productions, he noted.

But more than production was needed, Gil Morell said, and Fidel understood the need to generalize knowledge and provide broad access to computers, leading to the establishment of the country's Computation and Electronics Youth Club, and another key project: the University of Computer Sciences (UCI), in 2002.

The UCI, in Fidel's words, was to be a new kind of educational institution, with a national scope, and responsibility for concrete tasks in the digitalization of Cuban society, with an emphasis on software. It was to become the driving force for Cuba's technological development, Gil Morell recalled.