You must have heard about J.R.D and Ratan Tata. But did you know Tata Consultancy Services’ co-founder, Faqir Chand Kohli, who breathed his last on 26 November this year, aged 96? From designing India’s first course on control systems to being in-charge of establishing IITs in Mumbai and Kanpur, FC Kohli has done it all. Let’s dive deeper into his pioneering role in TCS and the subsequent impact on the entire industry.
Crux of the Matter
Checkpoint 1: TIFR
FC Kohli introduced the use of digital computers for power system design and control, including the use of the CDC 3600 mainframe computer at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
Checkpoint 2: TEC
In 1969, he helped Tata Electric Company install a computer system to control the power lines between Mumbai and Pune, making it the 3rd utility company in the world to install it.
This was done to manage the power supply from multiple hydroelectric and thermal plants, controlling losses, ensuring continuity of supply etc. He utilized all tools including the basic analogue computers.
Implementing A Reliable System
By 1968, TEC had all the operations computerized via the Westinghouse Digital computer, which controlled hydroelectric and thermal plants of the Tatas, to hydel plant at Koyna. This way, Kohli made TEC one of the first in the world, to run their systems on a digital machine!
Checkpoint 3: General Manager @ TCS
- Bagged TCS’ first outside software project: the Inter-Branch Reconciliation System (IBRS) for the Central Bank of India.
- India’s first digital printing of telephone directory (200,000 subscribers in Mumbai) in 1971.
- First Digitization of the PAN card for the Income Tax department in 1976.
In 1974, Kohli made Tata’s joint venture with the world’s No. 2 computer company, Burrough, a reality. They converted a hospital information package from mainframe COBOL to small systems COBOL.
First Indian IT Company To Go Global
TCS became the first to obtain permission to set up an overseas unit in New York, all thanks to Kohli. In 1991, it became an ISO 9000 company and crossed the ₹100 crore mark with just 3,000 employees.
TCS grew from 10 consultants to 14,000 by the time he stepped down in the late 1990s and remained India’s largest private-sector employer, with over 453,000 of the world’s best-trained consultants across 46 countries, for a long time.
- As of 2020, India’s IT workforce accounts for 4.36 million employees. The United States accounts for two-thirds of India’s IT services exports.
- In April 2018, TCS became the first Indian IT company to reach $100 billion in market capitalisation, and the second Indian company ever after its market capitalization stood at ₹6,79,332.81 crores ($102.6 billion) on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
- The first software export zone, SEEPZ – the precursor to the modern-day IT park – was established in Mumbai in 1973. More than 80% of the country’s software exports were from SEEPZ in the 1980s.