Modern Computing in Iran: History
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Iran’s modern computing history can be divided into four distinct periods: (1) Computers were first introduced to Iran in 1962. As a result, the introduction of computers in Iran occurred approximately ten years after introducing computers in developed countries. (2) Computer development, Iran’s computer development era began in 1971 and lasted until 1981. This path was followed by a lot of competition to buy hardware, introduce massive software systems, recruit more manpower, and follow rigorous programs based on the country’s technological realities. (3) Computer revisit: As a result of the Islamic Revolution, improvements and innovations in computers occurred, and a series of general reviews were conducted until 1980. (4) Technological maturity and growth in Iran: Following the reopening of universities in 1983, the next stage of computer development began, with software and hardware becoming widely available. The Persian language and script processing is among this century’s most important works.

  • history
  • computing
  • Iran
  • Achaemenid Empire
  • Persia

1. The Appearance of Modern Computers in Iran

Iranians started to use computers in activities shortly after they became common in Western countries. In 1962, the first computer from IBM was imported to Iran. The first imported computers in Iran were mainly IBM 1400 and IBM 1620. These machines were used to process statistical data and various ancillary equipment. Despite their slowness, they were used in government for a long time and were purchased by private institutions. Iran National Oil Company installed the first applicable computer (IBM-1620) at the beginning of 1962 to keep track of oil production. The first computer was administrative and pre-packed with administrative software (box computing). The second and third computers were established in 1963. The Iranian software sector had deep roots in mainframe computers during these years. Because Iranian enterprises primarily served domestic market demands, they were mostly unaware of major software industry advancements [1]. Although the assistant secretary’s office for information services in plan and budget organization attempted to manage computer use development, the relevant budget increased radically without increasing productivity.

2. The Development of Computers

Iran had more than 100 computers installed by 1972, including two IBM/370 machines. Imports of computers totaled USD 6.5 million in that year. Until 1974, the utilization of computers in Iran was very limited. However, Iran had approximately 600 computers by 1977, with thirty IBM 370s among them. In 1978, over 100 businesses leased mainframe computers and accessories to government and commercial offices. Major Western, generally American, computer corporations such as IBM and Electronic Data Systems produced most of the hardware. The software was also primarily imported from the United States. According to official data, approximately USD 30 million worth of computer equipment was imported in 1978, roughly two-thirds of which came from the United States. This ratio is probably understated, as computers were typically not reported separately but rather as part of larger projects with large budgets for staff, support services, features, supplies, and training. In 1978–1979, for example, the Electronic Data Systems contract to computerize the Persian social-security system cost USD 20.5 million for fourteen months [2]. Computer imports in Iran dropped to 52.3 million in 1979. In both government and private offices, the need for computers has grown. The computer industry, on the other hand, grew again. Rather than renting, most of the new computers were bought. In 1979, the Iran supreme council on information was formed studied governmental computer requirements and applications to plan and support all computer-related activities and study the country’s management-information needs.
In the 1980s, the increasing availability of low-cost personal computers and Persian word-processing software fueled a massive increase in the import of computer components assembled in Iran. Payroll records, billing, accounting, banking, personnel records, college examinations, and military applications are all common uses for these computers. Controlling power distribution, scientific calculations, oil drilling and refining, factory production control, computer-aided design and manufacturing, and databases are all examples of industrial applications. The sciences and higher education ministry is computerizing university library catalogs. Computer applications in the humanities have included computerized concordances and various Persian texts produced by the linguistic academy [3].

3. Persian Computer

Iran’s computer manufacturing industries produced the first domestically produced Persian computer hardware in 1975–1978, which consisted of terminals. Mini- and microcomputers were also built in laboratories at several technical colleges and industrial training institutes. The M-1 minicomputer, for example, was built at the college of computer programming and application in 1980. The Institute for Research first introduced a microcomputer in Communications in 1984 and was later mass produced. Some electronics companies are mass-producing microcomputers and peripheral devices [4].
The incompatibility of the Iranian alphabet with hardware and software designed for the Roman alphabet was a major driving force behind the development of the Iranian computer industry. Special software is required to display and process Persian text on a terminal. For mainframe applications, Persian software had already begun to be used. The first microcomputer software was created in the West, primarily in the United States, for business and academic purposes and was then exported to or copied in Iran. Persian-text software had been developed and was being sold in Iran by 1991 [5].

4. The Growth of Local Computing Systems

The mainframe sector remained stagnant until 1985, when the personal computer arrived in Iran, spawning a new industry. On the other hand, the industry remained largely isolated from cutting-edge developments in major global information technology centers [6]. The industry is still in its infancy, with few project management skills when it comes to application development. Iran saw gradual attempts to liberalize and open up specific sectors of the economy, particularly Information Communication Technology (ICT), in the late 1990s. Part of the reason for this liberalization and focus on ICT is that the country has realized it needs to diversify its revenue streams away from oil. Iran’s economy is based on oil and gas, accounting for more than 80% of the country’s export earnings. Second, some other countries have recognized the need to reap some of the benefits of developments in the “network society.” The polarization of conservatives and reformists in government due to this liberalization drive has created tension and uncertainty about the government’s course [7][8].

5. Internet

In 1993, Iran was the second country in the Middle East to be connected to the Internet. In 1989, the Research Center for Theoretical Physics in Iran became the first computer in Iran to be connected to the Internet. The first Iranian website was launched in Iran a year later, in 1990. The Center for Theoretical Physics and Mathematics Research introduced the Internet to Iran, which is now known as the Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences [9].

5.1. First Website and First ISP

In 1992, a small number of universities in Iran, including the Sharif University of Technology and the University of Guilan, used the Center for Theoretical Physics and Mathematics Research and the Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) protocol to link to the Internet and send an e-mail with the rest of the world. The Institute of Basic Sciences is currently the only official source for registering the national “ir” domain. Additionally, the Hamshahri newspaper, which is the first official Iranian newspaper on the web, was published on the Internet. Neda Rayane became the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) after connecting to the Internet through the Canadian satellite Code Vision (Cad Vision). The Islamic Consultative Assembly approved establishing a data communications company under the umbrella of the Iran Telecommunication Company in 1995, giving the company sole responsibility for producing data services in Iran [10].

5.2. The Internet Penetration

In the case of the Internet, the first Bitnet network was established in Iran in 1989. In 1993, the public Internet started working. Then, satellite Internet connection with a speed of 128 and then 512 Kbps was provided. In 2004, ISPs started operating in Iran. In 2005, the first comprehensive center for applied services in rural information and communication technology was established. Then, the headquarters for organizing Iranian Internet sites started working. In 2007, the Internet penetration rate in Iran reached approximately 34.9. In 2007, Internet services were provided on mobile phones. In 2012, the first stage of the national Internet started working. The Internet penetration rate in Iran reached more than 94% [11].

6. Software

In the accounting area, the first accounting software was written in 1989, which had a four-column trial balance. The size of this free software was approximately 1.09 MB, and it could only be placed on a floppy disk. This software was prevalent for approximately 4 years and was used by various companies, individuals, and organizations. Currently, many kinds of accounting software are released and used in Iran. Later, other individuals and legal entities entered the field of accounting software products and introduced new accounting software to the market under the Disk Operating System (DOS) and Windows operating systems. Since then, many accounting software packages have entered the market, each of which, in turn, has advantages and disadvantages and has gained customers in the labor market. Among all this accounting software, Parmis integrated accounting and financial software entered the market for the first time in 2001. From the very beginning, it was able to gain a good position in the accounting software market among its competitors and respond well to the needs of its users. Currently, numerous local companies are working in this domain by developing mobile, Android, IOS, accounting, financial, human resource management, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and many other types of software and systems [12].

7. Hardware

Many companies in Iran now produce or assemble numerous related computer equipment such as chips, motherboards, electronic devices, monitors, printers, smartphones, and power supplies. Some of them are reviewed in this section. The CloniZER Alpha, a full-featured desktop PC with an integrated 15” diagonal TFT LCD, an Intel Pentium 4 processor, 80 Gig HD, and 512 MB RAM, was unveiled in February 17, 2004, in Tehran. The product gives users the ultimate desktop computing experience, allowing them to access information, communicate, and entertain themselves quickly and easily. It’s made to work in offices, kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms. You could check your e-mails and faxes and watch your favorite TV shows. Although the built-in printer and scanner allow you to print and scan e-mails and faxes. The CloniZER General Self Administration (GSAM) 2007 bundled program has specific features meant to improve your digital life experience in a very short period with a learning curve as simple as you have never seen before. Voice command technology, Text to Speech (TTS) ability, and easy-to-use graphical icons are other features of this system. The CloniZER spell checker was also another service based on this system [13].

8. Cloud Computing, IoT, and New Computing Platforms

Cloud computing has little impact on Iran under the present circumstances. Iran’s adoption of cloud computing is slower than that of the rest of the world. Iran has a small number of companies providing cloud services. In terms of the state of cloud computing in Iran, even though there are no reliable statistics on the subject, it can be said that, although cloud computing is occasionally used in consumer applications, the technology has not progressed very far in Iran. No proper infrastructure has been developed. However, the country is seeing many data centers installed, and almost every company has moved to one. As a result, there are a lot of infrastructure and data centers, but there is no serious commonality between them, and their use has not been widespread. On the other hand, cloud computing can help create a shared space and prevent currency outflows from the country [14].
In Iran, the growth of IoT startups and creative businesses has become critical. IoT has become a feasible solution to complex problems thanks to the entrance of knowledge-based companies into the supply of cutting-edge technology. The ICT has been active in conducting comprehensive research to implement the infrastructure needed for the IoT. This research institute has conducted training workshops in IoT to broaden basic knowledge. With the launch of the NB-IoT network, MTN-Irancell, the second cell phone operator in Iran, has provided a suitable infrastructure for developing the IoT to Iranian companies. Iran currently produces a variety of intelligent equipment for a variety of applications. Iranian companies can develop the necessary information and technology for IoT [15]. The development of a wide range of domestic smart equipment has prompted the IoT in Iran to move toward localization and the ability to customize goods and services. Mashhad city is regarded as among the forerunners in advanced technologies. Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city, has begun to take steps to make the city smarter. The implementation of the Mashhad city smart card project (I card) has shown that the citizens and officials of Mashhad are committed to making the city smart. Mashhad’s smart facilities and offices have prepared the city to join different intelligence fields. According to many statistics, a total of 155 private companies are involved in the field of IoT, with 63 companies in the area of communications, 50 companies in the provision of services and software, and 42 companies in the fields of hardware, sensors, maintenance, and processing. On the other hand, the companies Favamoj, Sikas, Parsnet, and MagFa can be considered activists in this area [16].

This entry is adapted from the peer-reviewed paper 10.3390/technologies10040094


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