Société d’Applications Générale d’Electricité et de Mécanique (Sagem)
In 1925, Marcel Môme created the Société d’Applications Générale d’Electricité et de Mécanique (Sagem), whose initial business was mainly mechanical engineering. Sagem quickly diversified its business, for instance by making precision equipment for the French navy. The Société d’Applications Téléphoniques was created in 1932 and taken over by Sagem in 1939, as the Société Anonyme de Télécommunications (SAT), making it a major player in telephony and telecom business.
In the early 60’, SAT designed the world’s first infrared guidance system for an air-to-air misile. The first inertial reference unit in France, produced by Sagem, was used on a Nord 2501 aircraft deployed at the Brétigny Flight Test Center. It also supplied inertial guidance systems for the ballistic missiles in France’s nuclear deterrent force, and periscope for France’s missile-launching nuclear submarines. The new Diamant A launcher was guided by a Sagem inertial guidance unit for its first launch in 1965, sending the first French satellite into orbit. Sagem also supplied navigation systems for commercial jetliners, such as the Airbus A300. Sagem was the European leader in inertial navigation systems.
In collaboration with ESD (Serge Dassault Electronics) for the computer part, by 1985 SAGEM had developed operational magnetic bubble memory boards for spacecraft. It is the COPRA project: self-reconfiguring parallel-architecture computer, which was developed from the concept of "fault tolerance computer." This represents a 97-percent probability of correct operation for a 7-year mission in the case of a computer placed aboard a satellite. COPRA could also be used to pilot aircraft and ships, and to monitor nuclear power plants or offshore drilling platforms. It has a memory capacity of 128 K, expandable to 1 MB.
SAT logged a world first in the 1980s: a switched fiber-optic triple-play network, providing subscribers with a single connection for a complete range of services: telephone, television and Minitel (an early online service). Less than ten years later, the company would provide the set-top boxes for Canal+, France’s first pay TV station. In 1993 Sagem acquired the Ameriacan company Morpho, a specialist in fingerprint-based biometric recognition systems. Sagem Sécurité was the world leader in this market. In 1996 Sagem invented a consumer fax machine, the “Phonefax”, and also created the first French GSM mobile phone and the first satellite TV set-top box.
With close to twenty years of experience in fighter upgrade, in collaboration with the Air forces of various countries, SAGEM developed and validated an integrated modular avionics concept meeting a wide range of operational requirements of the armed forces and which can be easily installed in different older or recent operating platforms.
It took place naturally through an industrial approach in order to meet the operational performance requirements while minimizing the access cost to technology required to secure the performance. As a result of this approach, SAGEM defined a system core: the Multifunction Navigation and Attack System (MNAS) capable of gathering all the management and control functions of avionics.
In 2000, Sagem was chosen by French defense procurement agency DGA to develop and produce the AASM modular air-to-ground weapon system. JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) by The Boeing Company, Paveway by Raytheon and AASM by Sagem of France are a couple of widely procured guided munitions.
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