Translated from: Manden der skabte RC. Copenhagen: Politiken, 1971 March 25.
Niels Ivar Bech has been made to resign as the director of A/S Regnecentralen--to one who for a number of years has felt like a part of that concern this message in today's newspaper is a shock. But that is impossible! Regnecentralen, which in its enormous growth beyond the Danish borders, in its year by year increasing turnover, but--more than anything--in the unique zest and collaborative atmosphere of its staff--this concern which in its style and idea has been totally an expression of Niels Ivar Bech, how can it allow itself to lose him? Who is it that allows this to happen?
True enough, the field of Regnecentralen, the development and operation of computers, is difficult and to an unusual degree dominated by tough, worldwide competition. True also that Niels Ivar Bech's visions have created difficulties.
It lies close at hand to look back to the years around 1962. At this time Niels Ivar Bech had a vision of a powerful, direct collaboration of Regnecentralen and the two Universities in Copenhagen and Aarhus and Danmarks Tekniske Universitet. The proposal was that Regnecentralen should place and run computers at each of these three institutions.
The idea was to establish the closest possible collaboration and contact between Regnecentralen, which at that time was an institution under The Academy of Technical Sciences, and the three public institutions of education, as stimulus and inspiration to all four parties and to the Danish society. In short, the idea that 7 to 8 years later became part of the declared policy of the government.
But at that time this idea was unheard of. The civil servants in the Ministry of Education would not dare to get involved in such a manner with an independent institution like Regnecentralen. Strangely enough such caution had no weight when the American giant concern IBM made a similar offer. As a result, the government accepted IBM's offer, and the Northern European University Computation Centre at Danmarks Tekniske Universitet was set up. At the same time the plan of a collaboration with Regnecentralen was dropped.
But Niels Ivar Bech had believed in his vision. He had felt convinced that a so obviously constructive idea would come through--and he had geared the activity of Regnecentralen to fulfil the plan. When then the plan was dropped, Regnecentralen had to pay the bill.
Regnecentralen survived this blow, reorganized as a corporation. But the forward drive was impaired, the activity at the foremost front during a decisive period had to be held back. In spite of this Regnecentralen has again during the most recent years been growing at a rapid pace.
But why isn't Niels Ivar Bech there any more? Is it because he has visions? Because he believes in them and is able to carry his collaborators along so to have them do things they did not themselves know were possible? Is it because with his unique tact and sympathy he has been able to have everyone unfold their talents in such a manner that those who have experienced it will look back at it as to a paradise lost? Is it because as a leader of men he is a genius?
It is rough luck on Niels Ivar Bech--but still more rough luck on his creation, Regnecentralen.