BENGALURU : Each time Krishnan Narayanan asks someone in the tech sector about where they think India’s IT journey began, he’s surprised at the answer they give. “People in Bengaluru always think it began in 1990 with the setting up of Wipro and Infosys. But that’s not true. TCS has been there since the late ’50s and India got its first computer in 1955,” he says.
This led Narayanan and N Dayasindhu, who both worked in the research arm of Infosys earlier, to set up itihaasa Research and Digital, and work on a mobile app that chronicles the history of Indian IT. Visitors to Bangalore Literature Festival will also be able to explore the app during the festival on Nov 9 and 10.
“We wanted to give back to the field we came from,” says Narayanan, the co-founder and president of the not-for-profit company. Agrees Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder, Infosys, and founder and chairman, itihaasa, saying, “After I stepped down from Infosys, I wanted to document the growth of the IT Industry in India through the voices of the leaders who made it happen.”
The mobile app –available for free on Android and iOS platforms – has 1,000 videos, photographs and articles related to the history of the field, including interviews with industrialists N R Narayana Murthy and Azim Premji, academicians Rajaraman and H N Mahabala, and former NASSCOM president Kiran Karnik.
Work began in 2015 and went on for one year, wherein Narayanan and Dayasindhu worked on acquiring data from public documents and conducted interviews. Since each video is 4-5 minutes long, it is easy to consume, says Dayasindhu. The app allows people to search for information through 15,000 tags. Explains co-founder and CEO Dayasindhu, “Viewers can see the interconnectedness between everything. For instance, one can start with the time period when something took place, and discover the people associated with that, the places or technical terms related to it, and so on.”
Around 190 nuggets are related to Bengaluru alone. The app includes information related to how Prof Vincent Rideout, a visiting faculty at the IISc, was assisted by V Rajaraman in building an analogue computer and how, in 1995, IIM Bangalore was one of the first educational institutions (outside of IITs and IISc) to get internet access for its students, and individual email ids for its faculty and students.