It all started in Umeå, as a spin-off from Umeå University, when two research students got an idea to save Sweden from the energy crisis that arose after the oil crisis of the 70s. This is how Lars Stenlund, founder and chairman of the board, describes how it happened when Vitec was started in May 1985:
- Hey, man, Olov said as we stood in line at Snabben, the lunch place at the University in Umeå, I’ve got an idea. Is that so, I thought, my mind mostly on which variation of beef stew was on the menu this fall day of 1984.
- Yeah, he continued. You can program, of course, and I can come up with the money for one of those new PCs! Then you can teach me programming, and at the same time maybe we can put together some program that somebody will want to buy.”
No sooner said than done. I needed a hobby aside from research and the same went for Olov. Pretty soon a beige Ericsson PC stood on my desktop at home and another the following week at Olov’s. We developed in Turbo Pascal – the world’s fastest development environment crammed into an inconceivable 39 kB on a floppy disk. The program we developed stemmed from Olov’s idea about property owners’ need for a better way to check on their energy consumption and the fact that modern tools were needed for this.
The mission was clear as day! By programming at the hobbyist level in Turbo Pascal, we’d save Sweden from the energy crisis that arose in the aftermath of the 1970’s oil crisis. Yep! The hobby project proceeded at turbo speed, and in the spring of 1985 there was interest out in the market to “do business” with us and, in fact, to buy the revolutionary system that we’d developed. Several screenshots were ready, though the functionality behind them was a little iffy. Most of the buttons you clicked on caused the data to freeze. But it looked nice – and surely you had to allow for some bugs and teething problems, right? In any case, we needed to start a company so that we could get out the program and save Sweden from the energy crisis.