The History of the Group

Innovation: our core business for almost a century

The history of the Dassault Group for almost a century can be summarized in a single word: Innovation. Beginning in 1914, at the beginning of the First World War, the 22-year old Marcel Bloch had the firm conviction that aeronautics would be an industry of the future. With Henry Potez, a fellow student at the French aviation and mechanics school (Ecole supérieure d'aéronautique et de construction mécanique), he designed a new propeller called the “Éclair”, 50 of which were subsequently ordered by the French Army. The part was built in wood by a furniture maker in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine in Paris. The Eclair equipped several French aircraft and in 1917 was ranked third-best part (out of 253) by an Inspection Committee. This was to be the opening chapter in the life of Marcel Bloch as an innovative aviation engineer and entrepreneur


Over the years, Marcel Dassault continuously challenged conventional wisdom, establishing himself as one of the great breakthrough contributors in the aviation industry. His first major success was in 1931, with the MB 120 triple motor 10-passenger transport plane. In the wake of this achievement, Marcel Bloch decided to relocate to Boulogne (just outside Paris), setting up his design department and manufacturing facilities in an abandoned garage, just as IT pioneers would launch start-ups many years later. Numerous prototypes of civil aircraft (MB 220) and military planes were produced in this improvised facility. 

In January 1935, Marcel Bloch’s companies began to produce the M 200 and MB 210 bombers. Beyond technology, Marcel Bloch was also an innovator in labor relations. As early as 1935, he granted his employees a week of paid vacations. The following year, the Front Populaire government instituted two weeks of annual leave, prompting Marcel Bloch to grant three weeks to his employees. 


The years just prior to the Second World War were marked by numerous nationalizations and political crises. During the War, Marcel Bloch and his family were deprived of their property. In 1944, he was deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp as a political hostage and refused to collaborate with the Nazi regime, even when threatened to be hanged. Throughout these years, he continued to follow developments in aviation. On 11th April 1945, the Buchenwald camp was liberated. Marcel Bloch and his fellow inmates were freed. 

In 1946, Marcel Bloch changed his name to Bloch-Dassault and to Dassault in 1949, in homage to his brother’s (General Darius Paul Bloch) resistance pseudonym “Char d'assaut” (Assault tank). Marcel Dassault’s companies then began to produce France’s first jets: Ouragan (1949), Mystère II (1952), Mystère IV (1954), Super-Mystère B-2 (1955), Mirage III (1956), Mirage IV (1959) which equipped the French nuclear forces, and the first business jet, the Mystère-Falcon (1963). An electronic division was created in 1954 to develop radars. 

Marcel Dassault then produced the Alpha Jet (1973) with the German company Dornier, a training plane which equipped the Patrouille de France; the Jaguar with British Aircraft Corporation; the Mirage 2000 (1978); the Mercure passenger plane (1973); the Rafale and new versions of the Falcon. In 1990, the company was renamed Dassault Aviation and became the world leader in private jets. 

Today, Dassault Aviation offers its customers a wide range of expertise, enhanced by the innovative technological links between its civilian and military activities. By virtue of this unique experience, the company has developed relevant and innovative cooperative programs, applicable to all areas of the aeronautics industry.


Continuing its work as an innovative company, the Dassault Group has extended its activities over the last 50 years to new areas of technology, including industrial IT systems and communication.
Since its creation in 1981, Dassault Systèmes has revolutionized the design and development of industrial products. 35 years ago, the company began to use 3D technology to design complex forms and create the first digital models. Today, Dassault Systèmes is anticipating on the industrial processes of the future, offering a 3D perspective on the entire lifecycle of a product, from its initial design to maintenance, via production and implementation. 

Beyond Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Dassault Systèmes’ collaborative solutions make it possible to improve the real world through the use of virtual environments. Bernard Charlès, Dassault Systèmes Managing Director, summarizes the vision of the Group, constantly renewed for nearly a century. “We have evolved the V6 platform with our customers over the last few years. The addition of intelligent information search-based technologies, social innovation capabilities and realistic 3D virtual experiences made us ready to pioneer a new technological wave: a 3D EXPERIENCE Platform to serve the social enterprise of the 21st century. I am convinced that within this century, people will invent and innovate more than ever before. We must provide businesses and people with holistic 3D experiences to imagine sustainable innovations capable of harmonizing products, nature and life.”

Innovation continues to drive the Dassault Group, perpetuating the determination to anticipate on the future and to create the breakthrough developments to stay at the forefront of technology.