AN IT SPECIALIST, A SPORTSMAN, A MANAGER

WITOLD IWAŃCZAK

The word ‘Information technology’, instead of the word: Electronic Calculation Technology, appeared in our dictionary thanks to prof. Andrzej Targowski

In Polish Information technology, in the beginning of the 70s of XX century everything was new and his work, among the others: setting up Electronic Calculation Technology Plant, elaborating a concept of the National Information Technology System and a computer network Infostrada, piloting systems PESEL, MAGISTER, ŚWIATOWID, WEKTOR, INFONET, etc.

From 1980 prof. Targowski lives in the United States. He is a professor of Information Technology At the Western Michigan University. He published about 40 books and a lot of articles. He writes in the USA, Canada, England, Lithuania and in Poland, on issues connected with Information Technology, politics, history, and civilization. He was a chairperson of the World Council of Studies on Polish Diaspora (2001-07), a member of a Council of Directors of the Congress of American Polish Diaspora and a chairperson of a Committee of Planning the North-American Centre for Polish Issues – STUDIUM. He also initiated establishing a Council of Polish-American Engineers in Northern America.

Painful childhood

Andrzej Targowski was born on 9 October 1937 in Warsaw as a son of Stanisław and Halina from the Krzyżanowska family. His father was a lawyer and a social and political activist. He had a function of, among the others, a deputy of a commander of the Polish Military Organization in Częstochowa, a diplomat in Yugoslavia, Romania, Greece and France. His mum was 14 younger than his father and came from a landowners family from Podole. Andrzej was only 3 years old when on 4 December 1940 the Gestapo arrested his father, who was a member of a strict Council of the Main Command of the Polish Military Organization of the Warsaw District. After many hearings and stays in concentration camps, Stanisław Targowski was sentenced to death penalty through hanging. The public execution took place on 21 March 1945, 2 days before the camp liberation. Andrzej was left with mum and a carer Eugenia Stępień. Two Jewish doctors were hiding in their flat for some time. There was also a contact point of the National Army there. Another shock appeared during the Warsaw Uprising, when the Germans decided to destroy their house situated vis-à-vis the Nazis bunker (the corner of Kazimierzowska Street and Madalinski Street in Mokotów) and also get rid of inhabitants, that is, shooting them. They used a Russian division RONA for in German uniforms this purpose. His mum was seriously wounded and Andrzej was saved by a carer Gienia, by covering him with her body; she was killed herself. They miraculously got to the Sisters of the Immaculate who took care of the wounded boy and took his mother to hospital. They met together again in May 1945 in Szymanów, at the Sisters of the Immaculate Convent, which had been founded by a cousin of Andrzej’s mother – blessed Maria Darowska. The boy received the First Communion there, in the presence of all sisters ( and in presence of the Superior sister) who called him the youngest Warsaw insurgent. Having returned from Warsaw, Targowski finished the primary school, and in 1954 he passed his secondary school leaving examination in the Secondary School named Tadeusz Reytan. In 2015 he co-founded a Society of Uprising Children 1944 and became its honourable chairperson.

Beginnings of Information Technology in Poland

In 1962 Andrzej Targowski graduated from the Warsaw Polytechnics – the Mechanics-Technology Department the Engineering - Economic Branch, today called industrial engineering – and he passed his first MA exam about MIS (Management Information System). After his participation in riots of the Warsaw Polytechnics students in October 1956, he lost his scholarship. As a student he was a co-author of the first national strategy of development of computer systems in Poland (KERM 400, 1961). Later he participated in many professional praxis in France, England, Austria and Belgium. In 1965 Targowski with his colleagues founded a magazine ‘Mathematical Machines’, renamed in 1971 into: ‘Information Technology’, and in 1969 at the Warsaw Polytechnics he passed his PhD exam about conditions of optimization of informative hierarchical systems. In 1966 he organized transporting the machine IBM 1440 to Poland, which was the first contract of the IBM company with the country from the so-called iron curtain. In the years 1965 – 71, as the general manager of the Warsaw company ZETO-ZOWAR, he cooperated in establishing a network of 50 computer ZETO centres in Poland. When, as a volunteer of NOT, he managed elaborating the second National Program of Information Technology Development for the years 1971-75, on 23 April 1970 he read out an essay during a meeting of the Science and Technology Committee, in which he suggested, among the others, replacing the term ‘ETO’ with the term ‘Information Technology’ from French language ‘L’informatique’. In 1971 he published a book ‘Information Technology – a key to welfare’ (PIW), thanks to which in 1971 ‘Information Technology was born in Poland’. In the years 1972-74 Targowski managed designing the nationwide system of population registry: Magister/PESEL. Next he elaborated a concept of Infostrada and the National Information System which promoted a free flow of information in the society. The communist authorities in Poland did not agree to it and Targowski started having serious troubles, among the others, in 1977 he was dismissed from the editorial office of ‘Information Technology’. At the end of August 1974 Andrzej Targowski left for abroad – to the USA for the first time (with his wife Alicja and son Stanisław). Till now his family has stayed inland, as typical hostages. The authorities hoped that Targowski would stay in the USA forever, but they were wrong. In the States he underwent a series of trainings for managers in educational centres of IBM and he was a visiting professor in Hamilton College. After his return to the country he buried his mum who had died on 15 November 1975. In January 1980 Targowski left for Mexico (through Polservice), and then in August 1980 for the USA where he was allowed for political asylum. Since then he was not able to return to Poland. Only after political system changes in 1990 he arrived in homeland with an American delegation which was helping in starting local self-governments.

Family and life on emigration

*In 1962 Andrzej Targowski got married to Alicja Kowalczyk. Repressions and problems with work which he faced in the 70s, caused a collapse of his marriage. In 1978 he got married again – with Irmina Dura-Kubas who was bringing up her daughter Agnieszka on her own. Still living in the country their son Jacek was born. They left for Mexico as a four-people family. The beginnings were difficult. Learning a language, working at various universities. His wife Irmina, a doctor, had to have her diploma recognized It was the reason why their home was divided into two ones for some time, which were distanced from each other by 1100 km. At that time their son Stanisław arrived to them, as he could not study in Poland because of the escape of his father from communist Poland. In 1985 Irmina and Andrzej contracted a sacramental marriage. When Irmina complete her residency, all of them moved to Kalamazoo again where they had arrived in the beginning and have been living till today. Irmina got work as an American GP, and Andrzej returned to the Western Michigan University, where later he received lifetime post of a professor. His son Stanisław graduated from Information Technology faculty and moved to Chicago with his wife where he is a manager in the Hewlett-Packard company. They have got three children: Julian, Marcel and Weronika. Their daughter Agnieszka graduated from geo-physics and left for MA studies in Paris. When she had cancer diagnosed, Hodgkin, she was brought to the United States by parents. She had operations, chemio-therapy and long convalescence there, but she recovered. She returned to France and later arrived in Poland, where she runs her own company. She perfectly knows a few languages, among the others, Chinese. The youngest son of the Targowscy family – Jacek 20 March 1991 had an accident, resulting in his broken backbone. He has been on a wheelchair till today. He is active physically, dives, travels all over the world. He brings his acquaintances to Poland to show them his second homeland. He became an attorney and works in a federal court.

In the States prof. Targowski, besides his scientific work, is also famous as a manager of innovative IT projects. In the 90s he was the first chairman of the Managers’ Council, managing the realization of the first ‘digital city’ in the USA, that is a digital city which was Kalamazoo (telicity). His ideas, still born in Poland, were undertaken in the States. One of them was the concept of ‘inforstrada’ – a system of sending information among computers in the scale of the country. It was taken over and launched by Al Gore, a young congressman at that time, the later vice-president of the USA, calling it ‘information superhighway’. This idea became a synonym for the so-called new economy.

Activity and hobby

Because on emigration Andrzej Targowski was engaged in the issues of Poland, by publishing in newspapers for Polish diaspora and working in radio Free Europe and Voice of America, he drew attention of special services of communist Poland to himself. In 1986 he was sentenced to death penalty, about which he got to know from prof. Thomas Carey a few years later. Two year later, on 28 November 1988, when he was going back home, his car was rammed by another big car. According to FBI, it was an assassination. He survived thanks to a nurse Judy Miklaszewski, who was passing by him and pulled him out of the car on fire. As a result of the accident one person was killed and the professor was taken to hospital with concussion and 7 broken ribs. The driver who had crashed into him, was waiting in a nearby bar for a suitable signal.

Prof. Targowski has always been active physically. In his youth he went skiing, played ping-pong and later tennis, which became his hobby. In 1950 he became a champion of juniors of Warsaw in singles and doubles with Andrzej Lech. Also with Lech in 1979 they achieved the title of international champions of Poland as oldboys in doubles in Sopot. He was even a chairperson of the Polish Tennis Union in the years 1971-1972, but resigned from the function as this job collided with his work. In America he also plays tennis. In 2003 in championship of the USA seniors in doubles in Arisona he took the 5th place and in 2011 he became a vice-champions of Michigan State in doubles.

In his life he follows the rule that he has an attitude towards Poland like towards his mother, and to the United States like to his wife.

AA

„Niedziela” 29/2016

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Lidia Dudkiewicz • Translation: Aneta Amrozik • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl