Mr. Lal Chandranath

Mr. Lal Chandranath is a former Managing Director of DMS Electronics Ltd and DMS Software Technologies. He was a member of the founder team of Data Management Systems Ltd (DMS) in 1978 and served as a Director until June 2017. He was also a founding team member of DMS Electronics Ltd in 1981, where he served as a Director until June 2017. Later in 2014, Mr. Chandranath was made Director/ General Manager of DMS Software Technologies (Pvt) Limited and he was instrumental in negotiating business agreements with Oracle Corporation covering many segments allowing for rapid growth. Mr. Chandranath has spent over 40 years in the ICT industry and is experienced in ICT areas such as Engineering, Customer Support, Software Development, Sales and Marketing, and Management and Leadership.

Mr. Chandranath was also a Council Member of the Council for Information Technology (CINTEC) – from 1992-1996 & from 1999-2000 – the former Government apex body on ICT and the predecessor to the ICT Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka. Mr. Chandranath was the Chairman of the National Informatics Olympiad Committee of CINTEC. He has also been a member and the President of the Computer Society of Sri Lanka. He has trained Sri Lankan student teams participating in Asian and international software competitions resulting in gold, silver and bronze medals for Sri Lanka.

Mr. Chandranath was educated at Kingswood College, Kandy and at the University of Peradeniya from where he was awarded a BSc (Hons) Degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. He has also followed a Postgraduate program in General Management at the Asian Institute of Management Philippines.

Lal Chandranath started his journey in the ICT field when using the IBM 1130 computer at the University of Peradeniya. His tenure at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya, he says, was a magical time. It was a time of great learning. He had exceptional lecturers. They gave Lal a good foundation in electrical engineering and the area that Lal wanted to pursue was electrical and electronics engineering. He learnt electronics in the final two years at the University. He also followed a fundamental course in computer programming in FORTRAN and Pascal. The students learnt of signal systems and communications and statistical signal theory that helped them greatly in understanding new areas – these were the early days of FM communications. Lal Chandranath realized that computers would ultimately change human destiny and he lived to see that happen.   

Lal Chandranath graduated in 1977 and joined a start-up Company, Data Management Systems Ltd (which later became well-known as DMS) in 1978. The CEO was Mr. Ruvan Ratnatunga and there were two other engineering graduates, Mr. Ramathas and Mr. Paramaguru. Mr. Lal Chandranath was the fourth employee. DMS sold the first Wang computers to tea Companies in Sri Lanka. During this period IBM was selling mainframe computers and teaching people IT, but it was DMS that developed a complete package for the tea industry and sold it with the computer as a turn-key solution. This was a great stride forward in the IT industry. DMS was path-breaking.

Mr. Lal Chandranath reminisces that DMS was based on extremely strong values and decided never to do anything untoward to obtain projects. The team wanted DMS to be a technology Company, they wanted it to shine in technology, the team had a strong work ethic and everyone worked hard. DMs had an early association with a Company called Wang Laboratories Incorporated at Massachusetts, where they were developing the first word processors.

Computers were mostly used for computations at that time, but Dr. Wang realized that if computers could be used for word processing and text processing, then it would change the way in which computers were used. So, Wang Labs developed a computer system called the Office Information System (OIS) which could help in word processing.

At that time there were mini computers. A milestone was achieved when DMS sold a Wang mini computer system to the National Institute of Business Management (NIBM). Dr. Bill Smythe of Canada was the Consultant for NIBM. Many were trained at NIBM on IT and Computers. Mr. Lal Chandranath states that they developed the curriculum and the training material. Based on this curriculum, DMS Electronics later developed curricula for the Universities of Colombo, Peradeniya, Jaffna and for the Open University.

In 1981, there were single chip micro-processors available from Intel, and even before that the Company Mostec built 6502 microprocessors which went into Apple and Commodore computers. Thereafter, DMS Electronics was established and it focused on microcomputers. Mr. Lal Chandranath was Managing Director. This eventually became a large Company and even at present the Company is well-known as systems integrators. They brought in Commodore computers and the Commodore PET was widely used in schools and Universities. Subsequently, the Commodore 64 which was inexpensive and affordable was used in homes.

Around 1983/1984, DMS Electronics, with guidance from Wang Labs commenced developing a Sinhala word processor and thereafter a Tamil word processor which worked on their OIS system. This system was based on what was termed the “Polyglot text editor” that Wang had developed for the OIS. They were to launch it in 1985, but IT history was created with the first IT Intellectual Property case, when Mr. A.K. Kumarasena of Metropolitan Ltd sued stating that this invention was originally his. This was a hard period, with nearly 1 ½ years spent in Courts and DMS eventually lost interest and market traction for the product. The case was settled out of Courts. Later DMS Electronic developed Sinhala and Tamil word processors using graphic cards. This enabled all three levels in  Sinhala characters with modifiers, with ispilla and papilla to be displayed correctly.

Thereafter, DMS Electronics with the Company Square D brought in programmable logic controllers which they used for a project on tyre curing at the Tyre Corporation through which they replaced pneumatics with electronics. DMS Electronics later worked with Memorex Telex, a leading airline software Company, on a systems integration project to install a common user terminal equipment (CUTE) at Sri Lankan Airlines., connecting over 150 devices. In 2000, they replaced the mainframe switch at Sampath Bank with a Wintel processor-based ATM transaction switch.

Mr. Lal Chandranath states that DMS overall, has been successful; he states that Mr. Ruvan Ratnatunga, its founder is a most successful entrepreneur. DMS Software Technologies partnered with Oracle in 1991, specialized in Oracle based solutions and made available relational database technology to Sri Lanka. Later, DMS Garment Technologies was created and this Company brought in many new technologies which helped the garment industry. Overall, DMS has had a tremendous impact on the IT industry in Sri Lanka. Most of all, DMS had a wonderful culture, which developed people. Those who were at DMS went out and created great careers for themselves. Lal Chandranath reminisces that he was in a journey which helped in creating a “new look” for the IT industry. “Things could have been better” he says “but it could have been worse”, and DMS has performed reasonably well.

Mr. Chandranath has been a member of the Computer Society of Sri Lanka since the mid-eighties. He was the President of CSSL for the periods 1999/2000 and 2000/2001. He was persuaded by Mr. Yasa Karunaratne to undertake the training of teams comprising Sri Lankan students for software competitions under the South East Asia Regional Computer Confederation (SEARCC). Mr. Lal Chandranath ran this initiative from 1989 to 1994. Each year the performance of the Sri Lankan teams improved. Sri Lanka was able to win this competition among regional teams by 1994.

In 1992, Prof. V.K. Samaranayake who was the Chairman of the Computer and Information Technology Council of Sri Lanka (CINTEC) wanted Sri Lanka to participate in software competitions of the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). Late one evening, Prof. Samaranayake, Mr. Lal Chandranath and Mr. Palitha Rodrigo from DMS Software Technologies met in the Chairman’s office at CINTEC and phoned Berlin (it was West Berlin then) to ascertain whether Sri Lanka could participate in the IOI competitions. When the reply was affirmative, Mr. Lal Chandranath and Mr. Palitha Rodrigo commenced training Sri Lankan students for the IOI software competitions. Mr. Chandranath was the Chairman of the National Informatics Olympiad Committee of CINTEC and led teams that participated in IOI competitions from 1992 to 1996. In 1994 team member Sifaan Zavahir won a Silver medal for Sri Lanka and in 1995 Sri Lanka won a gold medal and a silver medal. Mr. Chandranath states that it has been proved beyond doubt that IT was a field in which Sri Lanka could excel, and he is pleased of these achievements.