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This article describes a case of institutional innovation - the development of a new activity among established scientific disciplines. The official recognition of computer science in the French research and educational organizations met many obstacles, at least until the mid-1970s, although research and teaching had been carried on in this field for 20 years. In the CNRS, informatics emerged as a sub-discipline of applied mathematics and fluid mechanics, then of mathematics, before a specific assessment committee was created in 1976 for computer sciences and automation. In the university system, a subcommittee was established in 1972 and became a full committee in 1982; at that time, computer activities had already penetrated the secondary schools.