It all started with the D-Unit

Do you know those stories about great companies that were founded in garages? Microsoft and Apple are famous examples - but SCHUHFRIED also has a similar story to tell.  

SCHUHFRIED GmbH- How it all began

It is the year 1959: Fidel Castro comes to power in Cuba, Alaska and Hawaii become federal states of the USA and the first episode of Asterix is published. Far away from all this, the then 18-year-old Gernot Schuhfried is entrusted with the new construction of the Kiel Determination Unit. This is a device that is primarily used to diagnose the performance of people in safety-relevant professions such as train drivers or bus drivers. Optical and acoustic signals are emitted, to which a reaction should be as error-free as possible. The content concept of the Kiel Determination Unit is good, but the technical solution is error-prone.

Even then, Gernot Schuhfried recognized the great potential of the Kieler Determination Unit. In the attic of a vine tavern in the 19th district in Vienna, he and a telecommunications technician friend worked on the device, which is still considered the root of SCHUHFRIED GmbH today, the Determination Unit, or D-Unit for short.

Similar to the Kiel Determination Unit, the D-Unit also records a person's ability to react under stress. In addition, however, even this first version already had different presentation speeds for the optical and acoustic signals, a freely selectable signal frequency and a differentiated recording of correct, delayed and incorrect reactions. The latter can still be found today in the digital version of the D-Unit, the Determination Test in the Vienna Test System. 

The technical evolution

The year 1972 is full of achievements - HP launches the first scientific calculator, the first episode of Star Trek is shown on German TV and the Determination Unit reaches its next stage of development.

The speed of the stimulus sequence no longer depends on a rigid algorithm, but can also be determined by the reaction speed of the subject. It thus adapts to the subject's performance and is thus dynamic. Moreover, the stimulus presentation and result output are no longer electromechanical but electronic, and the results can be conveniently printed out thanks to a specially developed printer. Even dedicated devices for group testing are finally available.

All these innovations lead to an unprecedented efficiency in psychological assessment. In contrast to conventional paper-pencil tests, a fast, automatic and accurate evaluation of individual responsiveness becomes possible for the first time.

Equipped with this experience, Gernot Schuhfried and his growing team now also develop other mechanical devices for recording psychological dimensions in the following years, such as the Reaction Unit, a tachistoscope, a device for measuring peripheral perception or the Motor Perfomance Series - a device to measure six different dimensions of motor skills. 

Revolution through synergy - the ART 90

Gernot Schuhfried recognized early on that the expensive electromechanical instruments could be replaced in the long term by less expensive computers.  As early as 1979, attempts were made to control and evaluate the D- Unit via computer. For reasons of test economy, it was also obvious to construct a universal test station that could capture as many psychological dimensions as possible. Together with the Austrian Road Safety Board, the ART 90 was developed.

The ART 90 combined monitor, keyboard, Determination Unit, Reaction Unit, Tachistoscope and the device for measuring peripheral perception in a single device. Questionnaires could also be processed effortlessly via a light pen directly on the screen or via a keypad. The entire test system was of considerable size, weighing 90 kg and costing as much as a mid-size car. The ART 90 was the standard instrument for traffic psychology in the 1980s and 1990s, but also found a wide range of applications in the clinical field.

From Hardware to Software: The Vienna Test System (VTS)

It’s 1986. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster takes hold, the Phantom of the Opera celebrates its world premiere and Boris Becker wins Wimbledon for the first time. In this year, SCHUHFRIED GmbH introduces the first Vienna Test System (VTS), in which the control and evaluation of the electromechanical devices functions for the first time in a software

Today, the VTS is considered the standard for digital assassement and enables the objective, reliable and valid recording of performance and personality dimensions. Digitization ensures fast as well as error-free result evaluation and enables convenient measurement of abilities that cannot be captured with paper-pencil tests, such as responsiveness and peripheral perception.

Even now, the VTS is moving with the times. Using interface interaction, it can communicate with other computer programs such as hospital software and applicant management systems, and there have also long been options for online testing in the browser.

Today, more than 13 million tests per year are performed worldwide with the VTS - for neuropsychological and clinical questions, personnel selection, driving aptitude, in high-performance sports and in research.

Thus, a small two-man attic company became a globally active company with still many visions for the future.

VTS Software



From D- Unit to D-Test