3

One pf the pivotal historical events of the 8-bit computer industry was the acquisition by Commodore of MOS Technology in 1976. This gave Jack Tramiel the vertical integration he wanted, and led directly to the PET, Vic-20 and all their successors.

The fact that it could happen at all, was a contingent historical event, resulting from the Motorola lawsuit weakening MOS at just the right time. I'm wondering whether CBM had another path to vertical integration, had that particular event not lined up just right. An open-ended question of the form "What would have happened if..." would be a bit too broad and opinion-based for Stack Exchange, but what we can do is look at relevant questions of historical fact, so:

Was there any other smallish, struggling chip company in the US, in mid to late 70s, that could have been a candidate for acquisition? The other names that come readily to mind when I think about chip companies at that time, like Intel, Motorola, Texas Instruments, were obviously not candidates, but I'm sure there were plenty of smaller ones whose names I'm not familiar with. Were any of them in the right kind of financial distress at the time?

5
  • 1
    There certainly were "smallish, struggling chip compan"ies at the time... but in the analog market. They're not generally useful for making digital computers (with one exception).
    – DrSheldon
    Commented Jun 8 at 16:37
  • 2
    I thought of General Instruments, who had the CP1600 processor and developed the PIC microcontroller at around that time. But the PIC probably isn't the type of chip that Commodore would have been looking for -- although the CP1600 might have been. GI didn't kill the CP1600 and spin the PIC product line out to Microchip until a decade later.
    – Dave Tweed
    Commented Jun 8 at 17:21
  • 2
    Other companies making microprocessors/microcontrollers at the time included Fairchild, National Semiconductor, Rockwell, Signetics, RCA, and Intersil.
    – Dave Tweed
    Commented Jun 8 at 17:28
  • 1
    I don't have a citation to hand, but I'd heard that Commodore's calculator group owed MOS a lot of money for chip orders just as the Motorola lawsuit was biting. Someone at Commodore (possibly Jack Tramiel) realized that if they delayed payment they could put MOS in a precarious enough situation that CBM could snap the whole company at a bargain price and never have to pay a chip company again
    – scruss
    Commented Jun 10 at 23:34
  • 1
    I'm pretty sure there weren't any chip companies in financial distress that had a microprocessor that was as cost-effective as the 6502. The Z80 is really the only candidate, and Zilog don't seem to have had financial trouble at this point. Commented Jun 13 at 21:17

0

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .