Will Donzelli wrote:
I have a few Nitron NC7040LC chips - 24 pin DIPs. They
datecodes. Any idea what these might be? Who was Nitron anyway?
I see some of the chip merchants on the net have some as well.
The information contained herein was gathered from interviews with some
of the players that were involved during the time, including Don Farina,
Richard Craig, and Bob Norman. Some of the information I've gathered
over time has some conflict in it, so take this all with a suitably
sized grain of salt. Most of the information was gathered by talking to
these folks about the development of General Micro-electronics and the
Victor 3900 calculator, but sheer inertia led to discovery of some of
what happened after GM-e disappeared.
The history of Nitron is pretty twisted. It all started as a result of
the purchase of General Micro-electronics by Philco-Ford after GM-e ran
out of capital after an extremely intense effort to develop the Victor
3900 calculator (out of the first MOS LSI chips ever made for commercial
use). Some of the folks that worked for GM-e left and founded a number
of different IC companies..some making chips, and some serving as
consultancies. GM-e was founded by a number of Fairchild folks who were
frustrated with the fact that Fairchild didn't seem interested in
pursuing MOS integrated circuits.
There were two companies that were spinoffs or derivatives of spinoffs
from GM-e, one called Cartesian, and another called IST
Semiconductor Technology) that ended up making LSI chipsets for
calculators among other things. IST did the design work, and Cartesian
fabricated the chips. Commodore became a main customer, and used the
chips (initially a three-chip set). At one point, the founders of IST
and Cartesian got together and decided that the two companies should
merge, and a company called Veradyne was born. The timeframe isn't
quite clear on this, but it was probably sometime in 1969. Veradyne
fell on hard times sometime in mid-1972, and Commodore (Jack Tramiel)
ended up purchasing the IST division of Veradyne in order to keep his
calculator chips coming, calling the company the IST Division of
Commodore Systems, Inc. Later in '72, McDonnell Douglas bought out the
rest of Veradyne, and renamed the company Nitron. Frank Wanlass was made
President. Nitron went on to be a contract design & manufacturer of LSI
chips, including some single-chip calculator ICs that became fairly
popular on the "build it yourself" market...bubble-packed chips sold at
places like Poly Paks and others.
From the timeframe of around '73 or so, my trail
goes cold. Clearly,
Nitron must have existed sometime into the 1980's, given
the dating on
the chip you found. I have a Nitron single-chip calculator IC from '73
that is in a ceramic 40-pin dip with gold lid and pins.
Hope this helps a little.
The Old Calculator Museum