Personal Computer Pioneer, Chuck Peddle Dies at the Age 82

Chuck Peddle, one of the most influential electrical engineer and entrepreneur, passed away on December 15 at the age of 82. He was suffering from pancreatic cancer and died at his home in Santa Cruz, Calif. He is best known as the leading designer and patriarch of the MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor. Peddle was also the designer of KIM-1 SBC (single-board computer) and its successor the Commodore PET PC (personal computer).

The US-born engineer joined Motorola in 1973 and started to work on developing the 6800 processor. The chip was large in size, complicated and therefore expensive. It originally cost $300. Chuck recognized the problem and tried to make it simpler and lower-cost so that it can reach to more customers. He planned to bring down the cost up to $ 25 that is 1/12th of the original 6800. But the company was not impressed with his idea and instructed him to drop the project. Chuck then with a group of small engineers left the company and joined MOS Technology.

He then headed the design of the 650x family of processors and made them at $25 to answer to the Motorola 6800. His $25 microchip has a tremendous impact on initiating the personal computer (PC) age. The chip was used in Apple II, Commodore VIC 20, Oric computers, Acorn computers and so on. The chip became a hit in the market not only for cheaper than Motorola and Intel processors but it also had simpler hardware and performance was faster.

Doug Fairbairn, a director at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif said,  “Chuck Peddle is one of the great unsung heroes of the personal computer age.”

“Virtually all of the early, successful, mass-market personal computers were built around the 6502, not chips from Intel or anyone else,” he added.

In 1980, Peddle left the MOS team and started to work on lower-key projects and found Sirius Systems Technology. It became a successful computer manufacturer in Scotts Valley California that was founded by Chuck Peddle and Chris Fish. A new era of democratizing computing started to formulate almost 45 years ago with him that made home PCs affordable. The history of computer will remember him for his contribution.