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News Archive - Announcement of Electronic Arrays 6-Chip Calculator Chip set

IEEE Computer Magazine, November, 1970

In July of 1970, Electronic Arrays announced that it had developed a calculator chip set that provided a four function, fixed decimal, eight-digit (with calculation results to 16 digits) calculator on six LSI chips that the company dubbed the S-100 chip set. The chips were split by their function, with a Register Chip (5001), Control Chip(5013), Output Chip (5005), Input Chip (5004), Arithmetic Chip (5017) and Microcode ROM (5014). The cost for a complete chip set as advertised at introduction was just under $200 for a single chip set. When availability was announced a few months later, the price had dropped to $156.47 for a set. Each of the ICs was packaged in a standard 24-pin DIP (Dual Inline Package) format, initially in a ceramic package, but later, in a less-expensive plastic package.

In November of 1970, Electronic Arrays created a subsidiary company called International Calculating Machines (ICM) headquartered in Woodland Hills, CA, and began producing a calculator using the chip set. The calculator, called the ICM 816, was introduced in early 1971.

The S-100 chip set, and subtle variants executed with six chips, was quite popular, and were used by Sony, Lago Calc, MITS, Walther and others. Over time, Electronic Arrays, due to advances in its IC fabrication process, was able to combine the functions of some of the chips into single chips, for example, combining the Arithmetic and Register chip, to reduce the number of chips to five, then four, to two, and eventually into a single chip. However, Electronic Arrays was somewhat behind the curve in chip technology development, with other chip-makers such as Texas Instruments and Mostek, as well as Japanese chip-makers Hitachi, NEC, and Toshiba developing lower-cost chip sets and eventually single-chip devices that came out before Electronic Arrays' chips. Over time, Electronic Arrays' market share diminished, and the company fell on hard financial times. It was finally sold to Japanese chip-maker NEC in 1978.