Irving Gould - The Money Man
by Ian Matthews, Sept 30, 2002 www.commodore.ca
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Irving Gould was the Canadian financier who gave Jack Tramiel the funding to keep Commodore running during several key periods of financial distress.
An important 1966 investigation of the bankrupt Atlantic Acceptance Corporation by the Canadian Government showed that Atlantic had produced potentially fraudulent financial reports. Atlantic was a major investor in Commodore. To save his company Commodores founder and CEO, Jack Tramiel, gave Irving Gould 17% of the company in exchange for US$400,000. As part of the deal Tramiel also gave Gould the position of Chairman of the Board.
In 1975 Commodore lost US$5 million on sales of US$50 million. Again Gould personally stepped in; this time with a loan guarantee for US$3 million. This financed the purchase of MOS technologies, which quickly became CSG, Commodore Semiconductor Group.
Irving Gould has said that Commodore made its easiest money selling cheap calculators. However Commodore's contribution to the world is the microcomputer. From MOS came the 6502 CPU which gave birth to the world's first single board microcomputer the KIM1, the worlds first real computer the Commodore PET, and the world's best selling computer the Commodore 64 (which uses a 6502 derivative named the 6509).
As important as the MOS' fabrication facilities were to Commodore's calculator business, the greatest acquisition in the MOS deal was an engineer named Chuck Peddle. Peddle was the former Motorola engineer who designed the 6502 and convinced Jack Tramiel in 1977 to produce the world's first real computer, the Commodore Personal Electronic Transactor. The PET was announced several months BEFORE the Apple 1 and about six months before the Radio Shack TRS 80.
In 1984 Jack Tramiel got into a argument with Irving Gould over an issue which has yet to be fully explained. The result was that Jack left his company and soon after bought the remnants of Atari from Warner. Gould became Commodore's CEO.
Irving Gould and Medhi Ali, Commodore's Managing Director, have been widely credited with causing the untimely demise of Commodore in 1994. In retrospect it easy to see a series of massive mistakes. The desire to maximize profit by producing low cost equipment and the serious lack of advertising were apparently both the result of their management.
I do not believe that history will judge Irving Gould as harshly as he has been treated in the last twenty years. The bottom line is that he single-handedly saved the company on several occasions and helped kept it afloat for 10 years after its visionary, Jack Tramiel, left.
An associate of mine flew on the Commodore Jet to Irving Gould's house in the Bahamas in about 1996. At that time Irving Gould was alive and well living in retirement and was believed to still be a Canadian citizen. Go CANADA!!!
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