Personal computer CPU pioneer Chuck Peddle dies at 82

The 6502 almost didn’t happen. Peddle wanted to design his more affordable chip at Motorola, which was struggling to sell its 6800 CPU design kits for a then-costly $300. When Motorola was unresponsive to the proposal (it saw the proposal as internal competition), Peddle and six team members jumped to MOS Technology. Even after the 6502 shipped, it was in danger — Motorola sued months later to try and halt sales, forcing MOS to settle in 1976. Commodore swooped in to buy MOS soon after, making Peddle its chief engineer and changing the computing landscape with the $495 PET.

Peddle left the MOS team in 1980 and worked on lower-key projects like Sirius Systems Technology’s Victor PC and removable hard drives that were precursors to external drives and USB sticks. By then, though, his legacy was well-established. He helped democratize computing by making home PCs affordable. And to some extent, he ushered in the notion of ubiquitous computing, where technology spread everywhere instead of sitting in monolithic servers. In that sense, smartphones and connected homes have roots in the ideas Peddle formulated 45 years ago.

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