Cromemco History

This document copyright Herbert R. Johnson 2010. Updated JAn 03 2010.
For S-100 Cromemco documentation and tech notes, see this Web page.
Price and other information can be found in this notice.
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Cromemco founding history

Here's an extended quote from Les Solomon's article from the 1984 book Digital Deli, edited by Steve Ditlea. A copy of the book is on several sites including the link below to Solomon's contribution:

"About a month before we ran the Altair story I had a visit from another imposingly large person, Roger Melen of Stanford University, who had written several articles for us. Roger contemplated the Altair set up on the table, and when I told him it was a computer his eyes glazed over. He muttered something about getting one for himself and his friend Harry Garland, who also wrote for us, and asked me for the name and address of the kit supplier. Then he vanished. Later I heard he took the next plane to Albuquerque, marched into Ed's office and bought Altair #2 right off his desk."

"A few months later I got a call from Roger, asking me to fly out to San Francisco to see something very important. When I got there, he took me to the apartment he shared with Harry and showed me what he'd done with his Altair. Plugged into the machine was a double set of add-on circuit boards called the Dazzler, whose video output could create an amazing display on a color TV-the first plug-in expansion board for a personal computer......"

"Dazzler sales went over so well that Roger and Harry formed a new company to manufacture Altair plug-ins. They decided to name it after Crothers Memorial Hall, where they had lived during their undergraduate days at Stanford. Cromemco (Crothers Memorial Company) was the first of what would become an entire subindustry of firms manufacturing add-ons to extend the capabilities of existing personal computers."

Cromemco history from Robert Kuhmann

Robert C. Kuhmann, an engineer and businessperson, was an early customer of Cromemco, and knew the founders. He built an early bulletin board system from Cromemco products. Robert provided a "memoir" to me on Jan 2007 of his Cromemco-related activities, and about his CP/M RBBS system. CHeck this Web page for details.

Cromemco in the 1980's

The following is from a series of Dynatech Inc. press releases.

Sept 1988, "News" newsletter #129 - "Cromemco's name has been changed to reflect its acquisition by Dynatech, Inc. Our new name is now Dynatech Computer Systems. And, Howard Klemmer has accept a position as the new CEO for Dynatech Computer Systems. Gary Arnold wil now resume his duties in the Dynatech Video Group while continuning to work on Dynatech Computer Systems's strategic directions. HOward comes to Dynatech from Sky Computers, a company which he started and nutured into a successful computer company. Howard shares Gary's committment to product quality and customr support."

Nov 7 1988 - a press release repeats the above information. A Nov 14 1988 press release adds that Klemmer was with Raytheon Co, and then at DEC as an engineering and programming manager in the Special Systems Division. It also notes that DCS "was originally established in 1974 and is now an integrator of open platform, UJNIX-based supermicrocomputers in selected niche markets." A Nov 28 press release notes Richard Moore was named as vice president of product operations, responsible for "all computer engineering, manufacturing and customer service efforts". Moore was a former Zilog VP of engineering, and previously was a director at Honeywell in Pheonix AZ. a Nov 21 press release, name sJames Peter Albanese as corporate controller, and formerly a treasurer and controller at SKY Computers, Inc.

A March 7 1989 prese release, notes Dynatech Computer Systems (formerly Cromemco) announces a VME supermicrocomputer based on multiple 68030's and 68882's (up to four each). These are priced from $27K US with oe processor, and $50K with two processors.

An undated document (probably 1989) with the Dynatech name and logo has a series of Q&A statements about Cromemco and DCS history and products. It notes that Cromemco was acquired by Cyhnatech in "December 1986", and Howard Klemmer became president in "August '88", after Gary Arnold became "Cromemco" president in April '88 and board chairman of Dynatech at some point. "Harry and Roger" "had chosen to dtay through the transition period until a new management team was in place". The note says "in 1984 we introduced our UNIX product..[for] markets in video graphics and millitary mission planning". There is dicussion of turning the company around and acquisitions, and an upcoming VME 68030 multiprocessor product announced "within 90 days".

Q. Since the S-100 line is becoming obsolete, are the prices going to come down? A. The S-100 line is NOT becominng obsolete - we are going to activerly support and sell this line. What is happening is that we are pruning the low-volume products to streamline our offerings. Pricing will be determined on a product-by-product basis. Other A&Q notes the "Cromemco lable continues to be sold", adn there are 20 active US dealers and 20 international distributors with an office in Frankfurt. "Over 60,000 installed systems in 66 countries worldwide". A "new logo" is discussed; this and the VME reference suggests this document was written in early 1989.

IN JUne 1991, a press release still refers to both Dynatech and Cromemco, and announces CROMIX with a 6804 on the S-100 bus "DCS has completed a very unique VME interface board which allows operation of 6U VMD boards in the reliable S100 systems." the 68040 is apparently from Force Computers as the CPU-040, plus the DCS VSI-1 VME to S100 interface card. The release notes customers such as "Colorgraphics Inc - a Dynatech Broadcast Group Company" with Cromemco S-100 Liveline 5 and ARTSTAR 3D systems.

21st century Cromemco history

In June 2004 I was told I'd find Cromemco's web site at this link. Seems that Cromemco is now a European company which offers some multiprocessor products and also Internet services. Their site acknowledges their S-100 origins from two Standford University professors (California USA) and mentions their early S-100, Z80 and Unix work. Beyond a "history" document they offer no further information on their oldest products.

In late November 2004, the current "Cromemco" company said they would not prohibit distribution of their old Cromemco S-100 documentation. Gaby Chaudry (operator of the "unofficial CP/M Web site"), posted in comp.os.cpm on a "Cromemco" thread: "I got a mail from Cromemco Switzerland stating that the original US company doesn't exist any more and that from their side there are no objections against publishing the material." A copy of the email was on the Cromemco "museum" page of Randy McLaughin's S-100 manuals archive site (site since abandoned). In July 2006 I've copied it as below.

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      Tue, 16 Nov 2004 10:35:06 +0100
From:           Cromemco AG
To:             Gaby Chaudry
Subject:        Re: Veroeffentlichung von Handbuechern online

Sehr geehrte Frau Chaudry,

die ursprüngliche Cromemco in den USA existiert nicht mehr und aus
unserer Sicht gibt es keine Einwände gegen eine online
Veröffentlichung der Handbücher.

Ich werde unser Archiv mal durchsehen und falls ich noch
entsprechendes Material finde, stellen wir Ihnen das gerne zur

Viele Grüße
Patrick Scheller

Cromemco AG
Alpenstrasse 11 / Zugerhof
CH-6304 Zug

------- End of forwarded message -------

And here's the translation:

Subject: Publishing of manuals on-line

Dear Mrs. Chaudry,

the original Cromemco USA doesn't exist any more and from our
point of view there are no objections against publishing the manuals

I will check our archive, and in case that I will find corresponding
material, we will be pleased to make it available to you.

Best greetings
Patrick Scheller

Gaby Chaudry
Wirtstr. 10     81539 Muenchen    
Support fuer CP/M und Windows 3.1x

Dynatech and Cromemco AG in 2010

As of 2004 and some years after, the European company Cromemco AG had a corporate Web site at this Web link. As of Jan 2010, there is only a stub with an email "window" at the domain page. The "Internet Wayback Machine" says archiving of the site was blocked by the owners. A search for "Dynatech" shows no computing company, and "" is an unused domain held by

Herb Johnson
New Jersey, USA
here is how to email @ me

Copyright © 2010 Herb Johnson