by Ian Matthews, Sept 30, 2002 – last revised  Nov 23 2018) – Magazine Article added Dec 4, 2010  – pictures courtesy of 

We wrote a much more complete history of Irving Gould in 2018 that you might also be interested in:  The Crazy Story of How Irving Gould Ended Up Owning and Killing Commodore

irving_gouldIrving Gould was the Canadian financier who gave Jack Tramiel the funding to keep Commodore  operating during several key periods of financial distress.

The Canadian Government’s 1966 investigation of the bankrupt Atlantic Acceptance Corporation showed that Atlantic had produced potentially fraudulent financial reports.  Atlantic was a major investor in Commodore.  To save his company, Commodore’s founder and CEO Jack Tramiel, gave Irving Gould 17% of the company in exchange for US$400,000 ($1.8M in 2018 dollars).  As part of that historic deal Gould became Commodore’s Chairman of the Board.

A few years later, in 1975 Commodore lost US$5 million on sales of US$50 million ($225M in 2018 dollars).  This was a direct result of Commodore’s CPU supplier, Texas Instruments, entering the calculator market.  Again Gould personally stepped in; this time  with a loan guarantee for US$3 million.

That money financed the 1976 purchase of MOS  technologies, which quickly became Commodore Semiconductor Group (CSG).  The MOS acquisition was the key component in Commodore to ‘vertical integration’ plans and was at the heart of Commodores string of huge product success’  over the next decade.

In the late 1990’s Irving Gould told a friend of mine that Commodore made its easiest money selling cheap calculators in the 1970’s.  However, Commodore’s great contribution to the world is the development and popularization of the microcomputer.  In 1975 MOS completed development of the 6502 CPU which was the core technology behind:

The profit motive drove Gould  to play a critical and largely unacknowledged role in computer history.

As important as the MOS’  fabrication facilities were to Commodore’s calculator business, the greatest acquisition in the MOS deal was a former owner and lead engineer named Chuck Peddle.  In late 1976 Peddle convinced Jack Tramiel 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.

Irving Gould and Jack Tramiel  had a successful working relationship until 1984 when an argument that has yet  to be fully explained caused Jack Tramiel to quit on the spot.  Soon after Jack bought the remnants of bankrupt Atari from Warner Brothers (now called Time Warner).  As a result of Jacks departure Gould immediately became Commodore’s CEO.



Irving Gould & Commodore’s Big Dive 1985

Irving  Gould and Medhi Ali (Commodore’s Managing Director at the end) have been widely ‘credited’ with causing the untimely demise of Commodore in 1993/4 through a long series of market squandering mistakes. The drive to maximize profit by producing low cost equipment combined with the serious mis-marketing of the Amiga product line was apparently the result of their management.

If Gould had kept to the financial side of the business and left the ‘big picture’ work to Jack Tramiel, Commodore may have been a name we see on computers today.

History will not likely be kind to Irving Gould but it is important to note that he single-handedly saved the company on several occasions.  For that, he deserves recognition and thanks.

2002 Post Script: A good friend of 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!!!

2005 Update: We were informed that Irving Gould passed away in 2004.

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Take A Peek Inside This Bahamas Estate That Could Be Yours For $29.5 Million - Investing Alarm · August 25, 2020 at 12:24 am

[…] estate was built in 1995 by Irving Gould, a Canadian financier and chairman of Commodore International. Gould was an avid fisherman and boater who enjoyed exploring the Bahamian waters. Stories […]

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