Chuck Peddle, one of the principal engineers of the early home computing era, has died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 82. He’s best known as the lead designer for MOS Technology’s 6502, a low-cost processor (just $25 in 1975) that discovered its method into first-wave home computers like the Apple II and Commodore PET. Alternatives of that core design found their method into powerful consoles just like the Atari 2600 and NES. If you have nostalgia for the times when 8-bit computers had been innovative, you likely owe a debt of appreciation to Peddle.
The 6502 nearly didn’t happen. Peddle needed to design his more affordable chip at Motorola, which was struggling to promote its 6800 CPU design kits for a then-costly $300. When Motorola was unresponsive to the proposal (it noticed the project as inner competitors), Peddle and six team members jumped to MOS Technology. Even after the 6502 shipped, it was at risk — Motorola sued months later to try and halt gross sales, forcing MOS to settle in 1976. Commodore swooped in to purchase MOS soon after, making Peddle its chief engineer and changing the computing landscape with the $495 PET.
Peddle left the MOS crew in 1980 and worked on lower-key initiatives like Sirius Systems Technology’s Victor PC and removable hard drives that had been precursors to exterior drives and USB sticks. By then, although, his legacy was well-established. He helped democratize computing by making home PCs affordable. And to some extent, he ushered within the notion of ubiquitous computing, the place technology spread everywhere instead of sitting in monolithic servers. In that sense, smartphones and linked homes have roots within the ideas Peddle formulated 45 years ago.