Bowmar/ALI Inc.
Acton, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Bowmar was a small company specialising in high technology components for the space programmes and produced a hand-held calculator as a demonstration device for its LED displays. Founded 1951. So good was the reception to the calculator that in 1971 it moved into large scale calculator production.
Bowmar became one of the major manufacturers, making calculators for other companies and also selling under its own name. A report from 1974 on the calculator industry says that Bowmar is probably the largest manufacturer of hand-held calculators in the world and during 1971 and 1972 was Texas Intruments' largest customer for LSI calculator integrated circuits. Bowmar's total sales increased from $3m in 1971 to $64m in 1973, largely as a result of its entry into calculators.

With the dramatic fall in calculator prices in the mid-1970s, Bowmar decided that it needed to manufacture its own integrated circuits to remain competitive and in 1974 invested in a semiconductor plant. However, prices continued to plummet and Bowmar had to file for bankruptcy protection early in 1975.

To many, the "Bowmar Brain" is synonymous with the early pocket electronic calculator. Originally an LED (light emitting diode) display manufacturer, Bowmar/Ali, Inc. (USA), found they could not sell their displays to Japanese electronic calculator makers. Reviewing their business plan in 1970-71 and examining the new trends in the marketplace, Bowmar decided to design and manufacture portable calculators which would be sold by other marketing companies.

In September 1971 they modified their plans and began shipping their first model, a hand-held unit, under their own nameplate. This model (the 901B) was also produced for other companies including Craig (model 4501) and Commodore (C110). Bowmar soon became one of the world's largest producers of electronic calculators, mainly pocket models, for sale by themselves and by other companies such as Sears, Radio Shack, etc. (under their own nameplates). Early Bowmar calculators were made in the USA. In later years some were also made or assembled in Mexico.
In the mid-1970s, as the calculator "boom" was in full swing, Bowmar could not get enough integrated circuit chips from their suppliers and could not keep pace with the marketplace in low cost and new features. By 1976 the company had gone bankrupt, leaving a legacy of technical and marketing innovations.

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