I first noticed the illuminated “ASM MEXICO” switch on Electronic Surplus a couple of years ago (early 2013), but decided that it wasn’t a keyboard switch and ignored it.
As time passed, I discovered that it was related to Clare-Pendar keyboard switches, and bought some, along with a second “ASM MEXICO” reed switch; these latter switches approximately correspond to the US part number S88010 E9.
Who made my S88010 E9 switches? Pass.
This is where it gets very hazy. Having spoken to Electro-Mech (current owner of Switchlight, formerly Switchline), Visualux (a UK distributor), IXYS (who bought out Clare, Inc.) and ESM (formerly CEDI, themselves formerly Pendar), this is all I’ve found thus far:
|2015||In October 2015, ESM (European Switches Manufacturing, formerly Cedi Industries and Pendar in France) declared bankruptcy and ceased manufacturing activity. The e-mail address listed on their website no longer functions.|
|2012||IXYS subsidiary Clare, Inc. becomes IXYS Integrated Circuits Division|
|2002||IXYS Corporation buys out Clare, Inc.|
|2000||In September 2000, C.P. Clare Corporation becomes Clare, Inc.|
|2000||ESM (European Switches Manufacturing) is founded, according to their website.|
|1999||C.P. Clare Corporation announces the divestiture of Clare EMG, Inc., described as its “Mexican electromagnetic operations”; whether this was ever related to the factory that made “ASM MEXICO” switches is unclear, as there have been numerous Mexican factories related to this story|
|1997||Electro-Mech buy the Pollak TED Switchlight range from Stoneridge; this does not include the S820 and S880 magnetic reed keyboard switches (from Clare/Pendar, these were the SF/SG/SI/SK/SH and SFL/SIL/SGL series)|
|1997||January: C.P. Clare sells its Tongeren, Belgian manufacturing facility.|
|1996||September: C.P. Clare announces downsizing at Belgian manufacturing facility.|
|1992||Stoneridge buy General Instrument’s Transportation Electronics Division (TED)|
|1989||In May 1989, Clare Canada, Ltd. of Wakefield, Massachusetts makes an investment in the C.P. Clare division of General Instrument of Canada Ltd. (based in Toronto, ON); the receiving business is described thus: “Sells relay and electronic components for reed relays, electromechanical relays, reed switches, surge arresters and related products.” (Recorded per the Investment Canada Act)|
|1988||Stoneridge buy Pollak|
|198?||Something happens and we’re not sure what —
|1971||Engineering drawing branded “Clare-Pendar / A General Instrument Company” (Pendar-K1A-drawings.pdf) with the newer Clare-Pendar logo|
|1969||According to the obituary of Lawrence Powell Jr, he went to work for Clare-Pendar in Post Falls for around two years|
|1969||This is the oldest date on an engineering drawing labelled “Pendar Inc” (Pendar-66-data-sheet.pdf).|
|1967||General Instrument buys Universal Controls; Universal Controls is C. P. Clare’s parent company, so this would have put Clare-Pendar under General Instrument|
|1966||May: C.P. Clare & Co. acquires a 98% interest in Pendar Inc and renames it Clare-Pendar; it appears to function as a subsidiary of Clare.|
|1966||April: C.P. Clare & Co. is looking to take over Pendar, Inc. [The Spokesman-Review, 26th April 1966]|
|1963||C E Fisher forms Pendar, Inc. (based on The Spokesman-Review article, above, which gives Pendar, Inc. as three years old in April 1966)|
|19??||Pendar in France “splits” into separate French and US companies; the latter might be the Pendar, Inc. mentioned above.|
|1937||Carl P Clare forms C.P. Clare & Company, later known as C.P. Clare Corporation.|
We know from Electro-Mech documents that the US company was called “Clare-Pendar Co” during an unspecified date range, and that in 1971, it was part of General Instrument and using the logo found on the 1973 Clare-Pendar keyboard documented at Deskthority. ESM believe that Pendar bought Clare, but C.P. Clare long outlasted Pendar, Inc. A document from ESM suggests that the French Pendar brand became CEDI in 1992, but I do not actually understand what the document means.
Here are two foam and foil keyboards from 1982:
The first keyboard does not identify the OEM, and most of the slider assemblies are unbranded. At least one assembly however is a different design, and it is clearly branded “CP CLARE” and marked “ASM MEXICO”. This is the first confirmed link between Clare/Pendar and ASM MEXICO, which at this point occurred under General Instrument’s ownership. The controller chip bears General Instrument branding.
The second keyboard, stamped “ASSEMBLED IN MEXICO” on the PCB, uses a variant of the unbranded switches from the first keyboard (the chief difference being the taller keystems). This keyboard is noted as being from General Instrument, rather than Clare/Pendar.
It’s curious that, once again, the switches are branded only as Clare. The switches in the Control Data Corporation CC609D terminal keyboard mentioned below are the only type known to be branded as both Clare and Pendar branding (as “CLARE-PENDAR”), yet those were much older switches, from the 1970s.
The PDF documents are courtesy of Electro-Mech.
Chronicle article 1966
The following newpaper article is attached to the back of a CP Clare photograph on eBay. It is stamped “CHRONICLE 11 MAY 1966”, and I do not know specifically which newspaper this is. Not all of the article is visible, but that much that is displayed is transcribed below.
There are several interesting points to note. The article states that Pendar was to become Clare-Pendar, suggesting that CP Clare itself was not going to change its name. This helps explain why Clare in Belgium retained its name. It also explains documentation from Electromechcomp from Clare-Pendar that lists numerous other premises as CP Clare instead of Clare-Pendar. Clare-Pendar appears to be just the subsidiary in Post Falls.
Additionally, ownership of CP Clare by Universal Controls is interesting, because Universal Controls were bought the next year by General Instrument. This therefore appears to indicate how Clare-Pendar became a General Instrument subsidiary.
Acquisition of Pendar, Inc., of Post Falls by C. P. Clare & Co. of Chicago re-emphasizes industrialist C. P. Clare’s deep roots in Idaho.
A graduate of the University of Idaho, where he obtained a degree in electrical engineering, he spends much of his time at his ranch in the Wendell, Idaho area, although the company which he founded and which bears his name is based in Chicago.
His 29-year-old firm, which makes relays and related control components, has acquired a 98 per cent interest in Pendar, which makes illuminated push keys for the data processing and aerospace industries.
Clare, who has brought his organization into a position of leadership in the electrical and electronic equipment field, sees “bright prospects for expansion” of the Post Falls plant.
Pendar, to be known as Clare-Pendar Co., is a three-year-old manufacturer now employing 150 persons in a new $500,000 plant just east of Post Falls.
Clare & Co. has plants in Chicago and Mundelein, Ill.; Fairview, N.C., and Rapid City, S.D., and subsidiaries in Canada and Belgium. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Universal Controls, New York, which makes and operates totalisator equipment for race tracks. He was born at Rossland, B.C.
Clare lived as a youth in Chewelah, Wash. His wife originally was from Spokane.
He founded Clare & Co. in 1937. In that year he and H. J. Peterson, now director of manufacturing, built the first ship- …
[ lines omitted from the image on eBay ]
… in 1957 retained company management and policies while enhancing its position in the industry and affording greater opportunity for expansion.
Clare also has attended the University of Michigan and Harvard Business School.
He has lived in Arlington Heights, Ill., since 1938, and was a prime mover in construction of the Northwest Community Hospital there, of which he is a trustee, and the Presbyterian Church there, to which he belongs.
He is also a trustee of both the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and Dickinson College at Carlisle, Pa.
He is a director of the United of America Bank in Chicago, Amphenol Corp. of Broadview, Ill., Industrial Wire & Cable Co., Ltd., of Toronto, Clare-Elliott, Ltd., of London and Universal Controls, Inc.
Mr. and Mrs. Clare have a married daughter who lives in Park Ridge, Ill.
Reed switch variants
One of the most confusing aspects is that the same parts were branded as Clare, Pendar, Clare-Pendar and “ASM MEXICO”. The following reed switch types have been documented or observed:
|Type||European series||US series||Observed|
|Tall illuminated||SI, SH||Series S820: S820__ J7|
|Tall latching illuminated||SK||N/A||
|Low-profile momentary||SFL||Series S880: S88010|
|Low-profile latching||SGL||Series S880: S88110||
|Low-profile illuminated||SIL||Series S880: S88___ J7||
Document Pendar-S820-S880.pdf indirectly indicates that the French series SF/SG/SI/SK/SH corresponds to US series S820, and French series SFL/SIL/SGL corresponds to US series S880. The page of the document in question does not cite any brands, but we know that both Clare and Pendar branded these switches.
My switches do not correspond precisely to any drawings or photographs, suggesting that fresh tooling was created for the Mexico factory, and that deviations were made to the design drawings. With that said, the switches in the Control Data Corporation CC609D terminal are of the newer design, yet appear to be from the 1970s and not marked as being made in Mexico.
For now I am referring to mine simply as “ASM MEXICO” as I do not know what brand was in force at the time that they were made, and under whose ownership the manufacturing was instigated in Mexico.
The metal contact switches remain a mystery. Mine are not crosspoint contact, suggesting that, like with the Mexico-made S880 series, they were made using fresh tooling that was not designed to the same standard.
- Control Data Corporation CC609D terminal with Clare-Pendar–branded S820-series tall reed switches; as suggested by the catalogue page, these are not the same design as the European-made SF series switches
The following switches are not branded, but suggest that US-made switches did at one stage follow the design of European-made switches:
- Aydin Controls — low-profile switches; it’s hard to see, but they appear to have perpendicular ends to the support struts
- Harris EKA-9870 — a single S88210 low-profile latching switch used for the TTY lock key; this is not branded, but it is marked with its part number as per European practice, and the design is clearly the same shape as in the catalogue, with the rectangular plate supports and PCB supports (S88210 is not a known part number, though)
Patents relevant to Clare/Pendar computer keyboards and switches.
|Clare Pendar Co||US 3771636 A||Space bar assembly||1971-04-02||1973-11-13||This is the characteristic Clare-Pendar space bar assembly with the interlocking bars|
|General Instrument Corporation||EP 0072784 A2||Keyswitch design||1982-08-10||1983-02-23||A design for a single-sided foam and foil PCB where the capacitor pads are through-hole soldered!|
|General Instrument Corporation||US 4450332 A||Keyswitch design||1982-08-25||1984-05-22||This appears to be for the foam and foil switch series mentioned earlier|
|General Instrument Corporation||US 4454562 A||Keyswitch with telescoping plunger||1982-09-15||1984-06-12|
|General Instrument Corporation||US 4453198 A||Linear feel keyswitch with hysteresis||1982-09-15||1984-06-05||That is a strange definition of “linear”|
|General Instrument Corporation||US 4433225 A||Keytop levelling mechanism||1983-02-22||1984-02-21||This may be the origin of scissor switches|
During our brief correspondence, Isabelle Cachera from ESM assured me that they had no manufacturing capacity in Belgium, and that their only manufacturing capacity was in France. She attached some photos of their factory, that completely overlooked at the time (back in June 2015). Also shown below is a photo she sent of their switches; you can see that one tall switch (SI?) is marked “Clare” while most of the others are marked “Pendar” including another tall switch (SF).
Assuming the clock on the camera is set correctly, the factory photos were taken in 2002, while the photo of the switches was taken in 2003.