Clare and Pendar history
The history of Clare and Pendar is perhaps the most complicated in the history of the computer keyboard industry. The history spans many companies, including all of the following:
- Pendar, Inc. (California, USA)
- Pendar, Inc. (Idaho, USA)
- Electro-Mech Components, Inc. (USA)
- C. P. Clare & Company (USA)
- Universal Controls (USA)
- Clare-Pendar Co. (USA)
- General Instrument (USA)
- C. P. Clare Électronique
- DCP Group (Portugal)
- Pendar SARL (France)
- Pendar Électronique SA (France)
- Andlinger Group
- Pendar Industrie SA (France)
- Cedi Sécurité (France)
- European Switches Manufacturing (France)
- Pollak (USA)
- Stoneridge (USA)
- IXYS (USA)
Keyboards and keyboard switches were manufactured by a number of these companies over time. In the United States, branding on switches and keyboards included Clare-Pendar (Series S820, S830, S880 and S950), C. P. Clare (foam pad capacitive) and General Instrument.
In Europe, manufacturing was set up in Tongeren in Belgium, and here the European reed switches were produced: SF/SG/SH/SI/SK high-profile and SFL/SGL/SIL low-profile. Following a buyout, Clare in France was renamed to Pendar, and much of the European manufacturing was relocated from Tongeren (in eastern Belgium) to Proville in north-east France (just outside Cambrai), a direct distance of just over 170 kilometres. Some manufacturing in Belgium remained with Clare. The European high-profile reed switches had the Clare branding moulded into the shell, and this branding remained until ESM’s bankruptcy in 2015. Switches made under the Pendar name were stamped “PENDAR”, but the high-profile switches retained their older moulded “CLARE” branding; the low-profile reed switches were always stamped only and thus the branding change was complete. When ESM was formed and took over the Pendar business, the Pendar name remained in use on the parts. Thus, the idea of the reed keyboard switches being made in Belgium and France simultaneously is a misconception.
The mystery of how Pendar, Inc. could have been so well-developed in the three years from founding to buyout is explained by United States law: American companies are registered to their own state, and thus companies are not free to relocate to another state. Pendar relocated from California to Idaho, and this involved starting a new Pendar business in Idaho and closing the existing firm in California. This results in the technicality that Pendar, Inc. of Idaho genuinely was three years old when C. P. Clare & Company bought them (as stated in newspaper articles of the time), but the company’s heritage dates back further, to an unspecified point in time.
The timeline has consistently proven difficult to reconstruct, due to the sheer number of companies involved, and a lack of clarity as to what was made where, and when. The timeline details have come from a number of sources, including:
- Electro-Mech Components (current owner of Switchlight, formerly Switchline)
- Visualux (a UK distributor)
- IXYS Corporation (who bought out Clare, Inc. and who themselves are now part of Littelfuse)
- ESM (European Switches Manufacturing), the final manufacturer of the European keyboard switches; formerly Pendar, and defunct since 2015
- Roberto Guzzetti (formerly of DSC Group, who took over Clare in France)
- Marylou Bassi-Dolmans (former C. P. Clare and Pendar employee)
Carl P. Clare forms C. P. Clare & Company.
This is the date of the oldest-discovered Pendar, Inc. advertisement, in Electronics magazine (Vol. 32, No. 7, February 13 1959). The company already has a sizeable product range at this time. Pendar are located in California.
Pendar, Inc. placed a switch-light advertisement in Electronic Industries magazine (Vol. 19, No. 9, September 1960) This advertisement is attributed to Pendar, Inc., Switch Division, 14744 Arminta Street, Van Nuys, California.
The following entry was placed under mergers and expansions in Missiles and Rockets, Volume 7, No. 10, 5th September 1960:
Pendar Inc., designers and manufacturers of illuminated push-button panel and console switch-light combinations, have sold a substantial interest in their company to American Technology Corp. The sale was made to augment working capital and to provide additional management direction. C. E. Fisher remains as president, with Ernest M. Lever, Walter H. Trumball, and H. Grant Theis also on the board of directors.
Pendar placed a switchlight advertisement in Electronics magazine (Vol. 35 No. 32, August 10 1962, page 147). This advertisement is also from Pendar, Inc. of California.
Electro-Mech Components, Inc. is founded. They will eventually acquire documentation for many of the keyboard switch types (despite not taking over production of them), effectively preserving that knowledge for the future.
Based on the details above and below, it appears that Pendar moved from California to Idaho in 1963, with the original Pendar in California closing (at an unknown point in time) and a new Pendar created in Idaho in its place, due to US businesses being state-registered. Further details about the age of Pendar, Inc. relate only to the new Idaho company. C E Fisher forms the new Pendar, Inc.;
An article in the Spokesman-Review on Sunday 2nd May 1965 notes, “The two-year-old electronics firm, Pendar Inc., of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, will start moving into this new $150,000 manufacturing plant at Post Falls, Idaho, within a few weeks.” This is one of several articles that indicate the date that Pendar moved to Idaho.
In May, C. P. Clare & Company acquires a 98% interest in Pendar Inc. and renames it “Clare-Pendar Co.”; it appears to function as a subsidiary of C. P. Clare & Co. This acquisition is mentioned in the Business Notes and News section of Information Display Volume 3 Number 3, May/June 1966:
The Board of Directors of C. P. Clare & Co. has announced the acquisition of Pendar Inc. as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Pendar will operate as Clare-Pendar Co., with headquarters in Post Falls, Idaho. Lewis G. Zirkle has been named VP and gen’l mgr., and C. E. Fisher will continue as president
Three years later, Lewis Zirkle would found Key Tronic, which would become the largest keyboard manufacturer in the world.
General Instrument buys Universal Controls; Universal Controls is C. P. Clare & Co.’s parent company, and this makes C. P. Clare & Company and Clare-Pendar subsidiaries of General Instrument, whose name and logo will be found on many products after this point.
According to a now-deleted article “Pendar Electronic repris par Cedi Sécurité” in Les Echos from 20/8/1991, “Pendar Electronic” is created by American company “Clare Electronic”. This article is not in the Wayback Machine. The name “Pendar Electronic” seems to be a mistake: Les Echos seem to have overlooked the fact that the Pendar Électronique name was introduced in 1985, replacing the older name of C. P. Clare Électronique. It is no longer possible to re-read the article to double-check what it said. “Pendar Electronic” may be the result of translating the article into English and forgetting to leave the company names in their native French. The use “Clare Electronic” as the name of a US company may be another error on the part of Les Echos, caused by mixing up the US name of C. P. Clare & Company with C. P. Clare Électronique in Proville.
According to Roberto Guzzetti, C. P. Clare Électronique in Proville and C. P. Clare in Tongeren (both owned by General Instrument) are both up for sale, and are bought by the Guzzetti family from Portugal (the details on this are not clear). The Clare name was replaced by Pendar: Enrico Guzzetti chose the Pendar name as one that he was already entitled to use following the business purchase and due to its prestige status in the US. Pendar S.A.R.L. following the buyout. There is no direct relationship between Pendar in France and Pendar, Inc. in the United States. Judging by the NY Times report below, it is likely that this took place a year later than Guzzetti remembered.
Under the heading Company Briefs, the following notice was reported in the New York Times on the 9th of April 1986:
General Instrument Corp. said it had agreed to sell its keyboard, keyswitch, switchlight and surge arrester businesses in Europe and its manufacturing facility in Cambrai, France, to Pendar S.A.R.L., a French company. Terms were not disclosed.
The following entry was included in Official Gazette of the United States Patent and Trademark Office: Trademarks, Volume 1094, Issue 2, 13th September 1988. This entry corroborates the initial name of Pendar and takeover year suggested by the report in the NY Times:
Production of the Pendar product lines is moved from Tongeren to Proville at the behest of the new ownership.
The Clare-Pendar name still in use on a General Instruments catalogue entitled “Clare-Pendar Switchlight and Pushbutton Switches”, which includes the keyboard types S820, S880 and S950.
Stoneridge buy Pollak (unverified)
The Proville “group” is sold to the Andlinger Group at some point between 1986 and 1989. (According to Roberto Guzzetti)
The Proville business is sold to the CEDI Group, becoming Pendar Industrie. (According to Roberto Guzzetti)
“Pendar Electronic” goes into receivership, and is bought by Cedi Sécurité S.A., with 56 of the 135 staff retained. Business is to be refocused on computer keyboards, push buttons and SPDs for France-Telecom. (From the same deleted Les Echos article)
The two entries above conflict with each other. The official story is that the Andlinger group “placed [Pendar] under receivership without our authorization, so that they could pay less at the end of the process” which resulted in the sale to CEDI in 1989. The contradiction in dates (1989 and 1991) could be a mistake by either Les Echos or Roberto Guzzetti.
Stoneridge buy General Instrument’s Transportation Electronics Division (TED).
September: C.P. Clare announces downsizing at Belgian manufacturing facility. This refers to the product lines that remained with Clare in Belgium following the buyout. This included reed switches made for the US market, and Pendar were thus prohibited to sell their reed switches to the US for ten years after the takeover.
January: C.P. Clare sells its Tongeren, Belgian manufacturing facility to Gunther.
Electro-Mech buy the Pollak TED Switchlight range from Stoneridge; this does not include the Series S820 and S880 keyboard switches.
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.
ESM (European Switches Manufacturing) is founded, according to their website.
In September 2000, C.P. Clare Corporation becomes Clare, Inc.
IXYS Corporation buys out Clare, Inc.
IXYS subsidiary Clare, Inc. becomes IXYS Integrated Circuits Division.
In October 2015, ESM declared bankruptcy and ceased manufacturing activity.
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.
- Pendar, Inc. switchlight series advertisement, Electronics, Vol. 35 No. 32, August 10 1962 (scanned by Bitsavers)