Through the early years of the 1970s, WDC made their money by selling calculator chips; by 1975, they were the largest independent calculator chip maker in the world. The oil crisis of the mid-1970s and the bankruptcy of its biggest calculator customer, Bowmar Instrument, changed its fortunes, however. In 1976, Western Digital declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. After this, Emerson withdrew their support of the company, and WDC was on its own.
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Western Digital was founded on April 23, 1970 by Alvin B. Phillips, which means that the hard drive giant just recently turned 40 years old! The company started off life as General Digital and was a manufacturer of MOS semiconductor test equipment. In the summer of 1971 the company dopted its current name, moved to Lake Forest, California, and introduced its first product, the WD1402A universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter (UART).
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