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Bill Godbout (October 2, 1939 – November 8, 2018) was an early computer pioneer and entrepreneur known for manufacturing and selling computer equipment, parts, and electronic kits in Silicon Valley, during the 1970s and 1980s.[1][2]

Bill Godbout
Born(1939-10-02)October 2, 1939
DiedNovember 8, 2018(2018-11-08) (aged 79)
ResidenceConcow, California

He and his company, Godbout Electronics (and later CompuPro and Viasyn), were very influential in the early years of the personal computer market.[3][4] Together with George Morrow, he worked on the IEEE-696 better known as the very popular S-100 bus.[5]

He is featured in the book The Silicon Boys, 1999 by David A. Kaplan about the pioneers of Silicon Valley.[6]

Early lifeEdit

He was born on October 2, 1939 in Providence, Rhode Island.[7]


After college, he went straight into a job at IBM, although he left to pursue the use of the Intel 8080 microprocessor. In the 1970s, he established Godbout Electronics in the San Francisco Bay area, out of a Quonset hut at Oakland International Airport.[7] The New York Times called it a "popular electronics store."[8] According to the Vintage Computer Federation, he was "a legend in the S-100 community for his 1970s-1980s work at Godbout Electronics and CompuPro."[9]

For his store, he purchased bulk discarded electronics largely from military suppliers.[7] Godbout "sold chips and memory boards by mail and did business with developers on a handshake basis."[10]

After renaming the company CompuPro, he worked with George Morrow to develop the S-100 data bus, the IEEE-696. The S-100 bus was sold as part of the Altair 8800 kit machine.[7]

Godbout manufactured S-100 compatible cards, which "formed the backbone of early systems like the Altair 8800 and homebrew machines, allowing techies to interface their processors and memory with peripherals and form useful microcomputers."[7]

In the 1980s, Godbout focused on networking and moved his company, renamed Viasyn, to Hayward, California. He was chairman of the business. Viasyn focused on custom computing equipment for “things like medical offices, the early electronic music scene, and even niche areas like elevator control systems."[7]

Personal life and deathEdit

Near the end of his life, he lived in the community of Concow, California with his wife Karen. The couple had a daughter, Brandi.[7] Godbout was a keen pilot, and would often fly planes with his friend Gary Kildall.[7]

Godbout was killed on November 8, 2018 when the Camp Fire razed his home and workshop in Concow.[7][11] He was survived by his wife and daughter.[12]


  1. ^ the Surplus Connection
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-11-14. Retrieved 2009-07-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Selling surplus parts
  3. ^ Shea, Tom (May 21, 1984). "Q&A: William Godbout". InfoWorld. 6 (21): 64. ISSN 0199-6649.
  4. ^ Pournelle, Jerry (April 1985). "Over the Moat". BYTE. p. 355. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  5. ^ the development of the S-100 bus
  6. ^ "Bill Godbout". NameBase. Retrieved 2012-01-20.[dead link]
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "RIP Bill Godbout: Cali wildfire claims the life of master maverick of microcomputers". The Register. November 18, 2018. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  8. ^ "A 'Perfectly Imperfect' Life: The Victims of the California Wildfires". The New York Times. November 14, 2018. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  9. ^ "Camp Fire: Searching for the missing, remembering the dead — now at 56". The Mercury News. November 15, 2018. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  10. ^ "Fire in the Valley: The Birth and Death of the Personal Computer". Pragmatic Bookshelf. October 20, 2014.
  11. ^ "R.I.P. Bill Godbout, 79 – Vintage Computer Federation". Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  12. ^ "Silicon Valley microcomputer pioneer dies in Camp Fire". ABC 7 News. Archived from the original on 2018-11-19. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)

External linksEdit