Escom (computer corp)

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Escom corporate logo

ESCOM, previously Schmitt Computer Systems Ltd., was a German computer company, best known in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands as the successful purchaser of Commodore International in 1995.

Escom was founded by Manfred Schmitt of Darmstadt, Germany as the computer division of his music company in 1986. It became a separate company in 1991. In 1993, it became a publicly traded company, and it grew rapidly, controlling 11.2% of the German PC market by 1994.

During 1992 and 1993, a British operation was set up,with a distribution and assembly base in Irvine, North Ayrshire and a small number of retail stores. These followed the model established in Germany with small town-centre shops which would customise PCs to order, rather than the out-of-town superstores and mail-order businesses which dominated the UK market.

In 1995 Escom's retail presence on the high streets of the United Kingdom expanded massively when it took over many branches of the Rumbelows electrical chain, which were being sold off by Rumbelows owner Thorn EMI. Also in 1995 Escom bought Commodore International for US$14 million, primarily to get the Commodore brand name. It started using the Commodore name on computers sold in Europe, and established a separate division for Amiga-related technologies. The company grew too quickly, however, and lost 185 million German Mark that year. With no bailout from its shareholders, the company declared bankruptcy on 15 July 1996 and was liquidated.

The Commodore trademarks were purchased the following year by Tulip Computers, while the remaining trademarks, together with the full set of patents, copyrights and other intellectual property, were acquired by Gateway.