Hua Ko Electronics was started in 1979 in Hong Kong, though with close ties to the PRC. Their story is a bit more interesting then their products, which were largely second sources of western designs. In 1980 they started a subsidiary in San Jose, CA. This was a design services center mainly ran as a foundry for other companies. They developed mask sets in their CA facility but wafer fab and most assembly was done back in Hong Kong (as well as the Philippines by 1984). Chipex also had a side business, they were illegally copying clients designs and sending them back to the PRC. In addition they were sending proprietary (and restricted) equipment back to Hong Kong and the PRC. in 1982 their San Jose facilities were raided and equipment seized. Several employees were arrested and later charged and convicted. The following investigation showed that the PRC consulate had provided support and guidance for Chipex’s operations and illegal activities. So where exactly did the HKE65SC02 design come from?
One of the companies that Hua Ko was found to be illegally copying was GTE Micro, in Arizona. GTE Micro was one of the first designers of CMOS 6502. The pictured Hua Ko chip is a HKE65SC02PL fab’d by Hua Ko in Hong Kong and assembled in Philippines. While such devices would have been banned from import into the US, they found their way to other markets, Asian, and European being the most common. This example was purchased from an Eastern European supplier. Eastern Europe had an insatiable appetite from computers in the 1980’s and considering the political climate at them time, it is no surprise to find such chips there.