August 19th, 2023 ~ by admin

Dead Brands of Computing Past: Soltek

This is the beginning (hopefully) of a series of articles dedicated to dead brands – computer hardware manufacturing companies, which at one time enjoyed overwhelming success, but disappeared for one reason or another (some could not stand the competition, some were mired in corruption, some simply could not rebuild their own business). This first article will look at the story of the smashing success and unpredictable collapse of the Taiwanese MoBo manufacturer Soltek Computer Inc., one of the leading motherboard manufacturers in the early 2000s.  (EDITOR: I Can’t wait for Abit – all hail the BP6)


When you are a monopolist in the market of goods or services, then you are not afraid of any competition. But what if young, ambitious players, trying to surpass you, offer the market something that is not inferior in quality, but at the same time allows the consumer to save money? In such competitive conditions, you can either recapture positions, choosing innovative paths, or leave the pedestal. We saw similar races in the global IT market at the beginning of the twentieth century. Along with predatory companies in the unpredictable ocean of computer hardware, myriads of small manufacturers of computers and components multiply and multiply. And if someone does not manage to grow from a small fry into an adult fish, then this is a very common phenomenon. It is impossible to say that only fierce competition is the main cause of loss of profitability or absolute bankruptcy. The history of market relations knows many examples of how, due to negligent management, venerable brands burst like soap bubbles. There were cases when professional marketing was not enough to promote an innovative engineering idea. Often, the reasons for the collapse of brands were global economic and technical realities.

MoBo manufacturers specializing in the manufacture of motherboards, after the standardization of Intel microprocessors, popped up around the world like mushrooms after rain. In the mid-90s of the twentieth century, a personal computer still remained an individual assembly electronic device, and everyone could choose their own set of hardware, based on the needs for the functionality of the PC system. In the same period, it became absolutely clear that the IT technology market is an unplowed field. Go ahead, plant your own “seeds” and earn fast-growing profits. Thus, a relatively constant circle of microchip manufacturers gradually formed, which, with enviable regularity, introduced new products to the electronics market. By this time, the technology of surface mounting of printed circuit boards (the so-called SMT technology) was established, implemented using pick-and-place class robotic mechanisms. It has become the driving force behind the multilayer printed circuit board industry. Another important point in the rapid development of the IT market was the cultivation of young engineering personnel who offered not only innovative developments, but also the rapid implementation of competitive products. It goes without saying that the appearance in 1996 of a Taiwanese manufacturer – Soltek – did not make such a splash.

The new player boldly rushed into battle: the company’s production facilities were based on the use of the latest SMT equipment, and the staff consisted of the most talented personnel in the field of computer engineering. The head office of the company was located in Taiwan’s His-Chih Industrial District (Xizhi District). The area is known for being the headquarters of brands such as Acer and DFI. The company’s first assembly line was also located in the area. After two years of trademark paperwork and invention patents, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has registered the Soltek™ brand with ownership of Soltek Computer Inc. A trademark slogan was also registered: Soltek – The Soul Of Computer Technology. Main activities: computer technologies, software systems and products of research activities in the field of IT. But this is only a general nomenclature, while the detailed list of Soltek products was quite wide, from PC motherboards to keyboards and mice.

SL-54U5 Super 7 Board

The products of the first production strategy are low-budget MoBo solutions based on VIA chip technologies, adapted for Intel and AMD processors. Consumer interest was captivated not only by the price of Soltek motherboards, but also by an extended set of interface capabilities of peripheral equipment, as well as a well-chosen set of utilities supplied in the kit.

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