Personal Computer Museum, Canada's Videogame Museum


AST Research
16215 Alton Parkway
Irvine, CA 92718
Year Founded:
Year Defunct:
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AST Research, Inc. was a personal computer manufacturer, founded in Irvine, California in 1980 by Albert Wong, Safi Qureshey and Thomas Yuen. (The name comes from the initials of their first names.) AST's original business was the manufacture and marketing of a broad range of microcomputer expansion cards, later focusing on higher-density replacements for IBM's standard I/O cards in the IBM PC. A typical AST multifunction card of the mid-1980s would have an RS-232 serial port, a parallel printer port, a battery-backed clock/calendar (the original IBM PC did not have one), a game port, and 384 KB of DRAM (added to the 256 KB on the motherboard to reach the full complement of 640 KB) - marketed under the product name 'Six Pack'.

AST Research also produced the Mac286, a pair of NuBus cards containing an Intel 80286 and RAM, allowing a Macintosh to run MS-DOS side by side with its existing operating system. These cards were announced March 1987 alongside Apple's Macintosh II line (AKA, the 'Open Mac'). The product line was eventually sold to Orange Micro, who developed the concept further.

As PC manufacturers improved the integration of peripheral controllers on their motherboards, AST's original business began to dry up, and the company developed its own line of PCs, for the desktop, mobile, and server markets.

AST was one of the members of the Gang of Nine which developed the EISA bus.

In 1992 AST became a Fortune 500 company at place 431.

AST computer's reliability was considered close to that of quality leaders Compaq, Gateway, and IBM. AST managed to gain a decent market share of the PC market, however, it never came close to overtaking Compaq and Dell.

The failure of AST to recognize the movement towards the commoditization of the PC contributed to its downturn. AST insisted on developing and using its own components in the PC's it produced, instead of those of specialized OEM's. One often used saying at AST, in an attempt to dismiss competitors who did so was, "the best technology they have (i.e. Dell, Compaq, etc.) is a screwdriver."

AST Research was acquired by Samsung on August 11, 1996. In January 1999, the name and intellectual property were acquired by a new company named AST Computers, LLC.

AST sponsored the English football club Aston Villa from 1995 to 1998.