FIDELITY ELECTRONICS was formed in 1959 in Chicago, Illinois and sometime later moved to Miami, Florida. Originally Fidelity produced medical equipment and also imported hearing aids from Austria.
In 1968 Sidney Samole became General Manager at Fidelity and by 1970 he had bought out all the other shareholders thereby becoming sole owner and president.
At some point during 1976 as Sidney was watching with fascination a Startrek episode in which Mister Spock was playing chess against a ship computer, the idea for creating a dedicated chess computer was formed after spending a restless night thinking excitedly about this Startrek episode.
The next day he discussed his thoughts with his secretary who after hearing his ideas informed him that her husband was working on a chess program as a hobby in his spare time. Upon hearing this news Sidney of course immediately employed this person. His name was Ron Nelson.
Ron Nelson went on to write for Fidelity all the chess programs for the early range of chess computers.
Finally in January 1977, Fidelity was ready to show to the world the world’s first dedicated chess computer the FIDELITY CHESS CHALLENGER 1.
The Chess Challenger 1 had many faults, it was a very weak program and very user unfriendly. But it started the dedicated chess computer era. It was quickly replaced by Chess Challenger 3 which went on to enjoy huge worldwide sales.
Fidelity used this success to quickly establish themselves as the world’s premier chess computer manufacturer and in the years that followed launched a large continuously improved range of excellent machines.
Meanwhile Ron Nelson who had proven to have great abilities in the hardware side of chess computers began working more in production and engineering.
Fidelity wanting to ensure their status as the top manufacturer successfully engaged Dan and Kathe Spracklen, who joined their Team sometime in 1979, after having recently terminated their relationship with Chafitz Inc.
Kathe & Dan Spracklen
Success for the Spracklen’s at Fidelity was immediate after entering their first Fidelity project the Fidelity Chess Challenger X into the 1st World Microcomputer Chess Championship (WMCCC) in 1980. Where it won the tournament and became the 1st World Microcomputer Champion with a perfect score of five wins in five games.
Fidelity and the Spracklen’s went on to win the first four World Microcomputer Chess Championships that were held before they had to concede the crown to Hegener & Glaser’s Mephisto computers and programmer Richard Lang. Fidelity were never able to win another World Microcomputer Chess Championship after this.
First 4 World Microcomputer Chess Championships (WMCCC)
1. 1980 London Fidelity Chess Challenger X
2. 1981 Travemünde Fidelity X (Open Grouo), CC Mark V (Commercial Group)
3. 1983 Budapest Fidelity Elite X (A/S Budapest)
4. 1984 Glasgow Fidelity Elite X, Conchess X, Mephisto III-S Glasgow, Psion
By the late 1980’s the sales for dedicated chess computers began to decline due increasing competition from Home Micro Pc’s and rapidly improving software which was sold at a fraction of the cost of a comparably skilled dedicated chess computer.
Finally in 1989 after having made some huge financial losses Fidelity Electronics was sold to their major competitor out of Germany, Hegener & Glaser.
Fidelity continued to make large losses in North America until finally Hegener & Glaser decided to completely close the Fidelity operations in 1992.
The last computer produced by Fidelity may have been a Chess Mate or Avanti. In either case both machines were very poor efforts when compared to the many great machines produced during the Fidelity glory days.