Computers: The $525 Million Iou

The $525 Million Iou

In 1976 William Millard borrowed $250,000 to expand an Oakland-based computer company called IMSAI. The lender, a Boston-area investment firm named Marriner & Co., got a note that was convertible into 20% of the stock in Millard's company. Last week a California jury ordered Millard to pay up, and the verdict may cost him $525 million, or 2,100 times the original loan. Reason: Millard built a sister company of IMSAI into ComputerLand, the giant retail computer chain (1984 revenues: $1.4 billion), and 20% of ComputerLand's stock is worth a fortune.

If the verdict stands, the money will go to Micro/Vest, a...

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