Photosensitive coatings perfected, enabling use of photoengraving and setting the stage for future copper etching processes.


German inventor Albert Hanson describes a flat foil conductor laminated to an insulating board, using multiple layers. The concept lays the groundwork for the printed circuit.

Paul Eisler (right), "father of the PCB," is born in Vienna, Austria.Paul Eisler

British engineer Arthur Berry patents a print-and-etch method.

US authorities rule that all electronic circuits for airborne instruments were to be printed.


The Institute for Printed Circuits is founded in Chicago.


Racal Electronics is founded in the UK.

1960s and 1970s
Boards were designed using 4:1, red-and-blue line vellum method for hand-taping components and tracks. A precision camera then produced the 1:1 negative manufacturing film. An experienced designer could lay out and tape a board at the rate of about two hours for each equivalent 14-pin IC on the board.

Pads were about 70 mils or greater, and traces and spacing were 25 mils. Boards were typically double-sided, with only a small percentage of multilayer boards, usually no more than four layers.

Gerber Scientific introduces RS-274-D as a machine-based format for vector photoplotters.


Scientific Calculations founded.


Racal Electronics founds Racal-Redac.

Mid 1960s

CAD comes into existence. Developed in three directions: blind-digitizer based CAD, design automation CAD and auto-interactive CAD.


Boards were designed using 4:1, red-and-blue line vellum method for hand taping components and tracks. A precision camera then produced the 1:1 negative manufacturing film. Experienced designers could lay out and tape a board at the rate of about two hours for each equivalent 14-pin IC on the board.

Pads were about 70 mils or greater, and traces and spacing were 25 mils. Boards were typically double-sided with only a small percentage of multilayer boards, usually no more than four layers.


Racal-Redac releases PDP 15-based PCB, schematic and silicon layout; Z-Router—line probe; and A-Route—Lee maze.


Scientific Calculations introduces SCICARDS.


Dansk Data Elektronik A/Z founded.

Racal-Redac releases MINI PCB design system, PDP11/34-based.


Makoto Kaneko (above) founds Zuken.

University of Texas researchers James Truchard, Bill Nowlin and Jeff Kodosky found National Instruments.

Polar Instruments founded by ex Tektronix engineering manager Doug Campbell.

Dr. Charles Jennings, a Sandia Laboratories chemist, publishes the research that later becomes the guide for current carrying capacity and dielectric breakdown in industry standards for the next 30 years.


Grado founded; development of Autoboard begun.

Racal-Redac introduces MAXI PCB design and schematic.



Interactive PCB design workstation released by Racal-Redac.

Grado ships Autoboard to customers.


Mentor Graphics Corp. founded by ex Tektronix engineers Tom Bruggere, Gerry Langeler and Dave Moffenbeier.

Praegitzer Industries Inc. founded by Robert Praegitzer.

Aryeh Finegold and David Stamm form Daisy Systems.


ECAD Inc., predecessor to Cadence, is founded.

Electronics Workbench (formerly Interactive Image Technologies) founded.

Racal-Redac introduces CADET PCB design system, world’s first microprocessor-based system.


ACCEL founded to build hardware database for sorting accelerator.

Mentor Graphics merges with CADI to form PCB division.

Richard Nedbal founds PCAD (Personal CAD Systems Inc.)

James Solomon founds SDA Systems.

Daisy, Mentor, Motorola, National Semiconductor, Tektronix, Texas Instruments, and the University of California develop EDIF, a vendor neutral format for netlists and schematics.

L. Curtis Widdoes, Tom McWilliams and Jeff Rubin found Valid Logic Systems.


Premiere issue of Printed Circuit Design published in September by PMSI.

Omation Inc. (Schema) founded.

Pacific Numerix Corp. founded.

RedCAD system launched by Racal-Redac.

AutoTRAX Software founded.

Mentor Graphics acquires CADI; hires John Cooper from IBM (later of Cooper & Chyan).


Lavenir Technologi Inc. founded by Max Henzi and Marius Matioc.

Mentor Graphics introduces Board Station.

OrCAD Systems Corp. founded.

Protel International Pty Ltd. founded by Nick Martin (above); later becomes Altium.

Racal-Redac releases Visula, a UNIX-based PCB design system.

Alan Finch (below) and three coauthors propose a gridless method for designing fine-line printed circuit board.

Alan Finch


Use of PCs to design PCBs is becoming a more common practice, although many saw CAD systems as cost prohibitive. Surface-mount technology (SMT) was seen as a technology for the 1990s.

Automatic digitizing systems become available.

Electronics industry takes a downturn.


Accel enters the business as a distributor of Tango schematic and board layout tools.

OrCAD ships OrCAD/SDT.

Scientific Calculations acquired by Harris Corp.; renamed Harris Scientific Calculations Division.

OrCAD ships OrCAD/SDT.

Applicon releases Bravo3 PCB design and schematic software (developed by Algorex).

Gene Marsh

 Gene Marsh (above) founds Pads Software.

Mid to Late 1980s

SMT ramps faster than expected. Learning how to design for SMT and high-speed design are major issues for the industry. There are roughly 25 or so CAD/CAM/CAE vendors.

Designs are being created with several methods: hand taping, mini-computers, CAD workstations and PCs. However, the CAD market is reaching a new maturity level and people realize that it is here to stay and will be the method of the future.

Printed Circuit Design publishes first salary survey.

VALID Logic Systems acquires Allegro maker Telesis System Corp.

Calay Systems acquired by AGIV, of, at the time, West Germany.

ECAD Inc. acquires Omnicad Corp.’s PCB line; goes public.

CAE/CAD/CAM industry sales were $9 billion.

Accel introduces internally developed Tango-Route autorouter.

Racal-Redac releases Bloodhound router.

Ian Orrock, Racal-Redac managing director, 1983-87 (above)


Accel introduces Tango Series II.

ACT (Advanced CAM Technologies Inc.) founded as software division of CAD Solutions.

GE Calma bows out of design market.

Cadnetix and HBSystems agree to merge.

ECAD, maker of Dracula, acquires SDA Systems, developer of Framework Colt Ensemble, and forms Cadence Design Systems. Joe Costello (above) named president.

Intergraph forms EDA (electronic design automation) division.

CadSoft introduces EAGLE (Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor) EDA schematic capture, PCB layout, autorouter and CAM program.

Daisy Systems launches hostile bid to take over Cadnetix and succeeds; company becomes known as Dazix.

Orbotech and Valor Computerized Systems launch a joint venture called Frontline PCB Solutions to develop CAM software for PCB fabrication.

CADSTAR, NETTLISTER and Visula Plus released by Racal-Redac.

VALID acquires Calma.

Dr. David Tatchell and Harvey Rosten found Flomerics, a developer of computational fluid dynamic software.


Cadam Inc. acquires P-CAD.

Mentor Graphics introduces Hybrid Station.

ACCEL expands into international markets.

VALID acquires ADT, the maker of Analog Workbench Communications Manager.

Cadence acquires Verilog maker, Gateway, and Tangent Systems.

Printed Circuit Design changes its name to Circuit Design.

EPA is founded (now known as EDA Consortium).

John Cooper and David Chyan leave Mentor Graphics; found Cooper & Chyan Technology.

OrCAD sold to Intelligent Systems Corp.

Manny Marcano founds EMA-EDA.

Sean O'Neil founds Design Solutions Inc. (DSI), which later becomes one of the country's largest design service bureaus.

WISE Software Solutions, Inc. founded.


OrCAD Systems acquired by Intelligent Systems.

EDAC (Electronic Design Automation Companies) formed.

Cadence acquires Prages maker, ASI, and Thermax maker, Helios.

Cooper & Chyan Technology introduces first shaped-based router.

Dazix files for bankruptcy; Intergraph acquires Dazix.

Steve Klare founds Intercept Technology Inc.

Miller Freeman Inc. acquires Circuit Design from PMSI and changes name back to Printed Circuit Design.

Racal-Redac launches Visula Expert Series and MaXI/PC.

Dr. John A. Swanson founds Swanson Analysis Systems Inc. to develop and market finite element analysis software. It would later become Ansys.

WISE Software Solutions releases GerbTool CAM software.


Surface-mount technology and high-speed driving the need for multilayer boards. EDA software begins move to UNIX.

OrCAD acquired in management buyout from Intelligent Systems Master L.P.

Harris Scientific Calculations Division purchases TASK Technologies; acquires Finesse MCM.

CAD Software sold to Kyoden, a Tokyo, Japan, based distributor of PADS products. 

Calay closes its doors. 

Mentor Graphics introduces MCM station.

IPC-D-275 released.

ACCEL introduces TangoPRO for Windows and Tango NEC DOS, localized for Japan.

Cadence acquires Valid Logic. Also acquires Pinebush Tech., maker of PT Plot.

CADint Sweden founded by original design team of EE-Designer products.


First annual PCB Design Conference West held.

CAD T.E.A.M. merges with CAD Concepts Inc. to form The T.E.A.M. Corp.

Cadence acquires acquires Library Manager maker Sedco and Leapfrog maker Sven.

Cooper & Chyan Technology introduces high-speed support.

Harris Scientific Calculations Division changes name to Harris Electronic Design Automation Division.

Mentor Graphics introduces Board Station 500. Also introduces MCM design kit with MicroModule Systems.

Valor Computerized Systems Ltd. is founded by Chuck Feingold, Ulrich Gottschling and Ofer Shofman

WISE releases first PC-based CAM system running on Windows platform.


Mentor Graphics is the largest PCB software company in the world, followed by Zuken ($100 million in annual revenues), IBM and Redac ($44 million).

CADAM changes name to Altium.

IPC begins work on designers certification program.

Quickturn Systems and PiE Design Systems merge to become Qucikturn Design Systems.

Management buyout of Harris Corp. occurs; new company is named Harris Electronic Design Automation.

Ivex Design International formed.

Accel ships 32-bit TangoPRO for Windows.

IPC Designers Council formed.

Mentor Graphics partners with CISI for thermal simulation and analysis tool. Also introduces SITE and Pentium high-speed design kit.

ARPA awards $6.3 million program to Mentor Graphics for MCM design tools.

Mentor names Texas Instruments executive Wally Rhines president.


Zuken acquires Racal-Redac for $19.5 million; forms Zuken-Redac.

Dave DeMaria (above), ex managing director, Zuken-Redac

Accel acquires Omation Inc. and expands TangoPRO line.

ACCEL Learning Center founded (customer training center).

Mentor Graphics introduces EngineerView.

Computervision Electrical Design Software purchased by INCASES.

Harris EDA introduces new interdisciplinary approach to EDA.

INCASES Engineering Gmbh founded.

Mentor Graphics introduces EngineerView.

Ohio Design Automation founded.

Viewlogic Systems Inc. founded.

IPC releases IPC-SM782A, the first update to the industry standard for land pattern design.


US PCB production reaches $7.1 billion, topping $7 billion for first time.

Accel Technologies acquires the assets of P-CAD from Altium.

ACT (Advanced CAM Technologies Inc.) becomes independent.


Aegis Industrial Software founded.

Cooper & Chyan goes public.

IPC encouraged by DARPA to revisit CAD to CAM data transfer (the stat of GenCAM).

IPC Designers Council finalizes first certification program.

Mentor Graphics acquires Axiom Daterer Skandinavien AB.

OrCAD acquires Massteck.

Valor Computerized Systems creates as ODB (Open Data Base) printed circuit board manufacturing machine language format.

Verilog HDL approval as IEEI standard 1364.

Design Solutions Inc. merges with Proactive Consulting, forming largest design bureau service in US.


ACCEL introduces ACCEL EDA.

Ansoft Corp. acquires MacNeal Schwendler’s Electronics Business Unit.

Cooper & Chyan Technology acquires UniCAD.

Innovative CAD Software is founded.

Mentor Graphics acquires Interconnectix, SETO Software and Royal Digital Centers Inc.

EDIF Consortium releases EDIF 4 0 0, its final release.

First PCB Design Conference East held in October.

Cadence acquires Cooper & Chyan for $418 million.

GenRad donates GenCAD electronics data transfer format to IPC; becomes basis for GenCAM.

Praegitzer acquires I-CON’s design division, CTI, Trend Circuits and its first East Coast design center.

Protel acquires NeuroCAD Inc.

VeriBest is founded when Intergraph spins off Electronics Division into a wholly owned subsidiary.

Aegis Industrial Software releases CircuitCam.

Ansys goes public on Nasdaq Exchange.


Windows OS gains market share and acceptance.

Cadence settles Federal Trade Commission charges that its acquisition of Cooper & Chyan would substantially reduce competition, with Cadence agreeing to allow router developers to participate in its "Connections Program" and enable independent software developers to develop and sell interfaces to Cadence layout tools and environments.

Ansoft acquires Boulder Microwave Technologies.

Harris EDA changes its name to Xynetix Design Systems Inc.

OrCAD acquires The T.E.A.M. Corp.’s EDA Bridge technology and CIS Technology from Q Point.

PADS acquires HyperLynx.

OrCAD and MicroSim merge, retaining the OrCAD name.

Praegitzer establishes Praegitzer Asia; acquires three design centers – PCB West Inc., Off-Site Solutions and Trav Tech; and acquires Mosher Design Services.

Valor Computerized Systems’ releases ODB++ into public domain.

Viewlogic acquires Eagle Design Automation.

Viewlogic is acquired by Synopsys.

Praegitzer establishes Praegitzer Asia; acquires three design centers – PCB West Inc., Off-Site Solutions Inc. and Tav Tech – and acquires Mosher Design Services.

Viewlogic acquires Eagle Design Automation.

Snopsys acquired Viewlogic.

Dii Group acquires Design Solutions Inc.

Flomerics cofounder Harvey Rosten dies.

Barco Graphics acquires Gerber Systems; begins updates to Gerber standard.

High speed/signal integrity beings to hit mainstream PCB, much like surface-mount technology did in the early 1980s.

ACCEL releases ACCEL PDM Product Data Management and ships final version of P-CAD for DOC.

Barco Graphics releases RS-274X.

Cadence acquires U.K. based Symbionics and Ambit Design Systems Inc.

OrCAD acquires ARS Microsystems’ assets and Microsim Corp.

OrCAD and Summit Design announce their intention to merge.

PADS acquires ACT (Advanced CAM Technologies Inc.)

GenCAM 1.0 data transfer format released by IPC Data Transfer Solutions Committee.

Praegitzer acquires a second PCB design center in India and Intergraph Printed Circuits.

Protel International Pty Ltd. acquires MicroCode Engineering Inc.

Management buyout of Viewlogic from Synopsys.

Xynetix (formerly Harris EDA) sells PCB layout software business to Intercept Technology.


The Internet becomes a key trend in PCB EDA.

Ansoft acquires Pacific Numerix Corp.

Avant! buys IC/ASIC design software business.

Cadence acquires Quickturn Design Systems Inc.

Electronics Workbench (formerly Interactive Image Technologies) acquires Ultimate Technology.

The Institute for Interconnecting and Packaging Electronic Circuits officially shortens name to IPC.

OrCAD and Summit Design terminate merger agreement.

Cadence acquires OrCAD.

Praegitzer acquires Intracon Design Ltd.

Protel acquires Accolade Design.

Viewlogic and Summit Design merge.

Mentor Graphics acquires Veribest for $19 million.

Aegis releases CheckPoint, one of the first dedicated BOM management tools.

Tecnomatix acquires Unicam Software Inc., a provider of PLM software.


US PCB fabrication market peaks at more than $10 billion.

Protel acquires Accel Technologies.

Viewlogic changes its name to Innoveda.

Innoveda acquires PADS Software.

Mentor and Valor announce bidirectional interface between Mentor's Board Station layout suite and and Valor's Enterprise 3000 DFM software, the first such interface between PCB design tools and manufacturing analysis software.

GraphiCode acquired by Mania Technologie AG.

Zuken acquires INCASES; drops the Redac name.

Flextronics acquires The Dii Group.

Sean O'Neil reacquires Design Solutions Inc. from Flextronics.

Valor releases ODB++(X), an XML-based version of ODB++.

IPC releases IPC-2615, Printed Board Dimensions and Tolerances, which replaces IPC-D-300G.

Tsien founded; releases BoardMaker.


NEMI announces plans to orchestrate a data exchange convergence project aimed at accelerating the adoption of a single CAD-to-CAM data exchange format. The objective of the project is to combine IPC’s GenCAM, Valor Computerized System’s ODB++ and other similar specifications.

ON Semiconductor and SpinCircuit Inc. sign agreement to collaborate to provide PCB designers with a comprehensive online database of technical resources, tools, services and support.

Valor launches e4eNet Inc., a company focused on business to business e-collaboration product and services throughout the electronics supply chain.

STEP AP210 releases first data format.

Major tech recession begins; sets in motion huge migration of PCB manufacturing to Asia.


Mentor Graphics acquires Innoveda for $160 million.

Ex Pads/Innoveda executives Rick Almeida, Ken Tepper and Joe Clark found DownStream Technologies.

DDE introduces design software for embedding passives in PCBs.

GenCAM 2.0 data transfer format released by IPC Data Transfer Solutions Committee.

Mania Technologie acquires Barco Graphics.

Steve Krause launches Direct Logix, a developer of CAM and ERP integration tools.

Pete Waddell acquires Printed Circuit Design magazine; forms UP Media Group.

PentaLogix founded by Max Henzi and Marius Matioc, former cofounders of Lavenir .


Mentor acquires PCB layout software vendor DDE-EDA A/S.


IPC Data Transfer Solutions Committee releases IPC-2581, an updated data transfer format based on GenCAM.

PTC acquires Ohio Design Automation.


National Instruments acquires Electronics Workbench.

Praegitzer Industries founder Robert Praegitzer dies.

Tom Hausherr and Nick Ban launch PCB Libraries (later PCB Matrix Corp.)

UGS acquires Tecnomatix.

ProSTEP MCAD-ECAD interface proposed.

Cadence files to delist from the New York Stock Exchange.

The board of directors of Electronic Tools Company (e-tools) founds Elgris Technologies.


DownStream Technologies releases BluPrint, PCB industry's first automated documentation tool.

Caneberra Technologies launches Numerical Innovations.

Zuken acquires CIM-Team, a German CAE developer.


Design Solutions Inc. (DSI) acquires EMS firm Paradigm Manufacturing Partners.

The University of Applied Sciences Potsdam creates the Fritzing open-source PCB design software initiative.


Ansys acquires Ansoft.

Mania and Barco bought by ESO Capital Group and renamed Ucamco.

Mentor Graphics acquires Flomerics Group for about $60 million.

Valor discontinues ODB++(X).

ProSTEP MCAD-ECAD interface introduced; Mentor Graphics and PTC become first to implement it.

STEP AP210 revises data transfer format.


Valor obtains assets of PCB Matrix Corp.

After being fined for stealing a former customer's trade secrets, Design Solutions changes name to Solutions Group Inc.

Premier Farnell acquires CadSoft Computer.

EMA Design Automation acquires Design Advance.


PCB/MCM software sales $519.8 million; overall EDA software sales $5.30 billion.

Zak Homuth, Michael Woodworth and Stephen Hamer found Upverter, a developer of cloud-based PCB CAD and schematic editing software.

Mentor Graphics acquires Valor.


UP Media Group celebrates the 20th anniversary of the PCB West trade show.

PCB/MCM software sales $565.3 million; overall EDA software sales $6.124 billion.

Carl Icahn becomes Mentor's leading shareholder; insists on changes including possible sale/breakup of company.

UP Media Group acquires Bogatin Enterprises; launches Printed Circuit University, first Web-based PCB design curriculum.

IPC-2581 Consortium formed.


Gene Marsh, PADS founder, dies.

Natasha Baker (ex Analog Devices and National Instruments) founds SnapEDA.

UP Media Group establishes the Dieter Bergman Hall of Fame for PCB Design and Paul Eisler Hall of Fame for PCB Fabrication.

Cadence acquires Sigrity, a developer of power and IC PCB software.

ProSTEP iViP Association develops IDX, a data exchange format for ECAD/MCAD design collaboration.

Tom Hausherr and Nick Ban re-form PCB Libraries.

Altium fires founder Nick Martin, names Kayvan Oboudiyat CEO.

Alan C. Finch, the father of the shape-based autorouter, passes away.


DownStream Technologies debuts SoloPCB CAD tool.

Alan Finch, Dr. Howard Johnson, Richard Nedbal and Charles Pfeil inducted to the Dieter W. Bergman PCB Design Hall of Fame.

DownStream Technologies launches FabStream PCB Design tool.

IPC updates IPC-2221, the standard for printed circuit board design.

PCBWeb, a browser-based ECAD company,  is launched.

Mentor Graphics acquires SofTech's CADRA line of mechanical design software.

Zuken announces plans for a major R&D site in Milpitas, CA.

Ousted Altium founder Nick Martin ceases to be a significant shareholder in the company. 

Freedom CAD acquires AcAe.


IPC releases IPC-2581B electronics data transfer standard.

Altium names Aram Mirkazemi chief executive.

CircuitCAM is taken over by Tianjin Decoter Co.; the development organization remains with LKSoftWare.

AJ Incorvaia

Autodesk acquires Circuits.io.

Altium relocates PCB design R&D and top management to the US. 

Mentor Graphics names A.J. Incorvaia (right, top) vice president and general manager of its Board Systems Division. 


IPC inducts Gary Ferrari (right, bottom) into Hall of Fame

Gary Ferrari

Mentor acquires Tanner EDA.

Henry Potts, vice president of Mentor's PCB Design Group, joins Altium as senior vice president.

NI acquires Beecube, developer of FPGA prototyping products.

Altium acquires Octopart and Ciiva.


Fujitsu and its partners build a 20-layer PCB using only IPC-2581B data

CST buys IdemWorks and Aurorasat

EDA Consortium rebrands itself the Electronic System Design (ESD) Alliance.

Autodesk purchases Eagle from Premier Farnell.

EMA acquires Accelerated Designs.

Ansys names Ajei Gopal CEO, replacing Jim Cashman.

NI promotes Alex Davern to CEO, superseding cofounder James Truchard.

Dassault Systems acquires CST - Computer Simulation Technology.

Altium buys Perception Software.

Altium acquires Transfer BV.

Siemens announces agreement to acquire Mentor Graphics.


Siemens completes Mentor Graphics acquisition.

Dick Finigan, the former chairman and CEO of Pads Software, passed away.

Altium acquires Upverter.

Robert (Bob) Gardner, former director of the EDA Consortium (EDAC) trade group and director at Verific Design Automation, passed away.

Ansys acquires Computational Engineering International (CEI)


Dassault Systèmes has signed an agreement to acquire the Elecworks electrical and automation design software product line from Trace Software.

 Ansys buys DfR Solutions.

Zuken acquires Vitech.

Altair acquires of EDA software developer Polliwog Co.

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