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As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cadence in 2013, it's interesting to reflect upon the state of the EDA industry at the time Cadence was formed. Since the two companies that merged to form Cadence in 1988 - ECAD and SDA Systems - were launched in 1982 and 1983 respectively, Cadence was actually "in formation" during most of the 1980s.
And what a decade it was! In the 1980s the commercial EDA industry went from virtually nothing to a $2.5 billion business, EDA tools spread throughout the electronics industry, and by the end of the decade virtually all chips and boards were designed using some sort of EDA software. Thanks to EDA software and a surging ASIC market, chip design was no longer confined to a few large companies with big internal CAD organizations and fabs.
I wrote a 10-year retrospective of EDA for CMP Media's High Performance Systems magazine in December 1989 (don't look for it online, this was way before the World Wide Web). The article was titled Design Automation: The Dazzling Decade. In the article, I noted that the EDA revolution of the 1980s hinged on three dominant themes:
Indeed, the term "EDA" itself was a mid-1980s invention. EDA as we know it today began with "CAE" (computer-aided engineering) companies offering front-end design tools. When these companies started to offer "CAD" (physical IC and PCB) tools as well, and people got tired of writing "CAE/CAD," the term "EDA" was coined.
$120,000 for Schematic Capture
The "big three" CAE-then-EDA vendors in the 1980s were Daisy Systems, Valid Logic, and Mentor Graphics. All sold workstations bundled with software. Daisy and Valid built their own workstations, and Mentor resold Apollo workstations. Mentor's 1982 Idea Station integrated schematics, logic simulation, and documentation on the very first Apollo workstation - the 0.3 MIPS DN100 - for the tidy sum of $120,000.
By the mid-1980s you could buy mail-order schematic capture software for $500 from OrCAD (now part of Cadence). That shows how fast things moved in the 1980s.
Here are some other key developments in the 1980s, as noted in my 1989 article:
This list could be much longer, but I hope it gives you an idea of the "dazzling decade" that EDA went through in the 1980s. The commercial EDA industry as we know it was born in that decade, along with the beginnings of much of the EDA technology we use today.
And the excitement went on. As noted, ECAD and SDA Systems merged to form Cadence in 1988, and Cadence acquired Gateway and Tangent in 1989. Cadence was the leader in IC CAD in 1989, and became the second largest EDA provider in 1990. In 1991, following the purchase of Valid Logic, Cadence became the EDA revenue leader.
We'll be writing more about Cadence and EDA industry history during this 25th anniversary year. Stay tuned!
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