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I just arrived at DAC 2013 in Austin, and as always I'll be writing about the interactions of software and hardware. This is the 50th DAC, and about 20 years of DAC for me. Although I have not been to every DAC over this period, it's a great year to reflect back on DAC history.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1993, I was working at a small server company, Tricord Systems, in the Minneapolis area. I was 25 years old and had never heard of DAC, when the professor who served as my advisor called me out of the blue and told me that a research paper based on material from my Master's thesis had been accepted at DAC 1994 in San Diego. Furthermore, he said he was getting married and couldn't attend the conference. Without knowing what I was getting into, I said I would ask my employer if I could give the presentation. The company not only let me go, but also agreed to pay for the trip.
Having never been to DAC before, it was an overwhelming experience going there by myself, especially giving the presentation on a big stage. I recall the presentation material was on glass slides so there were no last minute updates like we do today. The worst part of the presentation was the Q&A, when professors starting asking questions about competing research projects. One audience member wouldn't give up--even though it must have been clear I was a somewhat lost student.
The experience convinced me that I wanted to work in EDA. In those days we used Verilog-XL and Allegro to design CPU boards for the servers, and that software came from some company called Cadence in San Jose. I got my first EDA job at Simulation Technologies in Minneapolis in 1996 after responding to a newspaper ad in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, and I have been attending DAC most every year ever since. It took a number of years to finally land at Cadence, but I have been here since the acquisition of Verisity in 2005.
The only DAC Proceedings I have in my office is the book from 1994. Although I never open it, I know the paper which got me started in a career in EDA is in there. Today, the book serves as a monitor stand, and on difficult days it reminds me how I got myself into this exciting mess we call EDA.
It would be great to hear your reflections on DAC history.
Last year (2012) was my first time to DAC. I should also admit that it was my first convention of any kind. While overwhelming, there was still this sense of energy and excitement about a field that so many people are not even aware of. In my social circles I give the most vague explanation of what I do since most would not have a clue and it would take so long to explain. But at DAC everyone gets it and there is something very welcoming about that. I recall the volume being a big part of that "energy" at DAC. I was giving Virtual System Platform demonstrations in the Cadence demo suites. I quickly realized the downside to the demo suites having no ceiling. I was prepared for presentation, but I was not quite prepared to present the material by yelling. I was so hoarse after the first day I was not sure how I was going to do it for two more days! But I did and it got easier and things settled down. The first day is probably always the loudest. Happy 50th DAC! I hope it is fun for all!