Analog Devices DAC soup can from the 1970s

-January 06, 2011

So I am writing a cute editorial about pranks for our April issue. I got talking to Bob Pease and he mentioned getting a soup can as a promotion from Analog Devices 30 years ago. He said his prank was to open up the can, fill it with seaweed, and mail it back to Dan Shiengold or Paul Brokaw over at Analog Devices. The prank was based on the fact the can was an advertisement for ADIs CMOS DACs (digital to analog converters) and Pease included a note: “Here is your sea-moss soup back.”

The sad thing is I check with Paul and Dan and neither can remember getting the can. Now we wonder if it didn’t blow up in the Post office and never got delivered. So I was telling the story to EDN consulting editor Jim Williams and he brightened up about 4000 lumens and said, “I’ve got one of those ADI soup cans.” Well I jumped on the Sportster and drove right over to Linear Tech. I took a few snapshots. Ahhh….the wild and wooly days of the semiconductor business. I wonder if we will ever see promotions like this again. Kudos to Analog Devices and thanks to Jim for letting me take a few snapshots.

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The label is faded from 30 years in Jim’s window office, but you have to love the creativity that went into this CMOS DAC promotion.

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Here is the left side of the can. It mentions that ADI has bipolar DACs to. This is probably still true.

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Here is the right side of the can. Let’s check out the part numbers: AD7533, still in production. AD7542, still in production. AD7541 seem to be out of production, Intersil second sourced it, but that part is obsolete too. AD7524, still in production. AD7523, out of production, same deal, Intersil second-sourced it but that part seems gone too. AD7522, not in production.

Wow, three out of 6 of these parts are still in production, and I suspect the others have pin-for pin cross-references. Way to go ADI, a good part is a good part forever. And if Paul Brokaw designed these DACs 30 years ago, kudos to him too, he must have done a heck of a job if these parts are still around.

[Update, Ron Dammann, senior staff engineer at Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center sent a picture of his soup can from the 1970s and a a mote, “Brings up good memories of fun times in the Valley. Remember the Keithley Digital Multimeter Paperweight?”

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