60 years of electronics through the eyes of EDN

-September 09, 2016

It's 1956. Korea is finally quiet. Elvis is king. Texas Instruments has started producing the first silicon transistors to challenge the prevailing germanium products. Shockley Labs has set up shop in what will become known as Silicon Valley, and a team of Army scientists has patented a way of creating electronic circuitry by etching the patterns printed on a copper-clad board. It's the beginning of a new era in electronics and of a new industry publication.

Rogers Publishing released the first issue of Electrical Design News in May that year. Despite the presence of "news" in the title, it is not a newspaper. It is an informative and educational compendium of new product information, technology analysis, and design instruction. EDN is born.

 EDN's first issue

The timing was perfect. The industry was poised for decades of explosive growth and sweeping technology changes. Transistors were already beginning to supplant tubes when, within a few years of EDN's debut, the integrated circuit was created.

 The first IC (Source: Texas Instruments)

By 1960 printed circuits had attained four layers. Commercial integrated logic circuits in DTL and TTL began to appear. New devices such as dynamic RAM emerged from the laboratory, and even the analog circuits began to show up in integrated form. The first monolithic operational amplifier came out of Fairchild in 1963. Cahners publishing acquired EDN, and continued not only to keep engineers up do date on developments in the industry, but was also offering design tips so engineers could start to apply these new technologies.

Early EDN design tips

During the '60s, the seeds of a new industry began to take root, supplanting the prevailing approaches. Semiconductor memory started to replace magnetic cores in computer systems. Program storage switched from paper tape to the PROM. And the new MOS semiconductor process got folks wondering if it would ever be good for anything. Integrated logic devices containing dozens of gates became widely available, and Gordon Moore of Intel predicted the doubling of IC density every 18 months for the next decade.

EDN's editorial staff filled with experts -- experienced design engineers who could offer insights based on hands-on experience. The publication offered prescient opinions on all aspects of the industry, inluding the importance of nascent technologies such as computer-aided design (EDA).

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