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Who made the first PLD?

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andyhaines
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re: Who made the first PLD?
andyhaines   9/22/2011 7:11:22 PM
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The first commercially successful PLDs were produced by Signetics, although Intersil fielded a product earlier. The Signetics family of devices were developed in 1975 and include a device that was called a field programmable gate array which was the first use of that term prior to Actel's use of the term in 1988. There is an excellent oral history by the original designers of the Signetics devices which can be found on the Computer History Museum site at: hhttp://www.computerhistory.org/collections/accession/102702200. (Full disclosure, I moderated the session.)

MButts
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re: Who made the first PLD?
MButts   9/22/2011 5:29:23 PM
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AMD did acquire MMI in '87. Back then (believe it or not) all chips were expected to have second-source vendors. Wikipedia says AMD spun off MMI as Vantis, which got acquired by Lattice. Xilinx set MMI up as their second source. Somewhere in my basement I have a few AMD chips which are second-sourced Xilinx 2000 and 3000-series FPGAs. These early PALs were key to the Data General VAX-competitor project. Tracy Kidder's Pultizer-prize-winning "The Soul of a New Machine" explains why the PALs were so important to them.

diamondw
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re: Who made the first PLD?
diamondw   9/22/2011 5:12:09 PM
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Ferranti's ULA was implemented in the CDI semiconductor process (which incidentally was licensed from Fairchild). Ferranti developed CDI into a commercial process in the late 60s so it might have been a close race between the Micromosaic and the ULA.

Steve Knapp
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re: Who made the first PLD?
Steve Knapp   9/22/2011 3:47:27 PM
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I'm not sure they were the absolute first, but Signetics (who I think was acquired by Philips) was certainly there in the early days of PLDs with PROMs and PLAs. Somewhere here in the "archive" I think I still have an early Signetics data book.

Max The Magnificent
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re: Who made the first PLD?
Max The Magnificent   9/22/2011 2:03:23 PM
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Dang -- that's usually my first port of call -- I can't think why I didn't go there myself -- Max

M_S
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re: Who made the first PLD?
M_S   9/22/2011 1:54:25 PM
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I had the thought to check what Wikipedia had to say on the subject. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programmable_Logic_Device. Marie

Max The Magnificent
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re: Who made the first PLD?
Max The Magnificent   9/22/2011 1:40:35 PM
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Actually that's a really good point. If a device is mask-programmable then I would tend to place it on the borderline of these discussions... ... I guess my implicit understanding was that when we talk about PLDs we are talking about the ability for the designers to program them in the field -- even if they are one-time programmable (OTP) like fusible links or antifuses...

Max The Magnificent
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re: Who made the first PLD?
Max The Magnificent   9/22/2011 1:37:11 PM
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I'm not sure if this came before or after Ferranti's ULA ... does anyone else know?

Max The Magnificent
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re: Who made the first PLD?
Max The Magnificent   9/22/2011 1:36:41 PM
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Good info about Ferranti and the ULA. FYI, here's a paragraph I just copied from the start of the ASIC chapter in my book "Bebop to the Boolean Boogie": In 1967, Fairchild Semiconductor introduced a device called the Micromosaic, which contained a few hundred transistors. The key feature of the Micromosaic was that the transistors were not initially connected together. Design engineers used a computer program to specify the function they wished the device to perform. This program determined the necessary interconnections required to link the transistors and generated the masks required to complete the device. Although relatively simple, the Micromosaic is credited as being the forerunner of the modern ASIC and the first real application of Computer-Aided Design (CAD).

diamondw
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re: Who made the first PLD?
diamondw   9/22/2011 1:33:26 PM
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Although PLD doesn't include "field" all the other comments seem to assume field programmable devices. The Ferranti devices were metal mask programmable (arrays of gates) - so it depends on "field" being implied or not. But they were definitely programmable because without the metal mask programming they had no inputs or outputs (or power consumption)! They were used in several Christmas season games because Ferranti could go from a logic diagram to a million delivered devices in about a month.

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