The company went public in March 1995 having been private for 19 years. The company continues to provide a broad mix of software and modular hardware to help engineers design and deploy systems for measurement, automation, and embedded applications.
NI's involvement with Apple in the 1980s and 1990s was an inspiration, said Truchard and through those contacts NI absorbed a bit of their way of looking at the world. "We wanted to do for embedded what the PC did for the desktop," said Truchard.
NI has become a global company during a period when large amounts of manufacturing have migrated to southeast Asia. Is that a concern for Truchard. "How can we compete? One way is better tools," said Truchard referencing what his company provides but acknowledging that NI tools and methods are adopted in the east as well as in the west.
Kodosky points out that National Instruments is involved in education programs which are necessary to raise the number of young people fluent in science, technology, engineering and math. "We work on Lego Mindstorm program," he said. LabView offers abstraction and flexibility which allows it go from kindergarten to beam-line control on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Europe.
What is next for NI and LabView. "RF measurements and software defined radio," said Truchard. LabView is great for parallel processing on heterogeneous platforms. We've knocked that out the park," he said.
But don't the dataflow roots of LabView restrict its utility? Kodosky was quick to defend the graphical language. "It's more general than people think. It is a more fundamental model. We have something that is the programming paradigm of the future."
The over-riding impression is that Truchard and Kodosky are as energetic, enthusiastic and full of plans today as they were when they were launching the company 35 years ago, which promises yet more great things for the future.
James Truchard, CEO of National Instruments, Junko Yoshida, Jeff
Kodosky, business and technology Fellow at National Instruments, and
Mannion. Truchard and Kodosky, who co-founded National Instruments in
1986, were the ACE 2012 Lifetime Achievement winners. Photo: Trish Tunney
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.