PSoC had its seeds with a Seattle startup making programmable clocks founded by serial entrepreneur John Torode. After Cypress acquired the startup, Torode and his team came up with a programmable USB chip that put Cypress on a course to be the leader in USB controllers with sales of a billion devices.
Not content with creating what was to become a new Cypress division, Torode’s team took another step.
“They realized they could generalize the MCU they used to make a programmable USB chip,” said Rodgers. “They came to me with a business plan that showed how six programmable chips could replace the 5,000-part catalog of 8-bit chips at the competition,” he said.
The company initially aimed to keep the programmable tools in house as its method for quickly creating a broad product portfolio.
“Our idea was we would program the parts ourselves and ship standard products,” Rodgers recalled. “But when our customers found out they could program the chips themselves in an afternoon they didn’t want us in the loop, so we had to develop the software tools for them—and that development effort was significant,” he said.
Today Torode, a long time pilot, runs his own avionics startup. Meanwhile Cypress created a virtual conference around PSoC attended last year by 15,000 engineers. It also has donated development kits to 793 schools and colleges that use them in 902 courses.
PSoC also hopped on the Apple bandwagon. Rodgers paid two or three engineers to work for a year boiling down to a PSoC library element an 800-page specification for how to work with Apple’s iOS products.
So far, garage developers have created PSoC-based peripherals that turn an iPad or iPhone into a “poor man’s oscilloscope,” a blood glucose meter and digital audio mixing board. “The number one app by far for this has been music,” Rodgers said.
An engineer at heart, Rodgers used the PSoC chips to create a digital wine fermenting system for his avocation as a wine maker.
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