When Analog Devices Inc. started looking around for a suitable facility to house its microelectromechanical-systems operation in 1996, it was lucky to find one ready-made in its founding city of Cambridge, Mass.
"The ADI facility was built by Polaroid in 1984-85 to make digital cameras," said consultant Howard Levine at the SemiConn Consulting Group (Stamford, Conn.). "Without Polaroid's pioneering [work in] getting a fab into Cambridge, ADI would never be there."
The building, now retooled for MEMS manufacture, brought ADI back to its roots. The company was founded in Cambridge in 1965 by current chairman Ray Stata and Matthew Lorber, who had been roommates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ADI later relocated its corporate headquarters to Norwood, Mass., where it continues to be based.
Before ADI's MEMS operation set up shop there, MIT had purchased Polaroid's four-story, 120,000-square-foot brown brick building, located at 21 Osborn St. and visible from both Massachusetts Avenue and Albany Street. The location, on a 2.75-acre lot, formed a triangle with MIT's High Voltage Research Laboratory building and its Graphic Arts building.
Today, more than 400 ADI employees work in the refurbished Cambridge facility, fabricating all of ADI's MEMS chips on six-inch wafers (although testing is now also performed at other locations, including third parties such as Amkor of Singapore). Historically, many members of ADI's technical staff have come from nearby MIT.
ADI has several other fabrication facilities in the United States as well as in Limerick, Ireland.