EDAC’s origins

Because I do some consulting for Oasys, I crossed paths with Rick Carlson who is an investor and advisor to them. I hadn’t realized that he was one of the people responsible for getting EDAC going.

In fact, when EDAC started it wasn’t for the whole industry, it was for the smaller EDA companies and actually was called IDAC, for Independent Design Automation Consortium (I’m not quite sure in what way the big companies were “dependent” but it wasn’t a bad name).

It started back in 1987 when Rick was VP sales at EDA Systems (remember them, they did frameworks back when frameworks weren’t called things like OpenAccess) and Dave Millman was at Epic. Almost jokingly they discussed creating an industry consortium before realizing that it was not just a way of passing time over a couple of beers but something that they should actually go out and do.

So they pulled together ten or so small EDA companies into a conference room in San Jose and in 3 or 4 meetings over 6 months started to create IDAC. But they rapidly realized that an industry consortium without the elephants in the living room wasn’t really an industry consortium.

So they pulled together a meeting at the San Jose Jet Center (that Rick’s wife managed, I bet they didn’t pay for the conference room) that was attended by Cadence, Dazix (already drowning), Zycad and others. The first hour didn’t go very well, with nobody really prepared to say anything. Luckily, another of Rick’s investments had been Pete’s Brewing Company and he’d bought along a case of Pete’s Wicked Ale. Time to drink the Kool-Aid, er…beer.

Soon, Joe Costello, as usual, is taking over, laughing and getting everybody rolling. A couple of months later Joe has got everyone there and they are starting to put some substance on what the issues were for EDA as an industry.

But that early promise never really went anywhere. EDAC got hijacked by the marketing managers of each company and took their eye off the big issues. EDAC declined into what it is today: it collects industry data, organizes a few events but doesn’t serve in any real way to raise the consciousness about the big issues affecting EDA as an industry nor doing anything about them.

If you’ve read much of this blog you know that I am very critical of the way that EDA failed to become a strategic partner to its main customers and allowed itself to be pushed down into an expense line in the CAD department budget. The ERP companies like Oracle and SAP manage to extract more dollars from semiconductor companies than does EDA, despite being far less strategically critical. EDAC unfortunately never managed to have any real effect on that.

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