TI Home > News Releases

News Releases

National Semiconductor Celebrates 50 Years of Industry Leadership; Launches Sixth Decade Focused on Energy

May 27, 2009

May 27, 2009 – Today, National Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE:NSM) is celebrating its 50th anniversary. National’s story is one intricately woven into the history of the high-tech industry. When the company was founded, computers were the size of buildings, telephones were wired to walls, televisions were boxes filled with tubes and humans had not yet left the earth’s atmosphere. National’s many technological innovations have shaped the industry and left their mark on the world.

National was founded in 1959, the same year the integrated circuit (IC) was created. In 1966, National moved the company’s headquarters to a large plot of land in Santa Clara, California, that was to become known as “Silicon Valley.” Known for its world-class manufacturing and logistics, product reliability, and innovative technology, National has had many notable “industry firsts” in the last 50 years.

The Beginning of the Analog Industry
The analog industry was started by pioneering engineers such as National’s Bob Widlar. In 1967, National developed the first integrated voltage regulator, the LM100. National went on to develop the industry’s first modern operational amplifier (LM101), which is still in use today. National developed the first band-gap voltage reference (LM113) and the first low-dropout (LDO) regulator (LM2930).

Product advancement has always been closely linked to innovation in packaging and fabrication processes. National first developed the Epoxy B molding compound that allowed plastic packaging to block moisture – a packaging leap that was soon adopted by the rest of the industry. National continues to lead the industry in the development of proprietary, analog-specific processes such as VIP (Vertically Integrated PNP) and ABCD (Analog-Bipolar-CMOS-DMOS).

Over time, the analog industry has grown to $37.5 billion in worldwide revenue, driven by some of the industry’s most profitable companies. Many of these companies can trace their histories back to products, packaging technology and processes -- as well as people -- from National Semiconductor.

The Space Race
Growth in the early days of the industry was driven by the Cold War and the Space Race. Robust integrated circuits allowed lightweight payloads to exit the atmosphere and survive in harsh environments. National’s highly reliable products were used in 32 NASA programs, including the Venus probe and the Mars Rover, which is still roving the surface and sending back photos today.

The Era of the Personal Computer (PC)
The PC era drove the next significant growth phase for the industry. In addition to being the first company to develop a full 32-bit microprocessor, National led the industry in the development of mixed-signal interface and communication devices, such as the first 10 Megabit-per-second (Mb/s) Ethernet chips, which were to become the industry’s de facto standard. National also pioneered Low-Voltage Differential Signaling (LVDS), now a worldwide standard interface used in notebook PCs, LCD displays and a wide variety of multi-media applications.

Mobile Devices
The next growth phase for the semiconductor industry was the rapid adoption of cellular phones and other mobile devices. National led the industry with the development of ultra-small packages (SOT23-5, micro SMD and LLP®) used in mobile power, audio, amplifier and interface products. The first true-color mobile displays were enabled by National’s breakthrough white-LED drivers. As users demanded rich audio, National developed Boomer® audio amplifiers providing high-quality sound at low power. National enabled breakthrough products with full-sized, touchscreen displays through its development of the Mobile Pixel Link (MPL) interface and display driver technology. National’s power technology extended the battery life of mobile devices, and National continues to be the market leader in innovative mobile power solutions.

The Energy Era
Today, non-mobile electronic systems faced similar issues with heat dissipation, space constraints and the rising cost of energy. For example, data centers housing thousands of servers grapple with the cost of powering and cooling these energy-hungry systems. While previous generations of systems focused on performance at all costs, the industry is now focused on balancing performance with power consumption. In 2003, National led the way with the development of PowerWise® Adaptive Voltage Scaling (AVS), a technology for intelligently reducing the power consumption of digital systems by up to two-thirds. National continues to lead the industry with the development of its PowerWise® products and subsystems. Turning to the creation of renewable energy and leveraging its strength in analog power management, National has developed SolarMagic™ power optimizers. This new category of product dramatically improves the energy output of solar arrays by intelligently distributing power electronics within solar installations.

Honoring Employee Contributions
As National observes its 50-year anniversary, the company honors the many contributions of its employees in innovative product design, manufacturing, and process and packaging technologies. National continues to celebrate the employee talent and ingenuity developing the next generation of energy-efficient products. Learn more about National’s unique history and exciting future at http://www.national.com/history.

Note to editors: Todownload a high-resolution downloadable photo of National’s 50th anniversary, visit National's photo gallery.

About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor is a leader in analog power management technology. Its products include easy-to-use integrated circuits, PowerWise products that enable more energy-efficient systems, and SolarMagic products which improve the energy output of solar arrays. The company celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., National reported sales of $1.89 billion for fiscal 2008. Additional information is available at www.national.com.