|Industry||EDA, Printed circuit board, FPGA, Embedded Systems|
San Diego United States,
|Products||Altium Designer, Vault, CircuitStudio, CircuitMaker, TASKING, Octopart, Ciiva, Upverter|
|Revenue||US $100 M (FY 2016)|
Altium Limited (formerly known as Protel) is an Australian owned public software company that provides PC-based electronics design software for engineers who design printed circuit boards. Founded in Tasmania, Australia in 1985, Altium now has regional headquarters in Australia, China, United States, Europe, and Japan, with resellers in all other major markets. The company was known as "Protel" until 2001.
Nicholas Martin, an electronics designer working at the University of Tasmania in the 1980s, recognized that the tools then available limited the ability to design printed circuit boards, either through a difficult manual process, or by requiring high-priced software that required expensive mainframe computers. With the development of the personal computer, Martin saw an opportunity to make the design of electronics product affordable, by marrying the techniques of electronics design to the PC platform. In 1985 he founded Protel, launching the company's first product later that same year — a DOS-based printed circuit board (PCB) layout and design tool.
In August 1999, Altium was listed as a public company (ASX:ALU) to assist in funding of strategic technology development and acquisition. The company continued to develop and release new versions of this design tool, following Protel for Windows, the world's first Microsoft Windows-based PCB design system.
Protel's headquarters resided in Hobart, TAS, Australia until 1990 when Nick Martin decided to move the company to California's Silicon Valley, which was proving to be a hot spot for technology companies. In 1994, he moved operations back to Sydney, followed by the successful IPO in August 1999. After a number of strategic technology and company acquisitions (see below), the company changed its name to Altium in 2001. Through various acquisitions Altium has maintained a significant presence in the United States, Europe and Asia. In 2011, Altium announced it would be expanding its presence in Shanghai, China in the second half of 2011 to take advantage of lower wages. The company will remain an Australian headquartered company and will continue to be listed on the Australian stock exchange, with a major administration presence in Sydney. Development continues to be a global effort, with product development staff in United States, Ukraine, Australia and the Netherlands.
On October 15, 2012, the Altium board removed Nick Martin as CEO and named executive vice chairman Kayvan Oboudiyat to replace him. On October 23, 2012, Martin called for a general board meeting and disclosed he planned an attempt to oust four directors, including Oboudiyat. Briefly afterwards Martin called off the meeting and conceded that the company should continue on without belligerence.
On January 16, 2014, Altium announced Kayvan Oboudiyat's retirement and succession by Aram Mirkazemi as CEO. In May of the same year, Altium announced that the core R&D operations for its flagship PCB CAD tools would again relocate in a "cost neutral" move to San Diego, California. This move is proposed in order for the development and senior management to be closer to the North American user base in an effort to maintain customer centricity for PCB CAD tools. Key hardware design services and Internet of Things (IoT) development teams remain in Shanghai, to better service customers and business partners in China; again reflecting a commitment to what the customers in each region need most.
In 1998, while still doing business as Protel, the company acquired Accolade Design Automation, founded by Dr. David Pellerin, co-author of VHDL Made Easy!
In 2000, while still doing business as Protel, the company acquired Accel, a San Diego-based EDA software developer.
Altium acquired Tasking in 2001 for A$73.4 million, a supplier of embedded software design technology that was integrated into Altium's product offerings to create a complete electronics design system.
In 2002, Altium acquired Hoschar AG, the largest EDA software distributor in Europe, which formed Altium's European regional headquarters in Karlsruhe, Germany.
In 2010, Altium acquired Morfik Technology Pty Ltd., a developer of visual design tools for engineering and deploying cloud-based software applications.
In 2016, Altium acquired Perception Software, a provider of enterprise PLM integration solutions.
Other strategic acquisitions Protel / Altium has acquired several technologies and related companies throughout the company's history, including:
- NeuroCAD (hence, the NeuroRoute autorouter and its algorithms)
- INCASES Engineering GmbH (Acquisition of Signal Integrity Simulation source code)
- MicroCode Inc.
- Green Mountain (VHDL simulation software source code)
- Metamor Inc.
- Innovative CAD Software Inc.
Unifying electronics design
In the mid-1990s, the industry was moving towards the use of newly-affordable technologies such as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) instead of individual components fixed to a PCB, but the design tools used for PCBs and those used for programmable logic systems were markedly different and the difference was becoming an obstacle to electronics design.
To counter the limitations imposed by separate stand-alone design tools or domain specific tool-chains, the company began developing a unified electronics design system, which uses a single data model to hold all of the design data required to create a product. FPGA, PCB and embedded software development processes were unified with a common project view and data model. A variety of editing tools could then be used to access and manipulate the design, covering areas such as board layout and design, schematic capture, routing (EDA), testing, analysis and FPGA design.
In the second half of the 1990s, the company began acquisition of various companies with the technologies needed to create a unified electronics design solution. In 1999 it listed on the Australian Securities Exchange to generate the capital to conclude these acquisitions, and in 2001, the company changed its name to Altium, to distinguish its products from the earlier Protel PCB layout solutions.
Due to the limitations of existing software platforms, Altium created its own platform called Design Explorer (DXP), hosted on Microsoft's Windows operating system, which formed the foundation of the Altium Designer product. The first version was released in 2004, with major new releases in 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009.
In September 2010, Altium announced the pending acquisition of Morfik Technology, a provider of cloud-based software applications, in an all-stock transaction worth an estimated A$3.3 million. The move signaled the company's expectations that cloud technology will pervade future electronic and embedded systems. The deal was completed in November 2010. Morfik's founders originally worked for Altium/Protel before leaving to found the company after Altium's IPO.
- Altium Designer – unified electronics design solution with schematic capture
- AltiumLive – the cloud-based community that connects Altium designers, collaborators, suppliers, manufacturers and customers.
- Altium Vaults – Formal release, re-use and design data management server software.
- PDN Analyzer - analyze Power Distribution Network (PDN) voltage (AC only) and current performance
- CircuitMaker – free PCB design tool targeted at students, hobbyists, hackers and makers.
- NanoBoard – reconfigurable hardware development platform.
- TASKING – An embedded systems software development tool.
- P-CAD - Obtained through AccelEDA acquisition, retired in 2006.
- Autotrax/Easytrax - The original Protel PCB design software for DOS.
- List of EDA companies
- Electronic engineering
- Embedded Systems
- Printed circuit board (PCB)
- List of companies of Australia
- Nick Martin Executive Focus, February 1, 2005 , Kevin Morris, FPGA and Programmable Logic Journal
- Tomorrow's world: the Australian initiative. North Sydney: Associated Publishing Corporation (APC). 1995. ISBN 0-646-25348-4.
- Altium to Relocate its Global Headquarters to Shanghai, China
- End of an era - Martin out of Altium
- Martin's response to Altium Board
- Kayvan Oboudiyat announces retirement
- Altium to relocate HQ to USA
- Pellerin, David (1996). VHDL Made Easy!. Duvall, WA: Prentice Hall. p. 432. ISBN 0136507638.
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- Drysdale, Chelsey (2015-11-12). "Altium Releases Designer 16 PCB Design Tool". Printed Circuit Design & Fab. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
- Morris, Kevin (2010-12-14). "Head in the Clouds. Altium Leads Another Design Tool Revolution". Electronic Engineering Journal. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
- Maxfield, Clive (2008-07-07). "Software focus drives Altium's ambition". EDA DesignLine. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
- Maxfield, Clive (2008-02-05). "Altium launch Innovation Station featuring the Desktop NanoBoard". Programmable Logic DesignLine. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
- Morris, Kevin (2007-11-27). "Altium Goes 3D - Board Design Can Be Fun". FPGA & Structured ASIC Journal. Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
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