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The company, founded in 1997 by Carver Mead, Richard Lyon, Richard B. Merrill, Richard Turner, Richard Nedwich, and others, was a spin-off of National Semiconductor and Synaptics. The founding directors were: Federico Faggin (president and CEO of Synaptics), Brian Halla (chairman, president/CEO of National Semiconductor), and Dick Sanquini (VP of National Semiconductor).
It is based in Santa Clara, California. Foveon was initially known for their high-end digital portrait camera systems built around a color-separation beam-splitter prism assembly. Later, the X3 pixel sensor became the company's main product. Both the prism system and the X3 technology derive their benefit from using all the light and sensing all colors at all locations.
Foveon was previously known as Foveonics. The name is derived from the fovea of the human eye, which enables sharp imaging while reading or watching television.
George Gilder wrote The Silicon Eye, which tells the story of Foveon and its founders.