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The period 1986 - 1990:
from CALMA via CADNETIX to DAZIX

In the beginning of the seventies, the Physics Laboratory TNO started with computer assisted means for the design and realisation of electronic designs and the lay-out of printed circuit boards (CALMA-system). Between 1984 and 1986 the Laboratory reserved a large amount of money to replace these Electronic Computer Aided Engineering (ECAE)-facilities.

CALMA configuration
CALMA room with server and work station

The project team "FEL-CAE" proposed to buy CADNETIX-systems. The internal proposal included a large organisational structure. The system experts had to be placed in the then recently started new group System Management and Support (group 2.7) to be a part of the IT-division. In 1987, the first few CADNETIX work stations and server were installed. Their application was circuit design and Printed Circuit Board (PCB)-design. On December 24, 1990, Daisy Systems Inc. took over CADNETIX Inc. which had run into financial problems. The joint company was named DAZIX.

The acquired ECAE-system comprised two CADNETIX (CDX) servers, four CDX work stations distributed over the "open shop", where researchers could make their basic designs, and the "closed shop", where the Printed Circuit Board production was prepared.
The CADNETIX work stations had a MC 86020 processor, a 40 MB disk, 4 MB RAM and ran under the BSD-UNIX operating system. The ECAD systems for the development of Printed Circuits Boards (PCB) used proprietary graphical excellerator cards. For that time, those were fast systems. They were, however, very noisy. For Electronic Computer Aided Engineering (ECAE) purposes a simulator engine was bought. Lacking a symbol library with detailed specifications that could be used by the engine, this functionality was hardly used.
As the first CADNETIX systems were installed before the lab-wide IEEE 802.3 Local Area Netwerk was installed (the FELLAN), a separate Local Area Network segment was installed to connect the CADNETIX systems. Later on, this segment became part of the larger FELLAN when this segment was coupled by using a bridge device.

Later on, CADNETIX Inc. moved from their proprietary platform to the SUN platform. The Laboratory purchased a SUN 3/50 and a SUN 3/60 (MC 86030 processor based systems) for ECAE purposes. Daisy Systems Inc., by the way, used the SUN platform as well to run their electronic design software.
The ECAD work increasinly required more performance. Thus a SUN 3/60 was acquired having an enlarged chassis for accommodating the CDX proprietary graphical excellerator card. Although there were many problems with the software, the user interface was very good and supported the user well in all phases of his electronic design.

To get the software working, which controlled the Excellon drilling machine for the holes in the printed boards and the Gerber {acquired in 1998 by Barco Graphics} and later the SECMAI photo plotter was a real challenge for the system programmers. Output files from the ECAD systems were converted and formatted by means of various filters and tools. Finally, when all problems were sorted out and solved, it was decided to close the internal print production facilities and to outsource all printed circuit board production.



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