A Short History of PCB Design

The death of PADS Software founder Gene Marsh last Friday has prompted me to — at long last — update the PCB design industry timeline on the PCD&F website.

From the 1800s, when photosensitive coatings were perfected, enabling use of photoengraving and setting the stage for future copper etching processes, to the present day, we’ve tried to fill in all the blanks, from the start of companies like Scicards and Racal, who were the pathfinders, to the ingenuity of John Cooper and Dave Chyan, the autorouter specialists, to the rapid merger and acquisition activity that turned almost everyone into a one-time colleague or coworker.

Are there omissions or — gasp! — errors? Most certainly. But that’s where you come in. Please feel free to email me at [email protected] about anything you see that’s amiss. We want this to be complete, and we want it to be accurate.

Remembering Gene Marsh

Gene Marsh, one of the true industry pioneers, has died.

Marsh, as many readers may recall, founded PADS Software, one of the first CAD software developers, in 1977. In fact, he beat Mentor’s, Cadnetix’s and Daisy’s respective founders to the punch by four years. (1981 was a big year for CAD, as it turned out.)

Gene was such a big deal, Printed Circuit Design started an award for software innovation and named it after him.

While Gene has been out of the industry for years, this is still a sad day.