I started with MicroSim - the PSpice company back in 1989. We were promoting SPICE on the IBM-PC when everyone else was using workstations and mini-computers. We called it shrink-wrap CAD back then.
In 1989, we were the first company to show a laptop PC running our software. It was a Toshiba with a 640x480 display and an Intel 386 processor running DOS. Positioned on a corner of our booth, it just stopped people in their tracks. They couldn't believe this small package could actually run SPICE and show waveforms. I can't remember the exact price we paid for it but it was at least $5,000 which was REAL money.
Next year, I visited a competitor's booth - MetaSoftware. They had a new waveform viewer they were showing off. The software had been written by a team in India. This was the early days of offshore development. I asked to see one feature in the viewer and when the presenter tried it, the tool immediately crashed. I am ashamed to say I felt quite proud about it.
In those early years, it was always a race between the private demo suites in one hall to the exhibit floor in another. That was fine, since we were much younger back then and we enjoyed the pace. But you couldn't stop and chat with colleagues as you would have liked. We can do that much more easily these days.
A big thank you goes to Peter Denyer who used to be with Sun Computers and would supply all the exhibitors with workstations back in the 90's.
My most recent memory was with Real Intent in San Francisco at last year's 49th DAC. i believe it was an exhibitor first-ever. We had a foosball table for the attendees to play with while we served 'frosty beverages'.
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DAC is the premier conference devoted to the design and automation of electronic systems (EDA), embedded systems and software (ESS), and intellectual property (IP).