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DAC 2013 at 50: EDA Memories and Moments

Comments(1)Filed under: EDA, DAC, Cadence CEO, Design Automation Conference, semiconductors, DAC 2013, electronics, Kathryn Kranen, Wally Rhines, Gary Smith, Mentor Graphics, Jim Hogan, Xilinx

AUSTIN, Texas--The just-concluded 50th Design Automation Conference offered the usual robust exhibits and technical sessions, but this year for the big anniversary it also served as part museum of relics and part memories vault.

A stand set up near the registration area had posters, books, t-shirts, give-aways, and other memorabilia from DACs going back to the original in 1964 (the red-leather bound proceedings from the inaugural event sat on a table).

A really nice touch, though, were cardboard posters, distributed throughout the convention center, that highlighted memories of DACs gone by from the famous and not-so-famous.

A sampling:

Romance in the air

EDA analyst Gary Smith and his now-wife, Lori-Kate (pictured nearby), decided at the 2003 event (the published poster date was incorrect) that after 352 days of "non-dating" that it was OK to officially date. Gary was going to tell Peggy Aycinena the good news at a DAC party, but a glass of Ouzo got in the way and he lost the chance to spread the news there. 

Similarly, Jasper CEO Kathryn Kranen's husband Kevin proposed to her one morning during the Las Vegas DAC in 1996.

Missed DACs and leg casts

Mentor CEO Wally Rhines' most memorable DAC was 1982--one he didn't attend. He didn't get there because Texas Instruments, where he worked, underwent a major reorganization that found him managing the company's entire Design Automation Division. For Rhines, it was a sweet victory as he'd battled with that group for some time.

Jim Hogan remembered the second day of a Dallas DAC, working for Cadence. John Gianni was poised to do a full day of Virtuoso demos but broke both his legs running in the morning. Undaunted, Gianni--fitted with casts to his pelvic bone and given ample pain medication--plopped into a rolling chair and did his demos that day.

Ducked back into a bar door

Dyson Wilkes from Akya Ltd. recalled the 1999 DAC when he was caught in a torrential storm on the way to a vendor party. "The rain was so heavy it bounced back up at me from the ground!" he recalled. "I was forced to take shelter in the nearest bar..."

Steve Trimberger from Xilinx gave a presentation at 1980s-era DAC. The session started a little late and by then a cocktail party started outside the room. He realized he couldn't compete with the festivities outside, so he wrapped up his presentation and joined the revelers.

"I never forgot that DAC was as much about personal networking as it was about formal presentations," he recalled.

From my perspective, I've been to about 20 DACs, all, save for this year, for EE Times. It starting with Anaheim in '92 when, for some reason, the hotel shower set off the fire alarm in my room. That DAC was about producing a print "show daily" based on the day's keynotes and sessions. By 2011 and 2012 (San Diego and San Francisco), we had morphed that coverage into live-streaming video programming from the show floor.

I'll never forget: 

  • Joe Costello's famous dog-food speech (who can??)
  • The KVO PR team doing a hilarious skit featuring all the Big 3 CEOs in a political election context
  • Richard Goeing and I breaking a major company-acquisition story at the San Diego DAC in 1997 with exclusive video programming as part of our coverage
  • My old boss, Richard Wallace, and I, hosting a staff dinner at the Anaheim White House on the lawn, and seeing Rhines and Mentor's management team presenting to one of the foundries inside the restaurant through an accessible open window. We snuck up, popped our heads in the windows with big smiles and notebooks at the ready, and said, "Hey Wally, what's the news?"

And, like Xilinx's Trimberger, I'll never forget that DAC is as much about technology as it is about relationships.

So there's a sampling of memories. What are your favorite memories of DACs gone by? (I already know one of David Thon's favorites).

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