Atmel and other things turning 30 in 2014

The big 3-0. Can you believe it? It seems like yesterday, we were focusing on non-volatile memories and inventing EEPROM. And now, we’re looking back in the rearview mirror over the past 30 years as gaze ahead towards the constantly-connected era, better known as the the Internet of Things.

Ah, 1984. A period when our company was just being founded, Prince was turning the silver screen purple, the first Mac was hitting our desks, and Kevin Bacon was helping a small town get its groove back. Safe to say, if you’re turning 30 this year, you’re in good company… here’s some proof.



Russian programmer Alexey Pajitnov released the first version of the game — which featured seven tetrominos descending from the top of a the screen to form a puzzle stack at the bottom — on June 6, 1984. The game would go on to become insanely popular and… addicting.

The Mac


Steve Jobs introduced the original Macintosh computer on January 24, 1984. At the time, the model (which would later be renamed to “Macintosh 128k”) was the first mass-market PC featuring an integralgraphical user interface and mouse.



Michael Dell created PC’s Limited while a student at the University of Texas on February 1, 1984. Originally, he sold IBM PC-compatible computers built from stock components out of his dorm room, before eventually dropping out to focus full-time on his fledging business.

3D Printing


In 1984, Chuck Hull of 3D Systems Corporation invented stereolithography, a printing process that enabled a tangible 3D object to be created from digital data. The technology is used to create a 3D model from a picture and enables users to test a design before investing in a larger manufacturing program. Today, a number of Atmel MCUs (including AVR XMEGAmegaAVR and Atmel | SMART SAM3X8E) are used to power these next-gen devices, all inspired by Hull.

IBM Portable


IBM introduced its Portable Personal Computer 5515 model 68 in February 1984, shortly after the success of Compaq’s suitcase-sized portable machine. At the time, the computer weighed 30 pounds — certainly not “mobile” by today’s standards. The Portable was eventually replaced by the IBM Convertible.

Mark Zuckerberg


We wouldn’t be sharing this blog on Facebook if the founder of the iconic social channel wasn’t born on May 14, 1984.

HP LaserJet


The world’s first desktop laser printer for IBM-compatible PCs was introduced in May 1984. It was a 300-dpi, 8 ppm printer that sold for just under $3,500.

Cisco Systems

FILE PHOTO  Cisco Systems Inc. Expected To Post Second Quarter Profits

Networking equipment company Cisco was founded in December of 1984 by two members of Stanford University’s computer support staff. The phenomenal growth of the Internet in the mid-to-late ’90s quickly changed the telecom landscape. Eventually, the company would go on to become evangelists of the “Internet of Everything.”

Computer Viruses


University of Southern California professor Fred Cohen published a paper entitled “Computer Virus—Theory and Experiments,” where he warned about and shared the first definition of computer viruses.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


The TMNT first appeared in an American comic book published by Mirage Studios in May of 1984 in Dover, New Hampshire. The pizza-eating, crime-fighting ninjas were the brainturtles of artists Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, who in true Maker fashion, started a tiny publishing company out of Laird’s living room.

Legal Taping of TV Shows


The Supreme Court decided a crucial case in January of 1984. Known as the “Betamax Case,” the court considered whether home VCR users could legally record TV shows for the purpose of watching them later, a practice known as “time-shifting.”

The Declaration of “National Ice Cream Month”


I scream, you scram, we all scream ‘thanks’ to President Ronald Reagan, who proclaimed July 15, 1984 as the first “National Ice Cream Day.” From there on, the Congress designated July as “National Ice Cream Month.”

“Where’s the Beef?”

Who could ever forget those Wendy’s ads, right? “Where’s the beef?” quickly emerged as a catchphrase throughout the United States and Canada, originating as a slogan for the fast food chain.

TED Conferences


Born in 1984 out of Richard Saul Wurman’s observation of a powerful convergence of technology, entertainment and design. The first TED included a demo of the compact disc, the e-book and cutting-edge 3D graphics from Lucasfilm, while mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot demonstrated how to map coastlines using his developing theory of fractal geometry. At the time, it was a one-off event held in Monterey, California, organized by Wurman himself.



The Transformers TV show, which made its debut in the U.S. on September 17, 1984. was inspired by the Japanese towline Microman. Transformers shortly thereafter rolled out its own figurines after Hasbro bought distribution rights for the Microman toy molds from Japanese company Takara.

“Baby Bell” Telephone System


Led by the Bell Telephone Company and subsequently by AT&T, the Bell System was a system of companies which provided telephone services to a majority of North America from 1877 to 1984. In 1984, the system was broken up into seven independent companies by a U.S. Justice Department mandate, which became known as the “Baby Bells.”

This is Spinal Tap


Directed by Rob Reiner, the breakthrough mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap” was released on March 2, 1984. The film, which would go on to become a cult classic, chronicled the fictional comeback tour of British heavy metal group Spinal Tap.

What is the Trebek Era of JEOPARDY!


Alex Trebek has hosted nearly 7,000 episodes of JEOPARDYsince its syndicated debut on September 10, 1984. Over the past 30 years, he has become one of TV’s most enduring and iconic figures, engaging millions of viewers worldwide with his impeccable delivery of “answers and questions.”

MTV’s Video Music Awards


Long before the days of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Usher, MTV launched its first Video Music Awards (commonly referred to as “The VMAS”) on September 14, 1984. The event, which was hosted by Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler at the Radio City Music Hall, honored the best music videos from May 2, 1983, to May 2, 1984 — an era when the channel actually aired videos!

The Print Shop


Brøderbund’s Software Inc.s’ publishing package The Print Shop epitomized the 1980s computing, enabling users to make cards, signs, and even banners. Before printing, it showed a colorful “THINKING” screen as it computed the graphics necessary to print.

The Moon Treaty


The Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies is an international treaty that turns jurisdiction of all celestial bodies (including the orbits around such bodies) over to the international community. The treaty was finalized in 1979 and entered into force for the ratifying parties in 1984. As a follow-on to the Outer Space Treaty, the Moon Treaty intended to establish a regime for the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies similar to the one established for the sea floor in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Canadians in Space


One of the first country’s first astronauts, Marc Garneau became the first Canadian in outer space in October 1984.

Virgin Atlantic Airways


Virgin Atlantic’s maiden flight from Gatwick to Newark Liberty International Airport took place on June 22, 1984.

Space Shuttle Discovery’s Maiden Voyage


Space Shuttle Discovery was one of the three orbiters of NASA’s Space Shuttle program and the third of five built. The shuttle’s maiden voyage occurred on August 30 through September 5, 1984. Over 27 years of service, it would go on to launch and land 39 times, gathering more flight time than any other spacecraft to date.



“Who you gonna call?” The iconic science fantasy comedy — starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis as three eccentric parapsychologists in New York City who start a ghost-catching business — made its box office debut June 8, 1984.

The Terminator


On May 12, 1984, two beings from the year 2029 arrive in Los Angeles: one is a Terminator T-800 Model 101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a cyborg assassin programmed to kill a woman named Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton); the other is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a human resistance fighter sent to protect her.

The Karate Kid


Released on June 22, 1984, The Karate Kid was an American martial arts romantic drama film starring Ralph Macchio, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita and Elisabeth Shue. The flick was an underdog story in the mold of previous success, Rocky.



Who could ever forget June 8, 1984? Not only was it the day Ghostbusters made its debut, but it was the day a boy inadvertently broke three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashed a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.

Revenge of the Nerds


Revenge of the Nerds was an American comedy film highlighting the social life on a college campus. The flick, which starred Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards, made its premiere on July 20, 1984.

Bruce Springsteen “Born in the USA”


Plain white t-shirt, check. Jeans, check. Red hat in the back pocket, check. This summer anthem was released on June 4, 1984.

Cirque du Soleil


Before becoming an incredibly popular mix of circus arts and street entertainment (and certainly long before the days of synchronized dancing drones), Cirque du Soleil was conceived with the assistance of the Quebec government, as part of the celebrations surrounding the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier’s arrival in Canada. The first production, Le Grand Tour debuted in the small Quebec town of Gaspé, and was later performed in 10 other cities throughout the province. The first blue-and-yellow big top seats 800, much smaller than its sold-out venues today.



“Whatcha gonna do, brother?” Hulkamania was officially coined on January 7, 1984.

Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary Pass


November 23, 1984: A day that will forever live in sports history. What has since been dubbed “The Hail Flutie Game” was a college football game between the Boston College Eagles and University of Miami Hurricanes. The game is most notable for a last-second Hail Mary pass from quarterback Doug Flutie to wide receiver Gerard Phelan to give Boston College the win.

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