Tag Archives: Atmel History

Fun facts: 30 years, 1 company, unlimited possibilities

Boy, where has the time gone? Today, December 5, 2014, marks an extremely special day for us here at Atmel — it is the day we turn 30 as a semiconductor company. Founded in 1984, Atmel began as a company focusing on non-volatile memories. At this time, Atmel’s founder George Perlegos made a breakthrough with the invention of electrically erasable programable read-only memory, or EEPROM.


After 30 years of innovation, Atmel has emerged as a leading solutions-based company delivering secure, connected devices in the era of the Internet of Things. Guess you can say we’ve gotten ‘smarter’ with age! While the company’s influence can’t be underestimated when it comes to enabling Makers, designers and engineers alike, how much of its history do you actually know?

Here are a few interesting facts to get you up to speed on Atmel’s backstory!

Atmel = “Advanced Technology for Memory and Logic.”


Atmel changed headquarters and its logo in 2012. (Previous logo shown below.)


Atmel’s leadership in EEPROM and Flash was put to good use when it developed the first-ever Flash-based MCU in 1993, the AT89LP.


Atmel complemented the ARM7TDMI CPU with a unique set of system peripherals to create the world’s first ARM-based MCU.


Atmel’s SAM9 became the world’s first ARM9-based controllers.


The mXT768E was the industry’s first 32-bit single-chip controller for touchscreens up to 12-inches.


Atmel is also credited for creating the automotive industry’s first touchscreen controller supporting shieldless sensors and gloved operation.


The incredibly-popular AVR 8-bit architecture was introduced in 1997. By 2003, Atmel had already shipped over 500 million of the MCUs.


Atmel can be found at the heart of the the first Arduino prototype.


… And in the earliest MakerBot 3D printers.


… Oh, and some of the first DIY drones, too.


Atmel remains at the forefront of the Maker Movement, having been an avid participant in Maker Faires since their onset.


… Including an appearance at this year’s inaugural White House Maker Faire.


At the moment, there are over 160 Kickstarter projects built around Atmel AVR, not to mention its versatile Atmel | SMART ARM-based MCUs. Specifically, more than 60% have been successfully funded, garnering well over $7 million in pledges.


Atmel brought flexy back with the debut of its XSense touch sensors.


Atmel unveiled the first futuristic touch-centric curved automotive console back at CES 2014.


Oh. My. God. Becky, look… Atmel has even rap-battled with Sir Mix-A-Lot.


Atmel’s ATmega32U4 has transformed a number of ordinary objects into touch interfaces.


The ATtiny20 is so small that it can almost fit inside the ball of a ballpoint pen, or balance precariously on the tip of a matchstick.


Talk about driving the IoT! Earlier this year, Atmel packed its latest solutions onto a 40′ x 85′ mobile trailer and hit the open road. To date, the big rig has traveled over 55,000 miles with 10,000 visitors hopping onboard.

So, as we reminisce about our past, we can’t help but look ahead to the next 30 years! In celebration of this joyous occasion, we’re asking our fans, friends and loyal customers to share their favorite memories and show off their Atmel pride! Learn how to get started here!


Video: Vegard Wollan reflects on life and innovation

In the final segment of my interview with AVR microcontroller creator Vegard Wollan, I asked about his background and innovation at Atmel.

In response to my question of how he views his expertise, Vegard noted that he started out as a computer architect and digital designer. It’s simple to see the ease-of-use DNA in the AVR product line when Vegard then noted that he soon saw himself as someone that could make life easy for embedded designers. I think this focus on the customer pervades all of Atmel to this day.


Vegard Wollan reflects on his history of innovation at Atmel.

I went on to ask Vegard what he does in his spare time. His response? Exercising and boating off the beautiful, dramatic Norwegian coastline. I think physical activity is a key thing. In fact, I wish someone had warned me as a young man that engineering has an occupational hazard. You can make a good living sitting at a desk. This was less true when I was an automotive engineer, as I had to go the experimental garage and walk around Ford’s giant complex in Dearborn, Michigan. Nowadays, we all seem chained to a computer, and stuck in a chair all daylong. So, exercise and boating sounds like a great way to stay active and balance our lives a little bit!

As I pictured Vegard sailing around Norway looking at beautiful sunsets, I wondered if that was inspired him to be so innovative. He responded that the primary source of innovation at Atmel is working with a team of creative innovative people. I think this is true in most human endeavors. When I asked my dad why some restaurants had really good service, he noted that good people like to work with other good people. That is why Vegard is spot-on, and quite humble in noting that innovation comes from a team, not any single person.

Want to learn more about the backstory of AVR? You can tune-in to the entire 14-part series here.