On June 1, 2020, Connect Tech celebrated its 35th year in business. Much more than a corporate anniversary, it’s an anniversary of the determination of friends and a testament to an industry that would defy the odds and solve the insolvable. As we endeavor to celebrate this milestone, we reflect on the history that brought the CTI team together.
Where it all began
Since the IBM PC was based upon open architecture, it spawned an entire industry of suppliers for expansion cards, peripheral devices, and software. One of these companies was Intel, whose big break came when IBM used its microcontroller to run real-time programs locally on IBM computers.
Enter Connect Tech
Connect Tech was founded as IBM PCs were skyrocketing to market domination and Intel’s x86 microcontroller was becoming widely adopted for new technology development. Networking of the day required computer stations to have multiple devices at a workstation; PCs needed to connect to a terminal in order to access the mainframe.
Our first commercially available product was the EMU78 – known as the Emulator.
The Emulator enabled PCs to directly access the mainframe, eliminating the need to house a terminal on your desk.
As the use cases for computers began expanding, the need to connect other devices and inject variable data for processing required more sophisticated peripherals to be developed. We extended our product line by designing Multi-Port Serial Adapters, a range of products designed to collect signals from sensors and other data acquisition devices, or connect the PC to modems and other serial devices.
Standards & Peripheral Extensions
In the late 2000s, the industry standard Qseven for embedded hardware design began to gain momentum. While designing products for this standard, we developed the first board that allowed users to integrate PCI/104-Express technology within Qseven designs.
The battle of size vs power
Nearing the 2000s, the first embedded systems based on Linux began appearing. Today, Linux is one of the most prevalent operating systems used for embedded computing design.
Moore’s Law is a commonly accepted theory where the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. This is the driving theory that helps put a timeline to the price reduction of componentry, capacity for storage and memory, and advancements of data compression and quality for electronics.
Throughout the 2000s and ‘10s, software became more sophisticated, hardware components became smaller, and the battle for function vs size waged war. The emergence of smart phones gave everyone a computer in their pocket, and the concept of connected devices with real-time information became a reality.
Artificial Intelligence Breakthrough
In 2012, a team from University of Toronto won the ImageNet computer image recognition competition by designing a neural network and training it to recognize images by itself. The program beat out software written by several computer vision experts. The AI and deep learning breakthrough came when researchers discovered how deep neural networks could run compute-intensive, high-performance programs by utilizing GPUs during training.
Meeting the Jetsons
As the Internet of Things movement took shape, the expectation of real-time responsiveness showed constraints in physical networking or cloud computing. The need to process data and react in real-time required devices to run programs locally, commonly referred to as Edge Computing. The emergence of System on Modules – small systems that contain a GPU, CPU, and memory – allows for a staggering amount of information to be ingested and processed simultaneously.