A Company Takes Shape
Alex d'Arbeloff and Nick DeWolf, the founders of Teradyne, met at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the late 1940s when they lined up alphabetically in an ROTC class. After graduation, Alex and Nick pursued separate careers, getting together again in 1960 with the vision of starting their own company.
Alex and Nick foresaw that testing of electronic components in high-volume production would reach a bottleneck unless the tasks performed by technicians and laboratory instruments could be automated. Their business plan involved of a new breed of "industrial grade" electronic test equipment, known as much for its reliability and economic payback as for its technical performance.
The pair rented space above Joe and Nemo's hot dog stand in downtown Boston. The new venture "had to have a 'D' in it," according to DeWolf, and "'Tera' is the prefix for 10 to the 12th power, while 'dyne' is a unit of force." Thus, Teradyne was conceived. "To us, the name meant rolling a 15,000 ton boulder uphill."d'Arbeloff and DeWolf began to sell a new category of test equipment, aimed at improving efficiency on the production floor, with Teradyne's first product, a logic-controlled go/no-go diode tester named the D133, which was introduced in 1961. Early customers discovered that the results from increased production throughput greatly outweighed the diode tester's cost.
Through the Years
In 1966, Teradyne introduced an integrated circuit tester, the J259. It was the first tester to use a minicomputer to control a series of test steps and it launched the automatic test equipment (ATE) industry.
By the early 1970s, Teradyne's product line-up included ATE dedicated to memory devices and test systems for electronic subassemblies (printed circuit boards and backplanes) and had established itself as a supplier of commercial backplane connection systems. By the end of the decade, Teradyne had an entire division of telecommunications test products, including an automated system for testing telephone subscriber lines.
In the 1980s, Teradyne expanded its subassembly test business by acquiring Zehntel, a leading manufacturer of in-circuit board test systems. In 1987, the company introduced the first analog VLSI test system, the A500, that led the market in the testing of integrated devices that provide the interface between analog and digital data.
The 1990s brought more expansion and diversification. The company acquired Megatest Corporation, a San Jose, California semiconductor test company, and expanded its semiconductor test group to include significantly smaller and less expensive testers than those available at the time. The company also became a market leader in high-end system-on-a-chip (SOC) test with its Catalyst and Tiger test systems.
In 2000, Teradyne Connection Systems acquired Herco Technologies and Synthane-Taylor in California, while in 2001, Teradyne acquired circuit board test and inspection leader GenRad and merged it into the Assembly Test Division. Diagnostic Solutions, which was a division of GenRad that made test equipment for the automotive manufacturing and service industries, became a separate product group for Teradyne.
Teradyne filled out its Semiconductor Test business with the addition of Nextest in January 2008 and Eagle Test Systems in November 2008. Nextest’s products serve the flash memory test market while Eagle Test’s products focus on the high volume analog test market. Also in 2008, Teradyne entered the disk drive test market with the internally developed Neptune product. Neptune serves the growing and data intensive Internet and computing storage markets.
In October 2011 Teradyne acquired privately held LitePoint Corporation, a leading provider of test solutions for wireless products such as laptop PCs, tablets, home networking, and cell phones. With the addition of LitePoint, Teradyne’s product portfolio stretches from wafer test of semiconductor chips through system level circuit boards to complete products ready for consumer purchase.
Today, Teradyne has three major business units--Semiconductor Test, Systems Test, and Wireless Test. Semiconductor Test offers products that cover the full range of memory and system-on-a-chip (SOC) devices for both wafer and package test. The Systems Test Group provides products that test higher level electronic assemblies used in computing, aerospace and defense, home electronics, and data storage. Wireless Test offers solutions to wireless chipset makers and their customers to verify the performance of completed products.
Teradyne celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010 with one of its strongest years ever. The company continues to develop and deliver test solutions that lead the industry in both advanced technology and production economics.
Additional Information can be found in the book Teradyne - The First Forty Years by Frederick Van Veen, a retired Teradyne vice president.