Calma Company, based in Sunnyvale, California, was, between 1965 and 1988, a vendor of digitizers and
minicomputer-based graphics systems targeted at the cartographicand electronic, mechanical and architectural design markets.

In the electronic area, the company's best known products were GDS (an abbreviation for "Graphic Data System"), introduced in 1971, and GDS II,introduced in 1978. By the end of the 1970s, Calma systems were installed invirtually every major semiconductor manufacturing company.

The external format of the GDS IIdatabase, known as GDS II Stream Format, became a "de facto" standard forthe interchange of IC mask information. The use of this format persistedinto the 21st century, long after the demise of the GDS II computer system.In the integrated circuit industry jargon of 2008, "GDS II" referred no longerto this nearly-forgotten computer system, but to the format itself. Vendors of
electronic design automation software often use the phrase"from RTL to GDSII" to imply that their system will take users from a high-level logic design to acompleted integrated circuit layout ready for deliveryto the mask vendor.

In the mechanical area, the DDM (for "Design Drafting and Manufacturing") productwas introduced in 1977. It was later extended, under the name "Dimension III", toaddress the archtecture, engineering and construction (AEC) market. By 1983, these two products together accounted for 60% of Calma's revenue. [WEI08] Dimension III continued to be used as late as the late 1990s. []


Calma Company was incorporated in California on November 13, 1963. Its initial business was as a product distributor, continuing the business of a previously existing partnership of the same name. [UT78] The company took its name from its founders, Calvin and Irma Louise Hefte.

In 1965 Calma introduced the Calma Digitizer, a device consisting of a table-like surface with constrained cursor, whereby an operator could enter coordinate data from a paper drawing and have it turned into computer readable form.

In about 1969, the company undertook to develop a minicomputer-based graphics system built around a digitizer. This effort was spurred by the arrival of Josef Sukonick, a recent MIT math Ph. D. who had become aware of the market potential for such a system for integrated circuit (IC) design through his work at the CAD (computer-aided design) group of Fairchild Semiconductor in Sunnyvale, CA. The GDS software system was conceived and, in its initial implementation, almost single-handedly built by Dr. Sukonick. The first GDS system was shipped in late 1971 to Intel.

The growth of sales of GDS paralleled that of the nascent integrated circuit industry. By August 1976 there were 121 GDS systems installed at 70 companies. Of these, 43 were installed outside the U.S. [INT76]

In 1978, Calma, which never had a public stock offering, was acquired by United Telecommunications, Inc., (UTI) of Kansas City, Missouri, for $17 million in stock. Calma became part of UTI's United Computing Systems (UCS) operating unit. UTI took a hands-off approach to managing its acquisition, allowing Calma to continue largely unchanged on its growth path.

In 1978, Calma introduced GDS II (pronounced "G-D-S two"), a modernized replacement for GDS. With its 32-bit database, GDS II met the need for greater capacity and resolution in IC designs. GDS II quickly replaced GDS as the data entry system of choice for many IC design groups. As of late 1980, there were 171 installed GDS II systems. [SCH81]

In December 1980, the sale of Calma by UTI to General Electric (GE) was announced. The sale price was $110 million, with an additional $60 million contingent on Calma's profits over the next five years. The acquisition was completed in April 1981. [BW80,SJM80]

GE had grander designs for Calma than had UTI. In addition to the hope of maintaining dominance in the IC market, GE aimed for Calma to expand in the architectural, engineering, manufacturing and construction markets -- "factory of the future" was a prominent buzzword. Due partly to excessive expectations, partly to the changing nature of the market and the inherent difficulty of keeping up with rapidly changing technology, these ambitions went largely unrealized.

Beginning in 1988, GE sold Calma. The electronic side of the business was sold to Valid Logic Systems in April 1988. (Valid in turn was acquired by Cadence Design Systems in 1991). The remainder of the business (mechanical/architectural) was acquired by Prime Computer in a sale completed in January 1989. [WEI08] Prime had just completed a hostile take-over of Computervision. Prime basically merged the Calma Mechanical and AEC product lines with Computervision. Computervision, including the Dimension III product, was acquired by Parametric Technology Corporation in 1998.

Business and financial

The following data on sales, earnings, and employee count are drawnfrom a number of sources. Financial data 1973-1977 are from [UT78] .

fiscal year net employeeending revenue($) income($) count (date)----------- ------- ------ ------------ 8/31/71 670K [WEI08] (293K) 8/31/72 1.6M [WEI08] 179K 30 (12/72) [BEN73] 8/31/73 3.5M 412K 74 (12/73) [BEN73] 8/31/74 6.1M 562K 92 (9/74) [PH74] 8/31/75 6.9M 398K 8/31/76 9.5M 747K 135 (11/76) [PH76] 8/31/77 14.3M 1.2M 8/31/78 289 (3/78) [UT78] 12/31/79 43M [BIS81] 597 (12/79) [BIS81] 12/31/80 62M [BIS81] 935 (12/80) [BIS81] 12/31/81 105M [SJM82] 1200 (11/81) [SFC81] 12/31/82 1400 (4/82) [SJM82] 12/31/83 210M [WEI08] ...12/31/87 180M [WEI08] (20M) 900 (12/87) [WEI08]

At the time of the 1978 acquisition by UTI, the largest shareholderwas Calma board chairman Ronald D. Cone. He held 321,706 of Calma's635,266 outstanding shares. [UT78]


In February 1977, Computervision (CV) filed suit in federal court over Calma'shiring of a group of 5 employees from CV in San Diego. (This groupdeveloped Calma's DDM product.) The CV suit against Calma and the fiveemployees alleged breach of competition, breach of non-competition agreements,and interference with contractual relations. This draining lawsuit wasfinally settled out of court in October 1979. In the UTI acquisitionof Calma in 1978, 5% of the newly issued stock was held in escrow asa reserve pending the outcome of this litigation. [UT78]


As early as 1970, Calma occupied a building at 707 Kifer Roadin Sunnyvale. Roughly convert|10000|sqft|m2|-2, the building consisted of a largewarehouse/manufacturing area in the rear, with an office area of about 10offices in the front. Somewhat later, an additional building to the rear(on San Gabriel Drive) was leased as a manufacturing/shipping area,bringing total square footage to 35,000.

In February 1978, the company relocated to a convert|67000|sqft|m2|-2|sing=on single-storybuilding at 527 Lakeside Drive inSunnyvale, part of the newly developed Oakmead Village industrial park.

Additional buildings were added as the employee count grew. In 1979, theR&D department moved to a building at 212 Gibraltar Drive (corner ofBorregas Avenue) in the Moffett Park area of Sunnyvale. Other buildings wereadded in the area.

In 1980 a new convert|210000|sqft|m2|-2 manufacturing facility was opened in Milpitas, California. [WEI08]

In 1982 a new convert|109000|sqft|m2|-2|sing=on headquarters was opened in Santa Clara, California. [SJM82]

In 1984 Calma bought a convert|108000|sqft|m2|-2 facility near Dublin, Ireland, that had originally been built for Trilogy Systems. [WEI08]


General description (1978)

The following is quoted from [UT78] :

"Calma's computer-aided design and drafting systems (also referred to asinteractive graphics systems) are comprised of component hardware modules,electronic interfaces, and software programs. Most of the systems soldare constructed by combining available components to meet the requirementsof the customers' specific design or drafting application. Calma's systemsenable customers to automate a wide variety of design and manufacturingprocesses which have previously been performed manually.

"The primary hardware components of a system are a central processing unit,operator stations and plotter outputs.

"The central processing unit consists of a minicomputer, a computer consoleand page printer, a magnetic tape transport and a magnetic disk memory unit.Other optional peripheral devices such as card readers and paper tapepunches are also available. These components are interfaced withCalma-designed and manufactured controllers, and integrated into a singleunit with system software designed and programmed by Calma.

"An operator station consists of a digitizing device, an interactive cathoderay tube (CRT) display unit, coordinate readouts and a keyboard. The maindifference between stations is in the type of digitizing input station used.The Calma digitizer is a backlit 48 by 60 inch table. To digitize analoggraphical data directly on computer-compatible medium, the operator of the digitizer manually traces graphical data with a moveable stylus. The graphic tablethas a smaller surface and is operated with an electromechanical graphicpen.

"The digitizing input station is linked by system software to the CRT display,which allows an almost instantaneous display of any segment of the sourcedrawing or a graphic element from the library. The CRT display also haswindowing and magnification capability.

"An alphanumeric keyboard is used for entering text, scaling information,dimensions and commands, and an optional functional keyboard is availablefor entering frequently used functions, symbols and macro commands.

"The output most commonly used in Calma's systems is a graphic plotter.Calma software supports both on and off-line pen and photo plotting devices.

"Calma's computer-aided design systems are used in a wide variety ofapplications. To date systems have been sold principally to electronicsfirms for use in the design of integrated circuits, printed circuit boardsand electrical schematics; to governmental agencies and public utilitiesfor use in cartographic applications; and to manufacturing companies foruse in the design of mechanical parts and systems."




For an overview of the GDS II system as of 1981, see [SCH81] .


DDM (short for "Design, Drafting, Manufacturing") was a 3-dimensional wireframe computer-aided design application. In the mid-1980s, it was one of the top ten selling CAD packages on the market. As of 2006, DDM continues to be supported by Parametric Technology Corporation [] as "Dimension III".

The General Motors Central Foundry Division (GM-CFD) had applied DDM to the design of castings and tooling for automotive components such as engine blocks, cylinder heads and steering knuckles. DDM was run on Calma's proprietary dual monitor workstation hardware connected to Data General Nova and later Digital VAX 11/780-series computers. GM-CFD had DDM installations in Saginaw, MI, Pontiac, MI, Defiance, OH, Bedford, IN, Danville, IL and Massena, NY.


This section gives thumbnail sketches of people who had significantroles at Calma over the years. This includes managers, key technicalcontributors, and the like, with special emphasis on people who went on toachieve recognition in the EDA industry. The years after each name areyears of employment at Calma.

* John Benbow 1981-1983
*:1981 VP of R&D, previously at Dataskil (UK)
* Robert Benders 1968-1983
*:1968 hired as chief engineer, from Lockheed
*:1971-1983 CEO of Calma
* Enrico F. Biondi
* Lemuel D. Bishop
*:1972 VP of finance
* Arthur J. Collmeyer 1974-1981
*:1969 PhD Southern Methodist University. electrical engineering
*:1974 joined Calma from Xerox as VP of R&D
*:1981 co-founder of Weitek, CEO 1981-1988, Chairman 1992
* Ronald D. Cone
* Michael L. Courtade 1973-1978
*:1974 manager of GDS software development
* Eugene W. Emmerich
*:1977 VP of marketing
* Gerry Devere
*:1976 DDM development team
*:later head of DDM R&D
* Thomas S. Hedges 1973-1984 []
*:1972 BS Caltech engineering
*:1977 member GDS II development team
*:1991 co-founder and chairman of Fractal Design Corp.
*:1997-2000 chief systems architect Metacreations, Inc.
* Calvin Hefte and Irma Louise Hefte
*:Calma's eponymous founders
*:Cal is deceased [HOL90]
*:Irma reported to have been running flower shop with daughters "Carousel of Flowers", Los Gatos, CA [HOL90] ; died 9/27/92 [CC of Death Certificate on file in Santa Clara Co. #537853]
* Andrew Hidalgo 1987-1988
*:eastern regional manager
*:founder & CEO of WPCS International Incorporated
* Harvey C. Jones Jr. 1974-1981
*:hired 1974 as application engineer in Reston, VA office
*:later manned the Boston sales office.
*:1980 named VP of MED (microelectronics division) Business Development
*:1981 co-founded Daisy Systems Corp
*:1987 first CEO of Synopsys (chairman of board 1994-1998)
*:co-founder of Tensilica
* Daniel McGlaughlin
*:PhD EE Case Western Reserve University
*:veteran of IBM, GE
*:president of Calma 1984-1989
*:president and CEO of Equifax 1996-1998
* William Nickels 1973-
*:1973 manager of software development
*:1975 manager of customer support
* Thomas J. Schaefer 1972-1981
*:Math Ph. D. UC Berkeley 1978
*:1977 member GDS II design team
*:VLSI Technology Inc 1981-1990
*:Compass Design Automation 1990-1997
*:Synopsys 1997-2000
* Carl Smith 1973-
*:1977 member GDS II design team
*:Cadence Design Systems
*:Simplex Solutions
* Robert Smuland
*:25-year GE veteran
*:1983-1984 president of Calma
* Roger Sturgeon
*:BSEE & MSEE-CS UC Berkeley
*:1977 head of GDS II design team
*:co-founder of Transcription Enterprises Limited (acquired in 2000 by Numerical Technologies, Inc)
*:2007 overall winner of Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race []
* Josef S. Sukonick
*:1969 PhD MIT math
*:creator of GDS
* Robert Young 1973-
*:1973 manager documentation & training
*:1975 manager of customer support
* Mark Zimmer
*:member GDS II development team
*:1991 co-founder of Fractal Design Corp, CEO 1991-1997In 2002, the industry organization SEMI presented the annual SEMI Award for North America to the team of Roger Sturgeon, Carl Smith, Tom Hedges, Tom Schaefer and Mark Zimmer for their contribution to the GDS II interchange format. []


* [BEN73] Robert Benders, Calma memo dated 12/18/73
* [BIS81] Lemuel D. Bishop, article in the first issue of the yet-to-be-named "Viewport" Calma company employee newsletter, Feb 1981
* [BW80] Business Week 12/22/80, p 22
* [FOR80] Forbes, 9/29/80, p 146 (interview with Paul Henson, chair of UTI)
* [HOL90] Bruce Holloway web post quoted in "Ray Tracing News", vol. 3 no. 4, October 1, 1990.
* [INT76] Calma internal document dated 8/06/76
* [PH74] Calma company phone list dated 9/11/74
* [PH76] Calma company phone list dated 11/17/76
* [SCH81] Thomas J. Schaefer, "GDS-II : An efficient and extensible VLSI design system", IEEE Compcon, Spring 1981, pp. 333-336
* [SFC81] San Francisco Chronicle, 11/04/81
* [SJM80] San Jose Mercury News, 12/09/80
* [SJM82] San Jose Mercury News, 4/19/82, p 3D
* [UT78] United Telecommunications prospectus dated 8/16/78 and Calma Company proxy statement for special shareholder meeting 8/31/78 to approve merger of Calma with UTI
* [WEI08] David E. Weisberg "The Engineering Design Revolution: The People, Companies and Computer Systems That Changed Forever the Practice of Engineering" (2008 - online book) Chapter 11 is devoted to Calma.

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