PC/104: A fresh look in its 25th year

Let’s take a moment to recall the significance of 1987 – thirty years ago. You may immediately think, “Yes. 1987. A fantastic year for the birth of tennis stars: Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, and Sara Errani were all born in ’87.” But I imagine your second thought is about PC/104, right? Well, it could be if you know your PC/104 history: 1987 marks the year that Ampro introduced the Little Board/PC single-board computer – one of the earliest seeds of the PC/104 ecosystem. Early collaborators such as Real Time Devices (now RTD Embedded Technologies) and Diamond Systems began developing compatible products as interest grew in the modular building block concept. By 1989, an innovative plug-in mezzanine concept was introduced; it was perhaps the first look at a stackable bus structure that could eliminate the need for a backplane. As the form and function of the 3.775-inch by 3.550-inch stackable PC architecture began to take shape, Ampro made the industry-changing decision to spin its proprietary form factor into an open standard. In 1992, twelve trailblazing companies would join together to establish the PC/104 specification and the consortium that bears its name. Stackable expansion buses, corner mounting holes, and a compact footprint proved to be a winning combination which quickly found popularity among embedded system designers. (Note: Many thanks to Rick Lehrbaum for his previous publications chronicling the early history of PC/104.)

In the 25 years since the Consortium’s founding, the PC/104 stackable architecture has successfully evolved to support advances in signal technologies and growth in silicon availability. Today, PC/104 is a thriving ecosystem supporting some of the most exciting embedded military, aerospace, industrial, medical, transportation, communications, and security applications. With specifications based on stackable ISA, PCI, and PCI Express buses, there is very little on the front lines of embedded computing that PC/104 does not address. Our member companies manufacture products which enable leading-edge technologies around the globe, while also supporting decades-old infrastructure.

While the capabilities of the PC/104 architecture have expanded and adapted over time, the Consortium’s branding has not always kept pace. That is, until now: This year, the PC/104 Consortium is launching a newly redesigned logo. It’s a fresh message to correspond with the continued evolution of the PC/104 specifications and the steady expansion of the PC/104 ecosystem.

As stewards of the PC/104 specifications, and developers of future stackable standards, the Consortium leadership felt that the organization’s visual identity needed to better reflect the innovative spirit and forward-thinking technologies of its member companies and the PC/104 specifications it promotes.

PC/104 systems support a vast network of embedded applications across the globe, and the Consortium’s well-crafted standards have positioned our members for continued, sustainable growth. Visit the Consortium exhibit and many of our member companies this March at embedded world in Nuremberg, Germany. Look for a wide variety of embedded products and innovative solutions based on the latest PCIe/104, PCIe/104 OneBank, and PCI/104-Express specifications, as well as those in PC/104, PC/104-Plus, PCI-104, EPIC, EPIC Express, EBX, and EBX Express.

As always, keep up with the latest PC/104 products, news, and specification updates at www.pc104.org.