The Future of Instrumentation The Software Revolution

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  • Author: Matthew Friedman
65 years ago Bell Labs forever changed technology with the invention of the transistor. Considered one of the greatest inventions of the twentieth century, it is hard to find an element of our life that has not been impacted by its existence. This of course has had a profound impact on instrumentation as well. Companies like Hewlett-Packard were born from this silicon revolution and their instruments replaced the vacuum tube instruments of General Radio before them. Like 45 years ago, we are now at another crossroads in instrumentation with the software revolution. Just as everyone expects their smartphone to have apps customized to their exact needs, engineers are struggling to make do with fixed functionality instruments. As we stand at the precipice of this new era, we are seeing a fundamental shift as engineers are becoming empowered to make measurements and create test systems specifically suited to their exact needs.