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A Short Look At AMD History

From Small Startup to an Industry Leader: AMD Stock Trends Show the Story

AMD history is a technology development story: from their 1969 startup to shipping the 500 millionth x86 processor in 2009. The history includes milestones like the development and launch of processors for IBM, their competition (primarily Intel vs AMD), the release of the AMD 2800 processor and the series of Athlon processors (which were received well by reviewers in AMD processor comparisons), and more.

AMD history began in 1969, right around the same time that Intel came into being. It was founded by a group of former executives from Fairchild Semiconductor led by Jerry Sanders.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) initially began as an alternate source of chips. They would receive products from companies such as Fairchild and National Semiconductor and redesign them for greater efficiency and speed. This included making the chips conform to U.S. Military specifications.

This gave AMD quite an advantage, and a reputation as a company that produced quality products. This was important, as at the time, most companies were producing very unreliable chips.

AMD History

AMD Goes Public: AMD Stock

In 1972 AMD went public bringing in over $7 million with its initial offering. This gave them the capital they needed to start their first manufacturing plant in Malaysia. By the end of 1974, AMD employed over 1500 employees and was producing over 200 products. They were bringing in over $27 Million per year.

In 1975, they received another large cash infusion from Siemens, a large West German firm that wanted to establish themselves in the United States semiconductor market. Then, in 1976 they signed a cross-license agreement with Intel.

This was a huge period of growth in AMD history. They topped the $100 Million mark in 1978, and went public: AMD stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1979 under the ticker AMD. They also built the first of many large production facilities in Texas in 1979.


AMD History In The 80's

The early 80s were significant for AMD. By the end of 1981, AMD had more than doubled its sales over 1979. Their Texas facility was expanded and another was built in San Antonio. Their chips went into space in 1981 aboard the shuttle Columbia and in 1982 AMD signed a contract with Intel, becoming a second source for the 8086 and 8088 processors.

This allowed them to sell to IBM who required at least 2 sources for their product. However, eventually their relationship with Intel broke apart.

The mid 80s continued the boom in AMD history, at least at the start. In 1984, they made the list of the top 100 companies to work for in America, and in 1985 they made it onto Forbes Fortune 500 list. 1985 also saw AMD's sales reach one of the highest points in the company's history.

Up to this point, the majority of sales were made in the memory sector. In 1986 that all changed. The Japanese semiconductor companies took over control of the memory markets, which limited the demand for AMD's chips.

A change was needed. Finding new ways to compete led AMD to microprocessors that were compatible with IBM computers, network and communication chips, programmable logic devices, and the high end memory market. AMD became the dominant supplier of flash, networking, programmable logic chips, and telecommunications.


AMD History in the 90's

Intel vs AMD: in 1991, AMD broke the monopoly that Intel held in the CPU market, by introducing the Am386 chip. Within 7 months they had shipped over 1 million chips. In 1993 they introduced the first of their line of Am486 processors, and also entered into a joint venture with Fujitsu to produce flash memory, what are now known as flash drives.

In 1994 AMD entered into a long term agreement with Compaq computers to supply their 486 line of chips for Compaq computers. They also finished their new headquarters building in Sunnyvale California, and finalized their long running lawsuit against Intel. However, the late 90s were a difficult time for AMD.

Intel had the microprocessor market cornered, and Microsoft had the software market well in hand. However, AMD persevered and rolled out their first home-built x86 processor, the K5.


The Ongoing Battle

AMD continued to battle Intel with their K5 and later lines, but really didn't make a dent until 2000 with the release of the Athlon line of processors.

AMD processor comparisons by market reviewers were showing AMD gaining on their competition (the AMD 2800 processor was particularly well received).

At the time Intel was releasing the Pentium 3, running at around 600 MHz, the Athlon matched the Pentium in speed, and doubled the front side bus. This allowed AMD to get into the lower end market as well, with the Duron processor that competed with Intel's Celeron.

AMD has continued to battle Intel through today; it's demonstrated resilience and adaptability (as have many other tech companies) in the face of fast-changing and highly competitive markets. With Athlon X2, the Athlon 64 Dual-Core, Phenom and Semperon lines, they are working hard to compete effectively in the marketplace. They continue to offer consumers a choice in CPU's, and competition for Intel.


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