EDN predictions for next 60 years

EDN turned 60 years old this year.  Over the years the magazine has made many predictions on the future of the electronics (some of then were pretty right). You can read on some pretty spot-on predictions at 1982 editorial about computer security gets it right and EDN predictions for 2006, 10 years later articles. When the magazine turned 60 years old, they made some bolder long term predictions on the EDN’s 60th Anniversary Collection of articles.

Here I list some selected prediction articles worth to take a look:

60 Years of Design Ideas and EDN: A reminiscence and challenge article tells that it’s no surprise analog circuitry has been a mainstay of Design Ideas for many years. That’s an area still able to engender much creativity. But Design Ideas isn’t just analog. Digital, power, algorithms, FPGA, even IC design, have all featured.

Life as a system designer in 2076 article points out several trends that are seen affecting how system design will operate in 2076. The first is the rise in voice recognition as coupled with the Internet of Things.  Another key trend I see is the rise on computing platforms that all but eliminate hardware development from the creation of embedded systems. Increasing compute power is fueling another trend: virtual prototyping. The rise of open source, both hardware and software, is another key trend.  Another technology trend to watch is 3D printing.

Will there still be PCBs in 60 years? article is wondering how PCBs will change in next 60 years.High-end technology, like low-loss dielectrics, ultra-smooth copper, HDI (High Density Interconnect), integrated flex, embedded components, and decoupling planes, will invade more and more products.Then again, the move to ever greater silicon integration–including multi-chip packaging–will counteract this trend to some degree.Expect PCB-embedded optical waveguides to become commonin conjunction with 3D printing. PCBs will embrace new forms, such as flexible materials and continuous roll production.

10 predictions for the next 60 years in analog electronics article predicts that there will be multiple designs in the future, not only a single dominant one like the Intel processor. Proprietary solutions will disappear and allow the trillions or even quadrillions of MEMS to proliferate in 2076. Wearables will be non-intrusive, not like smart watches today. No fabs will be needed since roll-to-roll printing will be the norm. Security will begin at the sensor’s edge and “garbage data” will be eliminated at the sensor.

Wireless networking will cover the world article predicts that in the next 60 years of wireless and networking technologies will be exponentially more exciting than the first 60 years.

The future of IC design article tries to predict what advancements will be made in IC Design in the next 60 years. By 2076 3-D room-temperature, superconducting, quantum, neuromorphic, and photonic mixed-signal devices will be the common denominator for all integrated circuit designs. Design tools will be so sophisticated that even novice designers will be able to mix and match these technologies into system-in-package designs that solve all application problems behind the scenes. Users will be so used to extensions to their innate brain capabilities that the technologies which perform the tasks will be taken for granted, leaving the engineering community—and its robotic assistants—on a unique echelon of society that actually understands how the world works.

The tyranny of numbers: Sensors in the next 60 years article makes some IoT predictions. It is expected that the rethinking of how to scale devices using fundamental materials science is being done for sensors, and the impact the practical realization of this research will have on how we interface with our world and architect systems over the next 60 years could be just as dramatic. Still, the packaging problem remains, as more and more sensors, with their electronics, are added per node, and more nodes are added to a human’s personal area network as well as the IoT in general. Standards are important for IoT interoperability.

10 predictions for the next 60 years in power electronics article takes a look at what the power electronics world will hold for us in 2076, from alternative energy sources, to diamond technology and the next generation of GaN and SiC. We could see nuclear-powered mustard-seed-sized batteries and Helium-3 as an energy source.

What does the future hold for medical technology? article makes predictions on medical technology.
LEDs will inherit the world article tells that LED was invented in 1962, just 7 years after EDN published its first issue.  By 2076 LEDs will have not only replaced every other light source, but will also have replaced all other short-range communications (such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) with light-pulse encoded signals coming out of every SSL (solid-state light), from freeway lamps to automobile head- and tail-lights, to commercial and home lighting systems.

Soon components will shrink to invisibility article predicts that components in 2076 will be transparent, harness quantum-mechanical properties, and be integrated with all the devices needed for an application, including their own brain-inspired internal power supply. And 3D packaging will be the norm.



  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Remembering Jim Williams, 5 years later

    Famous analog engineer Jim Williams died of a stroke on June 12, 2011.

    Jim was best-known as the most popular contributed writer at EDN. He did many of those articles as part of his duties as an application engineer at Linear Technology as well as National Semiconductor. His earliest articles were as a lab tech at MIT, and as an engineer with Arthur D Little consulting.

    Honoring the late analog great Bob Pease

    Notorious analog engineer Bob Pease died five years ago, on June 18, 2011. His passing was all the more tragic since he died driving home from a remembrance for fellow analog great Jim Williams. Although it was a Saturday, Bob had come to the service from his office at National Semiconductor, now Texas Instruments.

    My buddy has a saying, “Everyone wants to be somebody, no one wants to become somebody.” Bob’s being the most famous analog designer was the result of his hard work becoming a brilliant engineer, with a passion for helping others.


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