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1999 Annual Review

The Measurement Revolution: 1975-1989

The Measurement Revolution is a direct result of the computer revolution that has affected every aspect of our lives. The Measurement Revolution is the story of how the computer has redefined measurement and automation. Since its inception in 1976, National Instruments has revolutionized the way engineers and scientists work by empowering them with the personal computer. NI develops and manufactures hundreds of integrated software and hardware products, which, when combined with standard computers, are used to replace and/or communicate with traditional instruments and to monitor and control processes. NI is also pioneering a new generation of distributed measurement and automation systems by leveraging the computer and the Internet. As a leader in computer-based measurement and automation, NI is dedicated to producing innovative solutions that empower our customers to achieve their goals – faster, better and at a lower cost. Take a look at just a few of our products that are making the Measurement Revolution possible.

Milestones of the Computer Industry Measurement Revolution Timeline

1975 – 1979

  • Microsoft founded
  • Apple Computer incorporated
  • 4.77 MHz 8086 processor


  • NI founded.


    • NI announces first product to connect instruments to mini computers.

  • 1980 – 1984

    • IBM PC, running MS-DOS
    • 6 MHz 80286 processor
    • Compaq portable PC
    • Microsoft Windows
    • Apple Macintosh


    • Our first product to connect instruments to IBM PCs.

    1985 – 1989

    • ARPA renamed Internet
    • 16 MHz 80386 processor
    • Microsoft Windows 1.0
    • CD-ROM drives for PCs
    • OS/2 operating system
    • Microsoft Excel spreadsheet
    • 3.5" floppy disk drives
    • 25 MHz 80486 processor
    • Microsoft Office on CD-ROM


    • LabVIEW starts the computer-based measurement revolution with a revolutionary graphical programming environment for Macintosh users.


    • With plug-in boards, Macintosh users acquire measurement data directly into their computer.
    • LabWindows provides an integrated scientific programming environment for DOS PC users.


    • With plug-in boards, IBM PC users acquire measurement data directly with their PCs.
    • NI hardware and software help PC users control high-end VXI modular instrumentation.

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