The PCB Dinosaurs Get New Life at IPC APEX EXPO 2018


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Something special happened this year at IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego. A semi-secret group that most did not know existed was reborn.

The Order of the PCB Dinosaurs (originally called the PWB Dinosaurs—the sign of a true dino) was born because of a comment almost 20 years ago by my good friend Bernie Kessler. Back in the day, when suppliers like us became IPC members, we could only be associate members; unlike fabricators, we could not serve on the board and we could not lead key committees. In the early ‘90s that started to change. I was asked to form and chair a new group, the IPC Suppliers Council. This group was at that time limited to the general managers, presidents, and CEOs of the key suppliers to the industry. One of the first decisions we made was to recommend that IPC start its own show, IPC EXPO. The meetings, discussions, and the decision to proceed is another story in itself, but eventually the plan was approved. However, the decision to do so was not unanimous.

After the formation of the new show was announced, I had a discussion with Bernie  regarding the reasons it would be good for IPC. He had not been in favor of IPC expanding into the show arena, but he was willing to support it. He said, “I guess I am now just a dinosaur, but I will give it a chance.” We planned and had our first show in Boston; it was a success and the rest is history.

In 1999, my parent company, Morton Thiokol, sold Morton, which included Dynachem, to Rohm and Haas, and I decided not to move on to the new, combined company. I met with Bernie a few months later and told him that I guess I was now becoming a dinosaur too. As we talked, I realized that there were a number of us who had moved on from our positions in the industry in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but who were still involved in the industry in different ways. Perhaps there were a bunch of PCB industry dinosaurs out there.

I decided to start a social group of us dinosaurs and the Order of the PCB Dinosaurs was announced in 2000 in my Fein-Lines column in CircuiTree Magazine (now also an extinct dinosaur), in which I interviewed Bernie. The response was immediate, and many prospective dinosaurs contacted me with requests for entry and ideas on expansion. At the next IPC EXPO, Bernie, Gene Weiner, Jim Hickman and other dinosaurs discussed the concept in more detail. It seems that there were more of us out there than we had realized.

We decided that the definition of a PCB Dinosaur is someone who has been in the PCB industry for 25 years or more, is 50 years or older, (there were a very few exceptions, but you will have to decide for yourselves who they are) and working in a different position than when he or she originally started in the industry. A true “PCB Dino” has been involved in the IPC or other internationally recognized PCB industry associations (JPCA, PCIF, etc.) for many of those years. They should still be involved in the industry and be well-known for not only what they accomplished during the early part of their careers, but also for what they are doing now. A true PCB Dino is still active in the industry.

Of course, we realized that (real) dinosaurs are extinct—and we will all be extinct at some time—but while they were around, the original dinosaurs truly ruled the landscape. Thus, the similarity between the original and the modern PCB version.

Acceptance into the order of the PCB Dinosaurs was purely subjective, with membership originally granted either by Dan Feinberg and/or Bernie Kessler with a dino pin awarded at an industry event. Over the years we granted PCB Dino membership to a growing number, but as the years went on, interest waned as we all moved on in new careers (it seems that most dinos failed ‘Retirement 101’). However, you could still see dinos proudly wearing their pin at industry events.

Last year at APEX EXPO, I was asked by Editor Patty Goldman why I no longer wore my pin, and I explained that I had lost it! It seems that I was not the only one, so I committed to a slight redesign and had more pins made. This year I wore my new pin and I gave new pins to others who needed them.  Patty reminded me that in the last decade, there were many new dinos who had never been honored, so we decided to start inviting the next generation of dinos into the fold. The result: interest was high and we ran out of pins.

More pins are on order and I now have I-Connect007 as a new partner in restarting the Order of the PCB Dinosaurs. If you feel that you meet the criteria to be a dino, please contact us. If you are already a dino but need a new pin, find us at an industry show or event.

If you want to see the original Order of the PWB Dinosaurs list, you can visit the page from my website. The list will soon be updated to include the new members and provide updates. For now, it’s just a fun thing; we will see what happens. If this takes off again, remember that the PCB Dinosaur renaissance took root at IPC APEX EXPO 2018.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Show & Tell Magazine.

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