Milestone-Proposal:Birthplace of the SPICE Circuit Simulation Program, 1971


Docket #:2010-01

This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone Nomination

This is a draft proposal, that has not yet been submitted. To submit this proposal, click on "Edit with form", check the "Submit this proposal for review" box at the bottom, and save the page.

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old?

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution)

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity?

Was it of at least regional importance?

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)?

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony?

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated?

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:

1970-71 (SPICE 1)

Title of the proposed milestone:

Birthplace of the SPICE Circuit Simulation Program, 1971

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Oakland-East Bay Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Santa Clara Valley Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Santa Clara Valley Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

Unit: Santa Clara Valley Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: Oakland-East Bay Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name masked to public

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Cory Hall, University of California, Berkeley CA 94720

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.

The plaque will be affixed to a permanent wall just inside the main entrance to Cory Hall at the University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA. Cory Hall is the Electrical Engineering building at UC Berkeley and is the building where all three versions of SPICE were developed.

Are the original buildings extant?


Details of the plaque mounting:

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The site is protected by University of California staff and security. This is a public area, well lit, accessible to the public without restriction Monday to Friday from 7AM to 6:30 PM local time. No appointment requirements nor security barriers limit access at those times. There are often events, open houses, and parties organized nearby, and there is a lot of visitor and student traffic there.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Regents of the University of California

A letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property:

A letter or email from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application:

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

For the past forty years, SPICE (an acronym for Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis) has been an essential computer-aided design (CAD) tool for the design of integrated electronic circuits. It also has been an essential tool for teaching electronic circuits to undergraduate engineering students. Within a few years after the original development, SPICE had achieved acceptance at almost all electrical engineering schools and had started a cottage industry to supply SPICE derivatives to the rapidly expanding integrated circuit industry. To this day, SPICE and its commercial derivatives are widely used in industry and academia for the design of integrated circuits.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

SPICE began as a class project of a series of courses taught by Professor Ronald A. Rohrer. The course was about circuit simulation, and Ron, always an innovative teacher, figured the class would learn more by doing than by listening to him lecture. The rule was that Don Pederson had to approve of the program for the class students to receive a passing grade. Ron Rohrer's class project idea was a smashing success. In one year, the class developed a simulation program that combined a sparse matrix solver, implicit integration algorithms, and adjoint solution methods into one program that would evolve into the industry-standard circuit simulation programs.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

SPICE was the latest of circuit simulation programs to be developed at UC Berkeley under the supervision of the late Professor Donald O. Pederson. In common with the previous programs, SPICE was intended for instructional use and had a straightforward input syntax that included built-in models for semiconductor devices. SPICE was the first program to combine the circuit analysis capabilities of DC analysis, AC analysis, and transient analysis. It was the first simulation program to utilize sparse matrix techniques to allow simulation of circuit sizes orders of magnitude larger than previously possible. It also utilized the relatively new concept of the adjoint network to provide efficient sensitivity analysis and noise analysis. In common with previous programs developed under Professor Pederson, SPICE was released into the public domain, an early example of what is now known as open source software. Professor Pederson was the 1998 recipient of the IEEE Medal of Honor, with the citation:

References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.