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SIMATIC throughout history

From transistors to the digital factory

Automation technology is the backbone of industrial production; it makes facilities more productive, efficient, reliable, and faster. With SIMATIC, in 1958 Siemens lays the foundation to its role as a global leader in automation technology. Join us on our journey through 60 years of SIMATIC history.


60th anniversary - April 2, 1958

Happy birthday, SIMATIC!

On the tracks of SIMATIC

How an automation system changes the world

Opening up new application areas for transistors in power supply: This is the mission of a small team of experts that works together at Siemens-Schuckertwerke in Erlangen in the mid-1950s. But what the engineers are developing will change not only the face of power technology but the entire industry forever…


The early days

Paris, 1959: At the Siemens booth at the European Machine Tool Exhibition, visitors can admire the first generation of a “Building-Block System for Solid-State Controls” called SIMATIC G. The hard-wired turret lathe control automates basic machine functions and combines the operational reliability and speed of solid-state controls with the simplicity and clear arrangement of relay controls. In addition, it is practically wear-free and requires minimum space. Initially, SIMATIC is attractive primarily for transformer substations and power plants, where particularly dependable control units are in demand. There, the system’s short switching times enable reliable arc control, for example.


The breakthrough

A short time later, SIMATIC plays a central role in ushering in the age of industrial microelectronics: In the 1970s and 1980s, the new SIMATIC designs are no longer based on fixed wiring but programmable and thus flexibly connectable functions. At the same time, computing power is increasing rapidly. With the SIMATIC S5 automation devices, which contain several million transistor functions, the breakthrough of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) is finally achieved. Soon SIMATIC systems are being used in large numbers for a wide variety of tasks in process and production automation.


The linkup

In the 1990s, the new fieldbus technology PROFIBUS makes it possible to combine individual SIMATIC controllers into integrated automation solutions. Shortly afterwards, Siemens presents the concept of Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) which can be used to solve almost all conceivable tasks in industrial automation – whether in power plants, sewage works, traffic engineering or production facilities. Today, TIA, SIMATIC and the communications network PROFINET form the basis of fully networked “digital factories” where all processes are automatically controlled and optimized. In the future, new technologies such as virtual commussioning, digital twins, cloud and edge computing will enable shorter product development times, more complex applications and more efficient optimization processes.

Milestones in automation

From the first visit to the patent office to market penetration to digitalized production: Learn more about the most important milestones in 60 years of SIMATIC history in our timeline.

1958 / 1959

A small team of experts is looking for new application areas for the recently developed transistors. The SIMATIC trademark is registered at the German Patent Office on April 2, 1958. At the Machine Tool Exhibition in Paris, the “Building-Block System for Solid-State Controls” SIMATIC G causes a sensation. The new technology is significantly faster than previous relay controls, wear-free and requires less space all at the same time. The foundation for one of the world’s most successful automation systems is laid.


Starting with the SIMATIC N series, silicon is used instead of germanium as a significantly more robust conductor material. The second SIMATIC generation is mainly used in transformer substations and power plants and provides reliable arc control with its short switching times.


Microprocessor technology and integrated circuits find their way into control engineering and enable programmable logic controllers (PLCs). The SIMATIC S3 controller is no longer programmed via fixed wiring but software. With computing power exponentially increased, new industrial applications are made possible.


Siemens presents the fifth generation, the SIMATIC S5 series, with which the breakthrough of programmable logic controllers is achieved. Switching times are reduced and enable more complex and faster production processes. The first failsafe controller is now available. The engineering software STEP 5 makes it easier to quickly create and modify programs. SIMATIC S5 controllers are used all over the world and in almost every industry.


With the universally applicable SIMATIC S5 U series, sales figures are improving rapidly. This success is owed to a significant increase in computing power: While a 1965 SIMATIC N module contains 20 transistor functions, there are around four million such functions in 1988’s SIMATIC S5 system. Now, in addition to control functions, higher-level tasks can be performed as well. Users appreciate the extremely robust and simple technical layout.


A new generation of PLCs is introduced to the market and sets standards. SIMATIC S7 automation devices are available in the three performance classes S7-200, S7-300 and S7-400. The new fieldbus standard PROFIBUS and industrial ethernet enable seamless communication all the way through from the facility to the office. The network era has begun.


With Totally Integrated Automation (TIA), Siemens presents an automation concept that covers the entire production chain from receipt to shipping. It is the next milestone in the history of automation.


SIMATIC IT offers significant efficiency increases by coordinating the seamless exchange of information between production and management.


A new generation of controllers is introduced. The SIMATIC S7-1200 Basic Controller sets new flexibility standards with extensive expansion options and can be perfectly adapted to a wide variety of automation tasks. In combination with SIMATIC HMI Basic Panels, there is almost no limit to the range of applications.


The vision of Totally Integrated Automation becomes reality: With TIA Portal, Siemens introduces a user-friendly platform for project planning, programming, and commissioning of controls, operator units, and drives. It supports the user in realizing automation tasks quickly and intuitively. TIA Portal is the most important milestone on the road to the digital factory.


The SIMATIC S7-1500 Advanced Controller series is a milestone in terms of performance and efficiency. The high-performance control system enhances the productivity of machines. New visualization and motion control solutions are enabled by SIMATIC. With the controllers’ integrated system diagnosis functions, faults can be quickly detected and rectified. This improves the availability of machines and facilities. In combination with the engineering framework TIA Portal, automation tasks can be realized more efficiently than ever.


New options such as PLCSim Advanced blur the line between the real and digital worlds: They enable the virtual simulation, testing and commissioning of SIMATIC controllers. This way, errors or weak points can be eliminated even before a problem arises in reality. The digital factory is already possible today!


60 years of SIMATIC have laid the foundation for future innovations and technology. The challenge of the future is to let all machines and production plants communicate intelligently with each other, in order to optimize themselves with maximum flexibility. We look forward to continuing to actively shape the future of automation.

What the future will bring

The story goes on

Intelligent production robots that solve new tasks autonomously and factories that continuously optimize themselves: What sounds like the distant future is already within reach today with SIMATIC. Learn exciting facts about the future of manufacturing.