Critical Link was founded in 1997 by four embedded systems professionals, during the height of the almost universal shortage of engineers in the software and electronics fields. Our goal was to build a company that would help fill this gap by providing product development services to companies trying to bring new or updated products to market.
The vision was to become a completely virtual company – no central office, everyone works from home. The internet was growing and we were early adopters of the virtual workplace, which we believed would be commonplace in the near future. For us, that future lasted 9 months – which was when our children came home for summer break and we brought on our first employees.
Change is good
In the early years the shortage of engineers grew with the runup of the Y2K and dot-com bubbles, and Critical Link assisted a number of companies with their hardware and software projects.
Then in the early 2000’s, a sea change occurred. The bubbles burst, the market suddenly had an influx of available engineering talent, and a trend toward off-shore outsourcing of engineering services began to take hold. We needed to re-engineer how we helped our customers be successful.
These conditions were the inspiration for the MityDSP, and the invention of the System-on-Module concept. We productized a key portion of hardware design – the CPU subsystem – into a physical module. And the software team followed suit by developing a turnkey software package.
The original MityDSP, and subsequent product families, addressed the increasing need of customers to shrink product development budgets (both internal and external) and accelerate their time to market. We had identified a new way to help our customers achieve success! And in the years since we have seen numerous other companies follow suit, demonstrating our concept as a proven way to help OEMs achieve success with their products.
During the summer of 2008, Texas Instruments was looking to expand its relationship with a select number of electronic design houses as it was in the process of developing what was then the Texas Instruments Elite Design House Network, now the Texas Instruments Design House Network (TIDN) – Platinum Membership.
Of the hundreds of companies that were a part of TI’s long standing third party development networks, they selected 12 of the most highly qualified and recommended companies. These 12 companies, which included Critical Link, were personally invited to the program by TI management. The program has now grown to 20 companies worldwide – with Critical Link remaining a member since inception.
This relationship with a major silicon manufacturer was the first of many that Critical Link would develop. In the years since our entrance into the TI Elite Design House Network, Critical Link has built relationships with the four largest distributors in North America – Arrow, Avnet, Digikey, and Mouser – and has developed a strong network of manufacturers representatives across the US. This network of partners acts as a force multiplier, delivering local support to our customers, and convenient access to us, our products, and our engineering services.
Today we continue to enjoy working closely with our customers (our original partners!) to get their products developed and successfully into production for delivery to the market. Whether we provide close-in software and hardware development services, or support them with one of our SoM products, we enjoy nothing more than to see them be successful with their business!