ASML is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of chip-making equipment. Headquartered in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, ASML employs more than 16,500 people.
In 1984, Philips and Advanced Semiconductor Materials International (ASMI) created a new company to develop lithography systems. Called ASML, we began our days inauspiciously, located in a wooden shed next to a Philips building in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. That same year we launched the PAS 2000 stepper, our first system. By 1985 we grew to 100 employees and moved into futuristic-looking headquarters in nearby Veldhoven. In 1986 we brought the PAS 2500 stepper to market, which impressed the semiconductor industry with its superior alignment technology. The seed of our success had been planted, and the PAS 2500 stepper helped build the reputation of some of today’s leading semiconductor manufacturers. In the same year we established our very close partnership with lens manufacturer Carl Zeiss, which endures until today. By 1988 we began to make in-roads in the Asian market, after Philips established a joint-venture foundry in Taiwan. In the United States we grew from a few employees to 84, spread over five locations. ASMI withdrew from the ASML joint venture and was bought out by Philips.
In 1991, we launched what turned out to be our breakthrough platform, the PAS 5500, which reduced manufacturing times for our customers. In 1995, we launched an initial public offering on the Amsterdam and NASDAQ stock exchanges, bringing in capital to fuel our growth further. We expanded our production facilities in Veldhoven. In 2000, we acquired Silicon Valley Group, adding Wilton in Connecticut as an R&D and manufacturing location.
In 2001, we introduced the TWINSCAN system and its dual-stage technology. These systems expose one wafer while the next wafer is already being measured, which maximizes the productivity of the system as well as its accuracy, boosting the value of ownership for our customers. In 2007, we shipped the first TWINSCAN XT:1900i. As an immersion system, the TWINSCAN XT:1900i projects light through water between the lens and the wafer, meaning it can produce smaller features on chips while using light with the same wavelength. By mid-2008, we had an installed base of 100 immersion systems at 20 customers.
In 2010, we shipped the first NXE:3100, a prototype Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography tool, to the research facility of an Asian chip maker. This cutting-edge technology uses light of a shorter wavelength than previous lithography machines, meaning customers can image smaller features, and thus pack more transistors on a chip, continuing Moore’s Law. To accelerate the development of next-generation lithography technologies, in 2012, we created the Customer Co-Investment Program with three of our key customers – Intel, TSMC and Samsung. All agreed to contribute to the R&D of next-generation lithography technologies over five years, and acquired equity stakes in the company. In 2013, we completed the acquisition of Cymer, the San Diego-based manufacturer of light sources, to accelerate the development of EUV. In parallel, we continued to improve the performance of our immersion lithography systems, the work horses of the chip industry, resulting in the first shipment of the NXT:1970Ci.