Open search

CAN Newsletter magazine

From eight to more than 700 members

This year, the CAN in Automation (CiA) nonprofit association celebrates its 30th anniversary. In short recap, the CiA initiator, Holger Zeltwanger, reflects some of the important milestones.

(Source: Adobe Stock)

The complete article is published in the March issue of the CAN Newsletter magazine 2022. This is just an excerpt.

Everything started already in 1991 in Munich (Germany) on the System tradeshow. In those days, I was the editor of the German VMEbus magazine. I discussed with some companies promoting first CAN board level products compatibility issues regarding the physical layer and interoperability in respect to higher OSI layers. The result was simple, I invited eight companies to a very first meeting to discuss how to overcome compatibility and interoperability problems to Nuremberg in January 1992, where I was living. Surprisingly, 23 companies showed up. At the end of the meeting, I got the task to prepare a next meeting to inaugurate a nonprofit association according to German laws (we German love clubs).

Already in 1992, CiA members demonstrated at the Interkama fair the interoperability of very first CAN-connectable devices and tools (Source: CiA)

On March 5, 1992, six companies and two individuals founded (the CAN Newsletter reported) the CAN in Automation (CiA) international users’ and manufacturers’ group. CiA was registered by German authorities as a nonprofit entity. In the same year, 15 CiA members participated in the Interkama tradeshow demonstrating for the first time a CAN network connecting products from different vendors. The products utilized already 9-pin DIN connectors with a standardized pinning that is still used today. The next two years, CiA was busy developing the first specifications. The CAN Application Layer (CAL) specified in the CiA 200 series was an academic approach.

Nevertheless, several applications made use of it. Bosch and some partners adapted it and specified a CAL-based communication profile within the Esprit research project sponsored by the European Community. In 1994, the results of this project were handed over to CiA for further developments and maintenance. Nowadays, this approach is known as CANopen comprising application layer and profile specifications.

Holger Zeltwanger, the initiator of CAN in Automation

Also 1994, I organized the first international CAN Conference (iCC) in Mainz (Germany). In those days, the CiA headquarters was still a one-man show. After the successful iCC with more than 200 participants, CiA hired the first secretary. Membership was growing, and I was not longer able to work as fulltime editor and administrating the CiA association in parallel. I quit my job as editor and began to work fulltime for CiA. To be honest, I was still working for my own publication, the CAN Newsletter, which I started already in June 1992. The next steps, were the release of CANopen specifications. This included the CiA 301 application layer and communication profile, the CiA 401 profile for modular I/O devices, and the CiA 402 device profile for drive and motion controllers.

If you would like to read the full article, you can download it free of charge or you download the entire magazine.


Publish date

CAN in Automation
CAN Newsletter March 2022