Watch our 20th anniversary video to learn about the history, complete with photos dating back to the 1970s, or scroll on to read the story.
Thermo-Calc Software was founded in 1997, but it all really started much before that. Actually, already in the mid 70’s. The place was the department for physical metallurgy at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden (KTH), where Mats Hillert was a professor. Three of his graduate students at this time were:
They all had different projects, but with the common factor that they all needed access to thermodynamic data. The three students decided to join forces and write a more general program for thermodynamic calculations which did not need to be modified for each new system that was to be introduced.
Read more about the history of computational thermodynamics at KTH in this fascinating presentation by John Ågren: Education in Computational Thermodynamics, ICME and Materials Design – the KTH experience »
The result was Thermo-Calc and the first version was ready in 1981. Fortunately, all three students decided to stay in the department after graduation and could thereby continue to work on the software. Only a few years later, the reputation of this software had spread and other researchers in academia, as well as in industry, expressed large interest in using Thermo-Calc.
One of the students, John Ågren, had a project on a topic of simulation of diffusion controlled phase transformations, and this work eventually resulted in the DICTRA software, now known as the Diffusion module (DICTRA).
Later, several other individuals also made contributions to the software, e.g. Lars Höglund, Jan-Olof Andersson, Björn Jönsson and Anders Engström, and in order to make sure that the intellectual property of the software was under the control of a single entity, the seven researchers created a foundation to which they donated their respective individual rights. This was done in 1993 and the name of the foundation was “Stiftelsen för Tillämpad Termodynamik” (STT). The purpose of this foundation was and still is to support research in the field of computational thermodynamics. This is achieved annually by distributing scholarships to young researchers who are active in this field.
A few years later, in 1997, the company Thermo-Calc Software AB was established. STT became (and still is) the majority owner. A company was created because commercial activity was not consistent with the institute's academic mission, but was necessary in order to support a growing number of users. From the start, the company has experienced continuous growth and has been steadily maturing.
*KTH=The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden