Concept

Cognex Corporation

Summary
Cognex Corporation is an American manufacturer of machine vision systems, software and sensors used in automated manufacturing to inspect and identify parts, detect defects, verify product assembly, and guide assembly robots. Cognex is headquartered in Natick, Massachusetts, USA and has offices in more than 20 countries. Cognex began exploring commercial applications of machine vision in the early 1980s. In the 1990s, Cognex’s business grew due to a demand for machine vision tools to help automate semiconductor and electronics manufacturing. While semiconductor manufacturing remains an important market for Cognex, it has expanded to general manufacturing applications. The company’s product portfolio includes In-Sight, VisionPro software, and DataMan. Cognex Corporation was founded in 1981 by Robert J. Shillman, a lecturer in human visual perception at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and two MIT graduate students, Bill Silver and Marilyn Matz. Cognex stands for "Cognition Experts." The company's first vision system, DataMan, was introduced in 1982. DataMan was an optical character recognition (OCR) system designed to read, verify, and assure the quality of letters, numbers, and symbols printed on products and components. The company's first customer was a typewriter manufacturer that purchased DataMan to read letters on typewriter keys and ensure that they were located in the correct position. In 1989, Cognex went public on the NASDAQ exchange for $1.38 per share—within a year, the stock price had tripled. In 1995, Cognex purchased Acumen, a U.S. based developer of wafer identification systems. In 2004, the company won an intellectual property victory when a federal judge ruled in Cognex's favor in a patent lawsuit brought against the estate of the inventor Jerome H. Lemelson, who had filed dozens of submarine patents, some of which purported to cover machine vision processes. The machine vision-related patents were held invalid. The ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
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