InterDigital at 50
Here’s a snapshot of the last 50 years of history and achievement at InterDigital.
1972: The company today known as InterDigital was founded by Sherwin Seligsohn as International Mobile Machines Corporation (IMM). Led by a young innovator with a keen desire to stay connected, the company’s first product line was a portable analog radio system in the 450 Mhz band, including a wireless handheld analog telephone capable of connecting to a public network.
Mid-1970s: As analog cellular technology emerged, IMM engineers turned to the Time Division Multiple Access (TMDA) method to create a wireless cell phone system to support the eventual emergence of the pocket cellular telephone.
1976: During U.S. bicentennial celebrations in Philadelphia, IMM demonstrated its wireless telephone in Fairmount Park, the same place where Alexander Graham Bell made his first demonstration of the telephone 100 years earlier.[ref]
1981: IMM goes public.
1986: IMM introduces its digital Ultraphone system, pioneering fixed wireless access to remote and developing areas unwired by copper telephone systems. IMM’s first UltraPhone System was installed in the mountains of Glendo, Wyoming to serve rural communities.
1990: Prior to the commercialization of cellular, IMM is tapped to provide secure digital communications to support the rescue mission for the Avianca flight disaster in Long Island.
1992: IMM acquires SCS Mobilecom and SCS Telecom Inc., and the companies merge to create InterDigital Communications Corp. (ICC), under the leadership of CEO William Erdman.
Mid-1990s: InterDigital establishes technology partnerships and research alliances with several industry leaders, including German electronics giant Siemens AG, Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and French electronics firm Alcatel.
1997: InterDigital demonstrated a broadband CDMA solution that delivered video over wireless, a pioneering innovation three years before the first commercial 3G networks were launched in 2000.
1998: InterDigital forged a four-year partnership with Nokia to leverage InterDigital’s wideband patent position and develop 3G cellular phones.
2000s: Throughout the 2000s and early 2010s, InterDigital was at the forefront of developing 4G and 5G technologies. With representation in all major global wireless standards organizations throughout our history, InterDigital has helped develop and shape technologies in every aspect of the network – from handsets to base stations and mobile edge computing; from IoT sensors to streaming video and beyond.
2005: Bill Merritt is appointed InterDigital’s President and CEO, and member of the Board of Directors.
2007-2008: InterDigital develops and launches its SlimChip mobile broadband modem at Mobile World Congress (MWC), delivering performance hailed by Signals Research as among the industry’s best.
2012: Intel acquires ~10% of InterDigital’s patent portfolio for $375 million.
2013: InterDigital becomes a significant industry player after arbitration win and license with Apple ODM Pegatron grows to 37% of revenue. InterDigital signs agreement to arbitrate with Huawei, leading to a historic first Chinese license with a market leader.
2013: InterDigital demonstrates one of the world’s first working 5G platforms at MWC.
2013: Bloomberg recognizes InterDigital as most profitable company in the US on a per worker basis, and names Bill Merritt among “Tech’s Top Turnaround Artists.”
2014: InterDigital signs landmark 10-year license agreement with Samsung.
2016: InterDigital signs license agreements with Apple and Huawei.
2018-2019: InterDigital establishes one of the largest long-term R&D and licensing companies in the world with the acquisition of the Technicolor Patent and Research & Innovation (R&I) organizations. The acquisition expanded InterDigital’s research team and capabilities far beyond wireless to include video, AR, immersive content, AI, and other key areas.
2020: InterDigital becomes an industry trailblazer by launching a licensing transparency initiative to make more accessible expanded information about the company’s standards essential patent (SEP) licensing rate program, rate structure, licensing and arbitration principles, and important data about the SEP portfolio. The launch set an industry standard and highlighted the fairness and flexibility of our licensing approach.
2020: InterDigital pioneers licensing relationships with leading Chinese telecommunications device makers. InterDigital resolves a nine-year licensing dispute by signing a license with ZTE, and later signed a licensing deal with Chinese device maker Huawei.
2021: InterDigital welcomes Liren Chen as President and CEO and member of the Board of Directors.
2022: InterDigital has grown from a net loss position with roughly one year’s working capital to just under $1 billion in cash with just over $1.5 billion returned to shareholders over the last 15 years.
2022: Recognized as a leader in wireless and video architecture and design, and delivery of advanced technology platforms, InterDigital has been an integral contributor to the development of every generation of wireless technology and the evolution of video ecosystems.
As an industry pioneer over the last 50 years and through to today, InterDigital's innovations, technologies and solutions have been licensed to more than 6 billion devices worldwide.