Thermo-Calc Software is a well-established company with a rich and interesting history.
Thermo-Calc Software was founded in 1997, but it all started much before that, as early as the mid-1970s, in fact. The place was the department for physical metallurgy at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden, where Mats Hillert was a professor. Three of his graduate students at this time were:
- Bo Sundman
- Bo Jansson
- John Ågren
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 that 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, such as Lars Höglund, Jan-Olof Andersson, Björn Jönsson, and Anders Engström. 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.