Acuson was co-founded in 1979 by Dr. Samuel Maslak and Dr. Amin Hanafy as a sonography company specializing in high quality medical ultrasound equipment. The Company’s first product shipped in 1983, pioneering the first fully computerized ultrasound system. The product was equipped with 128 separate transmit/receive channels for image formation, bringing “Gold Standard” ultrasound image quality and system performance to the millions of ultrasound exams performed each year in the US and minimizing the need for more invasive and expensive procedures such as cardiac catheterization, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT).
Growth and Expansion
By 1987, the Company had shipped its first color Doppler imaging system, a diagnostic tool for physicians to measure velocity of blood flow in the heart and major arteries, depicted as a color overlay on the standard ultrasound image. Cardiology equipment became Acuson’s second largest segment, after radiology.
By 1989, 18% of Acuson’s sales came from international operations in the UK, Germany, Canada, France, Sweden, Australia and Asia. The Company employed more than 1,000 people worldwide, and sales and net income surged to $227 million and $38 million, respectively.
Acuson’s technology was so important to the evolution of the obstetric ultrasound, that in 1997, the National Museum of American History (part of the Smithsonian Institution) documented the history, development, commercialization and application of diagnostic ultrasound, and Acuson’s products remain a part of the Smithsonian’s collections.
Financing and Exit
We provided $3 million of pre-IPO financing. In 1986, the Company completed a successful IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2000, Acuson was acquired by the Siemens Medical Engineering Group for $700 million.