This question crossed my mind today.

What is the history of the MSP430? When did it start, what did it evolve from, why was it made (i.e. what goals was it trying to achieve/what technical limitations with current uC was it trying to address), and why is it called the "MSP430"?

An internet search only revealed this power point, which doesn't say much.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wait, why do I get a -1? Is the answer really obvious and I'm blind and can't find it online? I'm genuinely curious to know the history. \$\endgroup\$
    – TRISAbits
    Sep 11, 2014 at 2:02
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Here's a brief history from TI. The Wikipedia article lists all the different versions but no dates. \$\endgroup\$
    – tcrosley
    Sep 11, 2014 at 2:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Flagging a question down without giving a reason why I find even poorer than a (possible?) off-topic question. What I do know is that this EE site is more about hardware and/or problems, see the meta and help for this site. \$\endgroup\$
    – captcha
    Sep 11, 2014 at 2:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Back in 2006, I was at a talk given by TI to a small group of students and engineers. It was mentioned that predecessors of MSP430 were ASICs developed previously by TI. The major requirements for those ASICs were low power and good A/D capabilities. I don't have hard reference for this, so this is hearsay to some extent. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 11, 2014 at 2:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm still curious to learn about this, should anyone have any insight on the matter. \$\endgroup\$
    – TRISAbits
    Oct 16, 2014 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


There was a little-known predecessor to the MSP430 series in the early 1990s, which was the TSS400 "uPower Programmable High-Precision Sensor Signal Processor". It had only an 8-bit processor, and the ROM contained an interpreter for a language called SMPL, so it was not intended that it be customer-programmed in machine language (or C, or any other "normal" programming language).

While the TSS400 showed promise, ultimately customers wanted a more powerful processor, and the MSP430 was the result.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Now that's interesting. I would have never thought this would have been the back story, but given the state of the industry at that time I believe it. Do you know of any products that uses the TSS400? \$\endgroup\$
    – TRISAbits
    Nov 18, 2014 at 16:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know of any specific products using the TSS400. I expect that it saw a lot of use in relatively obscure embedded systems, for stuff like industrial controls. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric Smith
    Nov 19, 2014 at 0:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for shedding light on this: knowing the past is the best way of understanding the future. \$\endgroup\$
    – TRISAbits
    Nov 19, 2014 at 5:00

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