50 years of PLC innovation

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ABB is very proud to say that we have been in the PLC business since its cradle. With the occasion of our 50-year anniversary, we would like to give you an overview of the milestones this past half century brought with it. We look forward to the next 50 years which will surely be just as innovative!


Shortly after the first logic controllers were born in the 1960s, ABB launched its first hard-wired controller Sigmatronic b.


Soon afterwards, with the Sigmatronic e, the controllers became programmable with a programming language similar to “Instruction List” still used today.


ABB released the Axumerik, one of the very first one-axis computer-numeric controllers (CNCs) ever on the market. It was mainly developed to be used together with our group’s servomotors at that time.


The revolutionizing Procontic product family came to the market. Procontic b was the very first PLC on the market which offered decentralized I/Os with the state-of-the-art I/O fieldbus named ZB10.


The Procontic T300 offered the high-level programming languages Pascal, Fortran and C. Thanks to the modularity of the system, several customized developments of special-function modules were undertaken together with external machine builders.


The Procontic T200 was mainly used in the infrastructure segment where it was widely deployed together with a modem as a data collector.


Only four years later, the CS31 platform was also the basis for a breakthrough development: the first ever machine safety PLC which offered a decentral safety bus using one physical fieldbus for non-safety and safety I/Os.

At the same time, a rebranding process and upgrade took place and CS31 became the Advant Controller AC31.


At the beginning of the 1990s, ABB launched the last product belonging to the Procontic family: The CS31.


Also for us, the new millennium marked a new beginning: The PLC family AC500 was born, a brand-new PLC platform to take ABB’s PLCs into a new era.

For the first time in the ABB PLC history and probably also on the market, one unified PLC platform was launched which used one software for programming and offered possibilities to seamlessly share I/Os across one single product family.


We launched our product range for entry-level applications, AC500-eCo, as a reaction to market demands. At the same time, Version 2 of AC500 was released.


For use in eXtreme conditions, the product range
AC500-XC was launched. This way, our PLCs can also perform well in extremely high or low temperatures, salt-mist environments or under strong vibrations.


Only briefly afterwards, we also transferred our safety products to our new family and started selling the 
AC500-S Safety PLC.


By launching AC500 V3, we integrated the new programming language into our products and paved the way for an interconnected world by including state-of-the art protocols such as OPC UA, MQTT and KNX.


ABB introduces AC500-eCo V3 and thus creates an entry-level product range based on the principles of modularity, scalability and connectivity.

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