This chapter has traced the history of programmable hardware, from its early beginnings in the late 1960s through the "golden age" of programmable logic in the late 1970s and early 1980s and into the era of the FPGA, which began in the mid-1980s and continues to this day.
If there is one thing that we hope we've shown by presenting this brief history, it is that advances in design tools and corresponding advances in the methods of programming for these devices have been a major factor in the acceptance and broad use of each succeeding generation of programmable hardware.
Although much of this book deals with more modest applications in the domain of embedded systems, it is clear that FPGAsand FPGA-based computinghave an enormously important role to play in future high-performance, reconfigurable computing platforms. It is also clear that FPGAs themselves will continue to evolve in parallel with (and potentially in response to) developments in parallel programming tools and methods. In the next chapter, we'll begin our investigation of software-based methods for programming the newest generation of FPGA-based platforms.