A Brief Company History
From behind-the-scenes experimental work for the U.S. Department of Defense to today’s highly advanced ultrasound systems used around the globe, SonoSite has been defining and redefining next-generation point-of-care (POC) ultrasound as its recognized market leader. Since the company’s early pioneering days in the 1980s, SonoSite has continued to enjoy remarkable growth while earning worldwide recognition for its progressive product line, educational programs, and advocacy for a broader understanding of ultrasound’s multiple benefits.
SonoSite began originally when the D.O.D awarded a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) grant to SonoSite’s parent company ATL Ultrasound, Inc., to create a portable ultrasound system that weighed less than 10 pounds and was durable enough to withstand the severe, unpredictable conditions of the battlefield. It took the leveraging of over a decade of expertise in digital ultrasound and customized ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit design) technology to meet the project goals, but the result was SonoSite’s first point-of-care (POC) ultrasound machine—the SonoSite 180™ system. The 180 represented both a major step forward in technology and a revolutionary approach to bringing ultrasound to the patient, wherever the patient’s point of care might be.
In April 1998, ATL spun off SonoSite as a separate, public company with a large-company IP portfolio. Between 1998 and 2012, SonoSite created five more ultrasound systems and numerous accessories while advancing its industry-leading technology. By 2012, 70,000 systems had been installed worldwide and the company was represented by 14 subsidiaries and a global distribution network in over 100 countries. SonoSite expanded into the preclinical research market when, in late June 2010, it acquired Canadian company VisualSonics and its ultra high-frequency micro-ultrasound technology. In March 2012, SonoSite became a wholly owned subsidiary of FujiFilm.
Since its inception, SonoSite’s lightweight, robust products have created and led the point-of-care ultrasound market. From sophisticated urban hospital emergency departments to clinics in austere, remote villages, SonoSite systems are used by over 21 medical specialties and provide clinicians around the world with a cost-effective tool for improving patient safety and workflow efficiency. SonoSite’s impact on global health was recognized in July 2012 when, as part of the 50th Anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair, the Washington Global Health Alliance chose to showcase SonoSite’s NanoMaxx® ultrasound system as an outstanding Washington-state innovation that addresses global health concerns.
Currently, SonoSite has in excess of 145 patents and holds a number of prestigious design awards. It continues to be the world leader in point-of-care ultrasound.