The Opera Story

Discover the story behind the internationally renowned electromagnetic software

Find out the history of Opera’s software, including how Opera got its name, the development of different solver modules, and awards and collaborations in which Opera has been involved. You can also view samples of Opera’s early electromagnetic newsletters and contribute your own Opera story.

Famed for exceptional precision

Born in 1984, Opera Simulation Software as we know it today, began its life as a fledgling offshoot from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Famed for its exceptional precision and accuracy, the engineers behind Vector Fields, as it was then known, felt the software’s superior functionality could benefit many involved in magnet design worldwide, and took steps to make the software commercially available to experts in both research and industry.

Opera wins the Queens Award in 1992

As Opera’s functionality grew from strength to strength, a Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement followed in 1992. Opera’s commitment to accuracy continued through the 1990s, developing electrical machine applications, and expanding the range of electromagnetic problems Opera software could solve. By the early 2000s, and by closely following the pace of the expanding capacity of technology, Opera added De-magnetization solver in 2d (to be followed by 3d a few years later) and the thermal module TEMPO in 3d.

Making electromagnetic simulation sing

Bill Trowbridge, a founder and first Chairman of the company, was fascinated with the drama and music of opera. This led to the first Vector Fields’ modules being given operatic names, TOSCA and SCARPIA to name but two. SOPRANO and SCALA soon followed and before long the idea of using the name Opera for the whole software suite began to seem like an attractive idea. Renowned not just for its operatic module titles, but for the ability to reach new heights of precision, and make electromagnetic simulations sing like never before, the software’s new name fit well.

Opera joins forces with Cobham in 2005

In 2005 Vector Fields’ acquisition by Cobham was a natural aligning of strengths: Cobham’s commitment to innovation and specialist technical services, and Opera’s precision-leading electromagnetic functionality. Today Opera serves customers and users around the world in a variety of different industries, all of whom have come to know the Opera difference, and that when it comes to electromagnetic design it is best not just to be precise, but to be Opera precise.

Quench solver launched

Incorporating transient thermal with electromagnetic simulation, the launch of Opera’s Quench solver offered designers the opportunity to achieve a full analysis, as well as the added ability to perform static stress analysis at time points or include semi-analytic stress calculations. Quench was a revolutionary addition to Opera because it faced the challenge of setting up simulations that require highly non-linear materials data, giving users unique functionality.

Quench in a LTS magnet with an HTS insert

Explore covers of electromagnetic newsletters from the 1980s and 1990s:

Spring 1986

International co-operation a key priority for developing electromagnetic software

Spring 1992

Opera is a winner on personal computers

Summer 1992

Opera wins the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement

Spring 1993

Opera launches 2d, offering more simulation help for electrical designers

Spring 1994

The launch SOPRANO and better high frequency analysis

Winter 1995

Opera’s SCALA module helps simulate space charge

Winter 1995

Opera collaborates with CRIEPI of Japan

Winter 1997

Opera releases 3d rotating machine module

Take a look at some of the different EU projects and collaborations in which Opera has been involved: