The company roots go back to Carl Zeiss Jena and Cambridge Instruments and their long and successful histories. Back in the 1950's both Carl Zeiss Jena in Germany as well as Cambridge Instruments started projects for the development of commercial electron-beam equipment.
In 1974, the first commercial Shaped Beam system was launched based on fundamental patents still held by Vistec. With regard to Gaussian Beam, Cambridge Instruments Ltd. and its strong partnership with Cambridge University as well as to the Electron Beam Lithography Group of Philips Eindhoven was the fundamental to the company's long standing success.
From 1996 the Gaussian Beam and Shaped Beam lithography businesses were part of Leica Microsystems. They have been operating under the Vistec branch since 2005.