Why do we call these “DuPont” connectors?

It’s a question many (including myself) have asked, and despite having written about these for years, haven’t been able to offer anything more than a vague explanation. The answer to this question unfortunately lives a long time in the past, perhaps 30 years ago, isn’t written down anywhere making it quite difficult to dig out.

I may now finally have connected the dots.

The company we have to start with is Berg Electronics, originally based in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. It was them who introduced the Mini-PV connector in the 1950s which looks very similar the connectors we call “DuPont” connectors, and is the first type of its kind. But they’re not the same. This page details the differences.

The vintage computing community often refers to Mini-PV connectors as “Berg” connectors. Fair point. They are. Why didn’t this name also become associated with the more modern clone type connectors?

To piece the story together, the easiest way is to look at the identification plates on historic crimp tools.

Plate from a vintage Mini-PV crimp tool dating from before 1972. No mention of du Pont yet.

Enter Du Pont

In 1972 du Pont acquired Berg, from this point onwards all tooling and documentation carried the du Pont name, however still with Berg as the headline brand well into the 1980s.

Plate from a likely early 1980s vintage Mini-PV crimp tool

For most of its existence, Berg was a division of du Pont, giving us the first (albeit cryptic) clue as to the origin of this term. Adding further confusion to the picture, “Berg connector” was already an established vernacular term by that point. It must be a matter of timing…

Enter the clones

Berg / du Pont “Mini-PV” (left) connectors next to common clone type (right) from unknown manufacturer.

In the early to mid 1990s someone, somewhere worked out that there was a market for a connector very much like Mini-PV, but cheaper. It appears to be around this time that the first “DuPont” clones appeared. I don’t have any proof of this date range, this is based purely on observation having dismantled copious amounts of vintage computer equipment. I’ve not been able to establish the first manufacturer the original copies of the Mini-PV design. Harwin M20 is a product line from a well known manufacturer – they may be the original creator however I’ve not confirmed it.

The design of the newer clones is quite different, with the contact being stamped from a single piece of brass. The contacts are enlarged to allow for cheaper and easier bending. Unfortunately this made contacts and housings incompatible with the original type.

In the early days it’s unlikely that anyone would have purchased clone connectors for end user consumption, indeed I recall fruitless attempts to try to source some 20 or more years ago, Mini-PV was obtainable, but too expensive for me at the time. More likely, clones were found inside of low cost consumer products like computers, and didn’t have any branding or identification numbers.

Today eBay has connected us en-masse with the typically far eastern manufacturers of these connectors, which to-date, still don’t have an official name. Irrespective of whether not they could be purchased by the average joe, the average joe was seeing an awful lot of them. A name was needed.

Plate from a likely late 1980s / early 1990s vintage Mini-PV crimp tool

Once again, looking at serial numbers on Mini-PV crimp tool identification plates, we can see that around the time when clones seem to have first appeared, the Berg brand name is dumped, replaced with Du Pont. A historic news article tells us this change likely occurred in 1987, just before the first clones are seen.

This looks to be the story. The Du Pont name was adopted because at the time they were first seen, that is the brand the closest resembling connector was sold under, and clearly people who were discussing them were aware of it. Which people exactly is also an interesting question. It’s possible that it was likely Taiwanese manufacturers who adopted the term, and are now pushing it back into the west via eBay. Who knows.

In any case the term should be regarded as purely vernacular as du Pont did not have a hand in the creation of the clone type connectors this now refers to.

Exit Du Pont

Plate from a late 1990s Mini-PV applicator. The address stated remains the current headquarters of this product line (now Amphenol ICC).

In 1993 du Pont sold its connector division to HM Capital Parters who re-instated the Berg brand. The company was then flogged to FCI in 1998, after which point the brand ceased to exist entirely.

All of this tells us that du Pont had a finger in this particular pie for at least a couple of decades, but that du Pont branding for these connectors and tools only lasted for a decade or less. The very same decade that the “DuPont” clone connector rose to prominence.

Further reading

I have a detailed page covering both original Mini-PV and clone types.

Another interesting article about the history of Berg and PV connectors.

Know something I haven’t mentioned here?

Please drop a comment!

Posted in Crimp tools and connectors

17 thoughts on “Why do we call these “DuPont” connectors?

    1. Oh that’s easy to answer. It was probably Australians who first coined the term. They like to truncate all but the first syllable and replace it with an ‘O’.

  1. I love the fact that there is someone out there to find this niche stuff out and put it online for others. Thank you for the good read!

  2. HI, I recognize that I have an insufferably pedantic streak running through me and I apologize in advance. I have rewritten one of your paragraphs:

    The company we have to start with is Berg Electronics, originally based in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. In the 1960s—or even as far back as the 1950s—they introduced the Mini-PV connector, which was the first of its kind, and while it’s very similar to the connectors we call “DuPont” today, it’s not the same. This page details the differences.

      1. You don’t understand who you’re talking to. I was just re-reading this article and found myself bristling at a paragraph. I instinctively dove straight for the comment section only to re-discover my comment on the same matter from nearly two years ago 😂.

        Go figure.

        You want me to edit your articles? I’M CRAZY. I’LL DO IT.

  3. In the distant past I used to work on an assembly line where we fitted DuPont connectors. These were the same as the 0.1″ Berg connectors except that they did have wings to get the polarising of the connector right. Except for the thickness they were similar to Molex KK connectors.
    I remember that the shells were always blue, that the shells were in unmarked bags but that the crimp terminals were in bags marked “DuPont”. A feature rarely seen now is that they were often used with blanking pins so that the same size connector could be used in many places without the possibility of interchanging connectors.

  4. My dad Richard K. Dennis left AMP when I was a child to work for “Mr. Berg”. He was the youngest die designer in the shop and worked hard to introduce high-speed stamping techniques. Understand that at the time a “high speed” die was 2 or 3 feet long and due to the laws of physics could only be driven 200-300 spm. Dad trimmed the die to 12-18 inches and upped the speed to 500-1000 spm. The required presses were bought, but the senior engineers refused to install or design for them. Eventually, dad bought the machinery and set up Lantz Tool and Die with two partners. He bought them out and reorganized as Die-Tech in 1972. To this day, the Die-Tech produces high-reliabilty connectors for Amphenol, and the ubiquitous Tip Tool that extracts pins from the connector shells. I recall building machinery for Die-Tech in the late 90’s with Amphenol shells, and dad walked by and picked up a pin and laughed – “I designed these in the 1950’s. People are still using them?”

  5. I worked for Berg from 1974 to 1975 as a craftsman. My involvement was with Mini PV product engineering. We were working on “gold dot” contacts and solder tab designs. I worked with the test lab and prototype shop a good bit.

    1. And as the PV Product Engineer, I was your engineering manager and developer of the Gold Dot technology. Hi Dan!

      1. I do like how many former employees have come forward to comment on this article.

        For what it is worth, I paid in full for two reels of genuine PV contacts and I use them every day.

  6. Between 1976-1980 I worked in Engineering Physics at the Dupont Experimental Station in Wilmington, DE. My group had a continuing series of R&D projects with the Berg Electronics plant in Emigsville, close to York, PA. My job was to troubleshoot and fix problems in Berg’s off-line gold plating thickness measurement process control lab. I also custom built an x-ray fluorescence device that allowed the plant to do semi-automated (and fast!) gold plating solution concentration analysis. I left on 1981 and moved into the field of college physics/chemistry teaching. I liked working at the plant. The people were very skilled, and nice to work with.

    1. Thanks for sharing the memory. Agrees with what I’ve read in that it was an exciting and innovative company at the time.

      It’s a real shame the state of some of the former Berg business units these days. It’s like Amphenol doesn’t care about them, not interesting in trying to return them to competitiveness instead just running them down till they die.

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