You have to admire the Yanks for their perseverance and their creativity. Having invented the DRAM in 1968 at IBM, and put the first one on the market with Intel’s 1103 in 1971, it looked, in 1985 as though they were out of it.
The year before, a tidal wave of Japanese 64K DRAMs had swamped the US industry. By 85, you could buy four for a buck.
Every US DRAM supplier, except TI and Micron, pulled out of what had been their staple product. Micron later bought TI’s DRAM business.
The Japanese quickly swept to 50%+ worldwide semiconductor market share.
Earlier this week, Micron it bought Japan’s last DRAM maker, Elpida, which made Micron the world No.2 DRAM maker.
Back in 85, no one would have imagined that America would ever again have the world No.2 DRAM maker.
Micron itself was an aberration, spawned from a misjudged poaching raid by Inmos on Mostek’s DRAM design team back in 1978.
Mostek wrestled its stars back by promising to set them up as a separate company, and their team leader – Ward Parkinson – who had been a schoolboy science prodigy – asked a mate of his who had a rich Dad if his father would back them.
Dad – the Idaho potato chip king J.R.Simplot – agreed predicting: “We’re going to have some millionaires out here in the sage-brush.”
How right he was.