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Fable

Fable: The Man Who Discovered A Semiconductor

140 years ago a scientist noticed rectification in a circuit made of copper wires and screws. When he cleaned the wires he found the rectification didn’t occur. When he didn’t use the circuit for a while, rectification occurred. He then realised that copper oxide is a semiconductor. He was the first person to come up with the idea of anti-matter, ...

Fable: The Exec Who Made Mistakes

There was once an executive who was reluctant to make the transition from discretes to ICs. He was slow to engage in the transition from bipolar to MOS. Before the PC market developed, he turned down a proposal to make PCs. He became the richest man in the industry. Moral: You don’t have to be right all the time

Fable: The Man Who Kicked Off Four Decades Of Scaling

There was once a scientist who scaled an eight micron process to one micron and found that so long as the electric field was constant, performance stayed the same. The scientist’s colleagues went further and found that, with a constant electric field, practically every other characteristic of MOS transistors – density, speed and energy efficiency – could be improved by ...

Fable: The Company Ruined By Bad Luck

45 years ago a company showed IEDM 1970 the first-ever 1K N-MOS DRAM. The audience actually boo-ed the presentation on the grounds that N-MOS was unstable. The chip had not been developed in California, nor in Texas, it was developed in New York by an IBM spin-off. It had a 100ns access time, a 400ns cycle time, measured 125 mils ...

Fable: The Scientist Who Followed His Gut

47 years ago a scientist invented a 256-bit MOS RAM. His management did not think it was the right replacement technology for magnetic cores, they thought thin-film memory was the right way to go. So the scientist and two colleagues, one of whom was to found a British chip company ten years later, resigned to set up their own semiconductor ...

Fable: The Company Which Didn’t Keep Up

There was once a company which set up a bipolar manufacturing line in 1972 and committed itself to world bipolar leadership. It invented the semi-custom semiconductor market and still had a 30% world market share of it in 1980. It made the gate arrays for Sir Clive Sinclair’s ZX81 and Spectrum and for the Acorn Electron It was the first ...

Fable: When Buying A Foreign Chip Company Was A Bad Idea Part 2.

With China seemingly hell-bent on buying foreign chip companies to acquire technology, it is as well to take note of the history of some of these purchases. 35 years ago a French company bought a U.S. Chip company to gain access to chip technology. The French poured money into the company but it’s key men left and its revenues stagnated. After ...

Fable: When Buying A Foreign Chip Company Was A Bad Idea

As China may be about to find out, buying US companies to acquire technology can be a mistake. In the 70s, before Japan became the world dominant chip player, a Japanese company bought a US chip company. The Japanese company sent out a young exec to run the US company. The exec found that the U.S. company’s fab, which was ...

Fable: The Entrepreneur Who Tried Again

There was once an Intel marketing guy who decamped with a few other Intel guys to found a company to make E2PROMs. Shortly afterwards, each of the founders was woken up at home in the middle of the night to receive a writ from Intel. The company got funded and built a fab, though it was criticised for spending start-up ...