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The Back-Packer

Hans Snook, who founded Orange, got offered his first job in telecoms while back-packing in Hong Kong. It was with a local paging and computer company called Young Generation. “At the end of the year they convinced me to stay on one more year,” recalled Snook. As the second year came to its close, he gave notice to end the ...

Folk-Lore Flummoxed

Eight years ago, EW wrote: “According to semiconductor folk-lore this should be a very good year for the industry.” |”2008 is a US presidential election year, and that’s (nearly) always been a good year for the chip business.” “And 2008 is an Olympic year, which has also (nearly) always been a good year for the chip industry.” “Adding to the ...

A Tenuous Industry

Even when Intel was one of the world’s ten most valuable companies, and Gordon Moore was chairman of it, he still didn’t have his own parking space, complaining once: “We have so many people in Santa Clara that if you leave during the day, it’s difficult to get a parking space when you come back.” An unusual problem for someone ...

The Pilgrimage

When, in 1993, Shuji Nakamura invented the blue LED, for which he won the 2014 Nobel Prize for physics, his first thought was to show it to the greatest name in the Japanese semiconductor industry who had pioneered LEDs in the country, Jun’ichi Nichizawa. Nichizawa had tried to develop a blue LED ten years before without success. The great man ...

Education According To Mr Bell

As one of Edinburgh Royal High School’s less distinguished students, Alexander Graham Bell resented education conducted under strict discipline and consisting of memorising facts by rote. Bell derided the system of “giving out a certain amount of work which must be carried through in a given space of time and putting the children into orderly rows of desks.” Instead Bell ...

Being A Guinea Pig

Although Sony was the first Japanese company to license the transistor, other, bigger companies, like Toshiba, soon out-produced them. Sony co-founder Masaru Ibuka at first took umbrage when a magazine article described Sony as a ‘guinea pig’ in this respect, but soon appreciated that it was an unintended compliment. ”One of our most important jobs is determining how to apply ...

Why Psion Made Pocket Computers.

Psion is one of those start-ups which was profitable from Day 1. “In the first year – 1980- turnover was £120,000 and I made £12,000 profit after paying my salary,” recalls founding CEO David Potter, “and I could see I was going to make a great deal more the following year.” Potter had been going to people who were writing ...

The Promise That Was Never Kept

Ten years ago, half a dozen years on from the 3G auctions, everyone was getting fed up with the slow roll-out of 3G and the poor, unreliable, spotty service. Michel Mayer, then CEO of Freescale, which was still in the wireless business at that point, was vocal in his condemnation of the network operators. “The reason for the slow roll-out ...

Asparagus or Spaghetti?

Eight years ago, the then CTO of NXP, was contemplating that perennial bugbear of the electronics industry – complexity. He boiled it down to a simple choice: Spaghetti or Asparagus?  He reckoned that the industry was moving from spaghetti-like electronics systems design to asparagus-like systems design. “Systems have become very complex. In terms of the architectural challenge it is phenomenal”, said ...

The Man Who Went Multi-Core 25 Years Early

Multicore has been the thing ever since the industry ran out of GHz but, 35 years ago, it wasn’t. “We were 25 years early”, says David May, Professor of Computer Science at Bristol University, Fellow of the Royal Society, co-founder and CTO of  XMOS, architect of the Chameleon microprocessor which became the Hitachi SH, and, most famously of all, the architect ...