Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.
Pat Haggerty And The Art Of Pervasiveness
Pat Haggerty, CEO of Texas Instruments, was one of the greatest CEOs the semiconductor industry ever had. Three fabulous initiatives show why Haggerty was so great.
In 1954, two years after the famous Bell Symposium which imparted the knowledge for manufacturing transistors, TI had become one of the leading transistor manufacturers.
Haggerty had been the prime mover for getting TI, then a geophysical instrumentation company, into transistors.
Bell had initially been reluctant to sell TI a licence to manufacture transistors, thinking the company did not have the requisite skills or knowledge to get involved.
But Haggerty persuaded Bell, paid the $25,000 fee, got the licence and the manufacturing knowledge and started up a production line at TI.
Having got this far, Haggerty figured that he needed to put transistors on the map. He wanted to make ordinary people aware of them, and he wanted to get transistors into everyday products.
Haggerty rallied his engineers and gave them a spec: a portable radio, small enough to fit in a pocket, powered by penlight batteries. They built one.
The big radio firms turned down the chance to manufacture the TI radio saying there was no market for pocket radios.
But a small radio company, Regency, took up the idea and sold more than 100,000 of the radios in 1954.
One buyer was Thomas Watson Jnr, the boss of IBM. He bought a hundred of the radios, gave them to his engineers, and encouraged them to put transistors in IBM’s computers.
It opened up a huge new market for TI.
Haggerty’s second great initiative came to him on a plane ride, in 1965, with Jack Kilby, the inventor of the IC.
In 1965 chips were being manufactured and sold in modest volumes but, like the transistor in 1954, hardly anyone knew about them.
Once again Haggerty decided that a massive demonstration of the new technology’s capabilities were required if the chip was to get into the mainstream.
The right product to demonstrate the power of the chip would be, he decided, a cheap, light, tiny pocket calculator.
In those days electric calculators cost over $1,000, ran off 120V, and weighed as much as a modern desktop PC.
Before getting off the flight, Haggerty had entrusted Kilby with the task of coming up with a portable calculator.
Within 12 months Kilby had completed the design of a four function, 2.5lb, calculator costing $150.
It took four more years, until 1971, to get it into production. In 1972 five million were sold in the US.
The pocket calculator conquered the world, and opened the world’s eyes to the potential of the chip.Tags: pat haggerty, pocket radios, portable radio, prime mover, requisite skills, texas instruments