When The US IC Industry Was Rocked On Its Heels
At a conference in 1979 Ed Hayes of HP set the US chip industry back on his heels.
In his presentation he showed that the quality of Japanese ICs was not only better than the quality of US ICs it was an order of magnitude better.
What’s more, added Hayes, the Japanese delivered on time.
US President Dwight D Eisenhower had asked Motorola CEO Bob Galvin to help the Japanese build a semiconductor industry and the Americans had licensed their products and processes to Japanese companies.
So it was galling for the Americans to find that they had been overtaken by their proteges.
By 1984, the Japanese had taken 47% of the industry’s biggest product segment, DRAM, and by 1987 they had 85% of the DRAM business and half of the entire semiconductor market.
When the Americans realized that Japanese superiority had come from their adoption of the quality practices preached by two Americans, William Deming and Joseph Juran, they figured out what they needed to do to turn the situation round.