Kilby's Monolithic Idea in as short as Two Months
“Of all of the developments of semiconductor industry in the past quarter century, this one was truly exciting and dramatic; it exceeded my expectations.”
In 1985, Jack Kilby came to Japan for the Tsukuba Science Expo, which included an exhibit of the integrated circuit which he invented. Kilby was as tall as 2m, surprisingly tall to my Japanese eyes. Kilby made some time to sit down with me for an interview. ----
Interview with Jack Kilby
The two-hour interview with Jack Kilby was held with special consideration by TI Japan, and was featured in the May 1985 issue of the Japanese magazine, Denshi Zairyo (EN: Electronic Materials and Parts). Below, you can see some of the important parts of the interview. ----
3) I am not a Scientist,
but an Engineer.
The last opportunity for me to meet Kilby was on September 9th, 2000, at a press conference in Tokyo. After a short comment by Kilby, we moved onto the Q&A session and I first asked, “Since your last visit to Japan, is there anything this time that has left a deep impression in your mind?” In reply,he said in his faltering way of speech he replied, “What impressed me the most was that I saw people, even as young as elementary school children with a mobile phone in one hand and talking, as if it was completely natural. ----
Marvelous Ideas from the Planar IC
When the wheels of time make huge turns, perhaps by invisible forces, people will inevitably head towards that direction.
The year after Jack Kilby announced his fundamental idea of the IC in the Southern Midwest of the United States, Fairchild Semiconductor, a newly founded company on the west coast created the planar technologies, which are the basic ---
Kilby vs. Noyce
Picture A shows the integrated flip-flop circuit invented by Jack Kilby, whose patent was submitted in February of 1959. It was configured with a mesa transistor, bulk resistor, and diffusion capacitor, connected with gold wire bondings.
Picture B shows the Planar IC invented by Robert Noyce, who submitted his patent in July of the same year. It was composted of an oxidized film which acted as an insulator, and interconnects ---
Engineers Inspired by an Magazine
The group that made the first Japanese-made IC prototype was a group in Electrotechnical Laboratory, affiliated with the former Agency of Industrial Science and Technology, and was inspired to make an effort by the big news about IC from the United States. At that time, the head of the transistor section of electronics dept. (later to become a professor at Tokyo Agricultural Engineering University), Yasuo Tarui, focused on the importance of the IC and worked on the prototype with a fellow researcher, Seiichi Denda. ----
7) A Tokyo Univ. Group’s “Solid-State Logic Circuit”
If we were to go on the subject of where Japan’s true first “Monolithic IC” was made, the chip developed by a Tokyo University group in the collaborative research and development work with NEC would be one possibility.This is shown in the 4th Joint Convention Record of the Four Electrical Engineering Institutes, held in 1961. In the thesis titled, “Solid-State Transistor Direct-Coupled Logic Circuit Components” four members of Tokyo University’s engineering department at the time - Hisayoshi Yanai, Takuo Sugano, Kunio Tada, and ----
NEC - The Forerunner of the Commercial Semiconductor IC
Both TI and Fairchild led the way in the commercialization of the IC in the USA, while NEC was the frontrunner in Japan.
NEC started work on IC development in 1961 and its first commercial IC sold from 1963 was a high-frequency, two-stage amplifier called [μPC1]. ----
Hitachi - The Trailblazer in MOS IC
The application of MOS IC’s had been keeping pace with bipolar IC’s, and the company at the front was
Hitachi.The key person who drove the Hitachi’s activity was Minoru Ohno (later to become President of Hitachi ULSI Engineering Company) who was regarded to be one of the leading engineers in MOS device development, comparable with RCA group. He presented his findings at the April and October Conferences of Institute of Electric Communications in Japan ( later EICE) in 1963. ----
“Rocket Sasaki” and His Calculator Strategy ＜To page top＞
The biggest contributor to the IC conversion of calculators was hands down the former executive vice president of Sharp, Akira Sasaki. Moving from Kobe Industries to Sharp in 1964, Sasaki took a look at the calculators that used thousands of transistors and diodes, and wondered, “With this condition, miniaturizing the calculator and cutting costs will be impossible. To innovate from business use to consumer use, implementing IC is inevitable.” ----
144-bits -- The first NMOS Memory
The change from magnetic core memory to transistor memory - the only computer maker to pull off a daring change like this would be the “computer giant”, IBM.In the late 1960s, IBM attempted to experimentally install their chips (bipolar buffer memory) to their mainframes.
Under those circumstances, NEC played a part in the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology’s large-scale project, “Ultra-high Performance Electronic Computer.” ----
 - The Chip Heard Around the World
As semiconductor memory advanced and evolved, the product that made a huge impact around the world was the world’s first 1k-bit MOS DRAM,  (shown in the picture) developed by Intel. The company was an R&D-oriented company founded by both R. Noyce and G. Moore after spinning out from Fairchild in 1968, and the first products which they worked on were memory chips in 1969, one year after establishing the new company. ----
Japanese Manufacturers Leading Ahead in DRAM with NMOS Technology
NEC, having sensitively detected the US movement, tried to catch up on the development delay from US manufacturers, and announced [µPD403], the first domestic 1K bit DRAM product in 1971. They then developed [µPD404] (shown in the picture) with design modification in 1972. ----
Toshiba’s Victory in Breaking “1M bit DRAM Wall”
Japanese DRAM manufacturers lagged behind US manufactures in the initial three generations up to 16K bit. But in the 64K and 256K bit generations, they dominated the market, and stood ahead of oversea manufacturers. But even for Japanese manufacturers, the 1M bit DRAM wall was very high. ----
 by Japan-US Co-development
Intel, who established their position in the DRAM market only two years after the company foundation, created big sensation in the industry by announcing the world first microprocessor [4004 ] (Picture A) in 1971.The trigger of this invention was the development request from Japanese middle class calculator manufacturer, Busicom. ----
“Calculator with Built-in Printer”, the First Application Product
Picture A is Busicom’s “Calculator with Built-in Printer” which was the first application product using . I took this photograph when I visited Intel Museum in 2005. This product was displayed somewhat proudly in the corner close to the entrance. The explanatory note stated, “The total number of sales reached 100 thousand.” ----
Celebration Party for Publication of “4004, Passion of My Youth “
One of the developers of microprocessor, Masatoshi Shima published a book titled, “Birth of Microprocessor - 4004, Passion of My Youth” from Iwanami Shoten, Publishers in August 1987. To celebrate this publication, the party was held at a hotel in Tokyo in December 1987. There were nine promotors of the party, including Junichi Nishizawa, Tadashi Sasaki and Matami Yasufuku. I was also one of the promotors. ----
The First Japanese Microprocessor was Toshiba’s 12 bit MPU
The first Japanese microprocessor was developed by Toshiba. Intel’s microprocessor announcement was in November 1971, while Toshiba’s announcement was May 1973. Even though Toshiba was a follower, the delay was only one and half years. The unusual point of this MPU was, as the product name of TLCS-12 (Picture) shows, it adopted 12 bit word length. At that time, Intel had already started sales of an 8 bit product , and was expected to announce a 16 bit product next. The industry wondered, “Why 12 bit?” ----
NEC’s Last (?) MPU
In the MPU market dominated by American players, Japanese manufacturers gradually built up their competitiveness, and the market share of Japanese manufacturers increased to 49% in 1986. Intel feared this situation, and they limited the Japanese second source supplier license only to Fujitsu in the late 16 bit generation, and then completely closed their door in the 32 bit generation.
The Best Seller of Assembly Kit＜To page top＞
The invention of microcomputer consequently brought about the personal computer era, and microcomputer assembly kit products were launched in this transition period. Particularly, the microcomputer assembly kit [TK-80], which was launched by NEC in 1976, became very popular in the Japanese market. This kit included all the components necessary to assemble a microcomputer, consisting of a CPU, memories and input/output LSI’s. In addition, ----
The “Training Kit” Boom
Although both were classified in the “microcomputer kit” category, NEC’s TK-80 was an assembly kit, while Mitsubishi Electric’s MELC 8/2 was sold as a preassembled product with parts on printed circuit boards. These kinds of products were classified as training kits or board computers. They were used by individuals and amateurs, but were mainly sold to equipment manufacturers. ----
22) The Impact of the Grassroots Computer
I first felt the arrival of the PC era when I took part in the "West-Coast Computer Fair" held in San Francisco, USA in April 1977. It was the first computer show to target amateurs and hobbyists, and a crowd of 20,000 people gathered for the two day session (the photo above is of one exhibition at the fair). ----
PET and the “First Year of the PC Era”
1977 was called the “first year of the personal computer era” as two American companies created personal computers, or PC’s for short in this year.
One of them was Commodore Business Machine's "PET-2001" (shown in the photo). Unlike conventional kit products, the features of the PET-2001 were that keyboards, cassette tapes, CRT displays and ----
The Appearance of the Second Black Ship – TI’s Advance to Japan
In 1964, a declaration was made by Texas Instruments (TI) to open IC factories in Japan. As for the semiconductor industry in Japan, the peaceful atmosphere at the time was disturbed by the appearance of this black ship (Kuro-fune, American ships that came to Japan in the 19th century to open up the country which had previously closed itself to the outside world). ----
Establishing Intel on a Lease
The photograph is a scene at the Intel factory at the time of establishment in 1970, and during the guide, president Robert Noyce said, "In Silicon Valley production equipment can be borrowed with a lease." Today Intel rules as the world's largest semiconductor maker, but at that time it was only a venture company with less than 100 employees. The headquarters and factory building was also a rental factory of about 2,000 square meters.
The First Articles on Silicon Valley
On the west coast of the United States, the southern coast of the San Francisco Bay (or the “bay area”) lies the region of the birthplace of the world’s semiconductor industry, where many major companies in this industry gather. This place is none other than Silicon Valley. The “valley” in the name refers to the Santa Clara Valley, with its rolling hills.
27) People Vanished from the Factories!
In the 1970s when IC production entered the mass production era, US manufacturers moved labor-intensive assembly processes to the Asian region. On the other hand, most Japanese manufacturers promoted full automation of assembly manufacturing lines by introducing pattern recognition technology in the wire bonding process, so as to improve reliability and cost reduction. In the newspaper titles such as "People vanished from semiconductor factories!" jumped out at readers.
Argument over Ion Implantation
As the capacity of DRAMs increased, ultra-expensive manufacturing equipment such as ion implantation equipment were introduced to semiconductor factories. The photograph is from Hitachi's 64K-bit DRAM production line in the early 1980s.
29) The Man Behind the Scenes of the VSLI Project
“The VLSI Technology Research Association” led by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (at the time) was following the footsteps of the NTT project. Five companies - Fujitsu, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, NEC and Toshiba participated in the project, and established a collaborative laboratory with the Electro Technical Laboratory , and they worked on development of VLSI. Funds from 1976 for the first four years reached approximately 70 billion yen, of which 29 billion yen was covered by government subsidies.
IBM’s Future System and NTT’s Response
It was around the fall of 1973 when the information was spread that IBM was working on the concept of “Future System” (FS) as a successor to the generation 3.5 “370 series” which implemented LSIs. It became a heated topic that it would be Super LSI or Giant LSI which would surpass the LSI in the previous generation.
The LSI Joint Research Laboratory and the Power of Cooperation
The VLSI Joint Research Laboratory became the literal center of the VLSI project. Researchers from the five participating companies and the Electro Technical Laboratory (ETL, now the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)) were dispatched to the research institute, and worked on the research of VLSI as a next generation semiconductor technology.
Impressive Achievements in Microfabrication Equipment
At the VLSI Technology Research Association, one of the development themes was the promotion of research and development of manufacturing equipment such as exposure equipment as a part of microfabrication technology, and the picture above is of high-speed electron beam lithography equipment by variable dimension shaping method.
33) Japan’s Original Technology – Flash Memory
With its peak in the 1980s, Japan enjoyed the name of "memory powerhouse" and it’s "special product", flash memory. Fujio Masuoka, who was employed at the Toshiba ULSI Research Laboratories (later a professor at Tohoku University) succeeded in its development in 1980 and first presented his work at the International Electronic Devices Meeting (IEDM) in December 1984.
The Delegation, “Learning in America”
From the 1970s to the 1980s, with the idea of "Learning in America", the delegation to the US were organized and dispatched at the timing of the IEEE show and WESCON.
The photograph is a commemorative photo when the team was organized in the early 70's to visit the powerful MOS technology company, AMI Semiconductors.
35) The Beginnings of “Japan Bashing”
“The Japanese Spies in Silicon Valley” - It was in the February 27, 1978 issue of the American economic magazine "Fortune" that posted this shocking article.
According to the magazine, "Silicon Valley is a friendly and peaceful place in general, but now it is full of anxiety and insecurity due to Japanese commercial attacks." "Japanese firms have placed local branch offices in Silicon Valley, collecting information openly or confidentially and buying samples of innovative products, which they send to Japan. "
36) US/Japan Talks Become Heated Arguments”
In response to the article of "Fortune", the Japan Electronics and Mechanical Industries Association (at the time, and now Japan Electronics and Information Technology Association, JEITA) took actions such as sending a protest letter, but in order to further persist the Japanese side's argument, they held the "Japan-U.S. Semiconductor seminar" in Palo Alto, a part of Silicon Valley, On November 14th.
37) The “US/Japan Reversal” Prediction came true
With the decline of power in the United States, and Japan’s enthusiastic efforts in the Semiconductor field, I contributed an article titled "Special Report - Japan-US Semiconductor War" in the June 1980 issue of "Chuo Koron (top-ranked general opinion magazine in Japan)". It was about 80 pages of 400 letter-sized papers, which became a 24-page article in the magazine with the first chapter title, "A Hypothesis: The Day When Silicon Valley Collapses".
38) The Absurd “20% Share Problem”
In the already-heated US-Japan semiconductor war, it was a problem to expand the market share of foreign semiconductors in the Japanese market that became more and more complicated. Japanese manufacturers had a market share of 20% in the US market, whereas US manufacturers had only about 10% in the Japanese market. The US side asserted that their share also be raised equally to 20%.
39) The Queen attended the Opening Ceremony
In 1983, NEC, which was working on overseas deployment of production bases, opened "NEC Semiconductors (UK)" in Scotland, UK, with the aim of expanding LSI production. Because Queen Elizabeth II attended the opening ceremony, it livened up newspapers and televisions.
40) Chinese Semiconductors under the Cultural Revolution
I visited the People’s Republic of China about 20 times since the first visit in 1965 before the Cultural Revolution, and the photo above is a semiconductor factory in Shanghai that I visited in 1980. Domestic production machines were handling the assembly of transistor which was the main product.
41) Israel, the Source for Human Resources
While living a long life as a journalist, I was given the opportunities to see a lot of factories in various countries, and Israel is one of them. I was invited for the opening of the development center of a large US semiconductor equipment maker, which helped me visit several semiconductor manufacturers in the country during that time.
42) Bringing US/Japan Experts Together with Okinawan Cuisine
Robert Noyce, thought to be the enemy of Japanese companies at the front of the US-Japan semiconductor war, would break into a smile to try to sell their products to Japanese customers and talked passionately about technology, regardless of time.
43) The “Man Who Created the Valley” is Gone
Robert Noyce, who was called "the man who created the Silicon Valley" and was admired as "an extraordinary engineer who was made by the semiconductor industry", suddenly passed away on June 3, 1990.
44) The Hybrid Champion
It was IBM 's "SLT (Solid Logic Technology)" that was dominating in the hybrid IC market. Circuits were formed on multiple ceramic substrates by using thick film technology and chip parts, and the substrates were stacked three-dimensionally and connected with each other. They were used as the logic circuit elements in the company's third generation computer "360 series" and became big news.
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