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The Makers of the Microchip Creating the Planar Integrated Circuit, Establishing Silicon Valley Christophe Lécuyer and David C. Brock.

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Presentation on theme: "The Makers of the Microchip Creating the Planar Integrated Circuit, Establishing Silicon Valley Christophe Lécuyer and David C. Brock."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Makers of the Microchip Creating the Planar Integrated Circuit, Establishing Silicon Valley Christophe Lécuyer and David C. Brock

2 The history of a seminal company: Fairchild Semiconductor The history of two fundamental innovations: the planar process and the integrated circuit A documentary history approach: follow the emergence of the firm and the creation of the microchip through the documents produced by the founders and other key engineers at Fairchild Semiconductor

3 Microchips and the digitalization of the human-built world Microchips and the Silicon Valley dynamic Fairchild was a critical site for establishing the developmental path of digital electronics Fairchild was important for initiating key aspects of the Silicon Valley dynamic The microchip and the Silicon Valley dynamic emerged in the context of three logics: - Silicon logic - User logic - Competitive logic

4 Fairchild Semiconductors establishment (October 1957) A very unusual founding team Complementary skills and competencies (chemistry, solid state physics, optics, metallurgy, electrical engineering, industrial and mechanical engineering, glass blowing…)

5 Where Fairchild came from: The Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory Rebellion against William Shockley (Shockleys management style and differences of opinion about the direction of the firm) The letter to Hayden Stone & Company Financing from Fairchild Camera and Instrument (an early form of venture capital)

6 Sputnik and the growth of the military market for silicon devices Focus on the development of manufacturing processes The order from IBM (core driver for an airborne computer) Development of two transistors: NPN (Moore) and PNP (Hoerni) Introduction of the first diffused silicon transistor to the market (August 1958); monopoly position for about a year

7 The reliability problems of Fairchilds first transistor (the tapping test problem) Hoerni and the development of the planar process (January-March 1959) Hoerni returned to ideas he had jotted down in his notebook in December 1957: - Oxide layer - Protected junctions - Contacts He set these ideas aside for about a year

8 Starting in January 1959, Hoerni worked on the planar process (for a PNP transistor, and then an NPN transistor) Hoerni made the first planar transistor in March 1959 Decision to invest significant resources in the development of the planar - Much improved reliability and performance - Hoernis showmanship - Autonetics and the demands of military computing (Minuteman) - Competitive pressures (Rheem Semiconductor)

9 Difficult transfer to production (major yield problems) Fairchild introduced the planar transistor at the IRE show in March 1960 Fairchilds engineers planarized the firms transistor line and developed new planar transistors and diodes (new plant in San Rafael) The starting point for the last 50 years of semiconductor manufacturing technology

10 The planar process gave Fairchild Semiconductor a significant advantage in the development of miniaturized electronic circuits Different approaches to miniaturization: - Hybrid circuits - Thin film circuits - Functional devices - Integrated circuits (TI, Sprague) Robert Noyce used Hoernis invention of the planar to conceive a practical form of the integrated circuit

11 Competition with TI and the launch of a crash program on microcircuits directed by Jay Last (Summer 1959) The challenge of isolation Last and the invention of the physically isolated integrated circuit Proof of concept for the planar integrated circuit

12 The diffusion isolated integrated circuit A concept first proposed by Noyce Idea revisited and realized by Lionel Kattner and Isy Haas (September 1960) Introduction of an entire line of integrated circuits to the market in March 1961 Fairchilds planar integrated circuits set the developmental path for semiconductor technology

13 Fairchild Semiconductors innovations in the 1960s: the development of MOS and the creation of commercial markets for silicon transistors and integrated circuits Formation of new integrated circuit firms out of Fairchild: Amelco, Signetics, General MicroElectronics (first wave, early 1960s); National, Intel, Intersil… (second wave, late 1960s and early 1970s) Emergence of the venture capital business in Silicon Valley The second wave of Fairchild spin-offs, often funded by venture capital, created the microchips that accelerated the digitalization of the human-built world


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