The origin of Solid State Technology began in 1958, the same year that Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments invented the integrated circuit (the invention of the transistor is credited to Bell Labs; the first transistor was demonstrated on December 23, 1947). The initial name of the magazine was “Semiconductor Products” and that was changed to “Semiconductor Products and Solid State Technology” by 1962.
In this news series, we’ll look back 50 years and see how much has changed.. or perhaps more often, how much hasn’t.
In January of 1964, it was clear that microelectronics were here to stay, and were rapidly changing the shape of the electronics industry (Gordon Moore did not propose his now famous Moore’s Law until April of 1965, more than a year later. Intel was not founded until 1968). In the Editorial in the January 1964 issue, Editor Sam Marshall writes that estimates for the market for microelectronics in 1964 “vary between 25 and 50 million dollars.” The market exceeded $300 billion in 2013.
Sams adds: “There is a parallelism between the manner in which semiconductor devices have gradually displaced vacuum tubes, and the manner in which microelectronics is encroaching into the territory formerly enjoyed by discrete devices such as diodes and transistors. This movement is directly related to the increasing demands for higher frequencies of operation, greater miniaturization and surprisingly enough, reliability.”
Sam also foresaw how the relationship between design and manufacturing was getting more complex and even hints at the trends toward the fabless/foundry model. He said that a new order of procedure must be followed. “The engineer must either turn over his proprietary design to a firm engaged in microelectronics manufacturing or he might search the open market for functional blocks that will best meet his needs. In either case, an unhealthy situation arises. In the first case, the design engineer has to reveal information which could jeopardize his firm’s market advantage. In the second case, the manufacturer who merely purchases functional blocks and assembles them into a product justifiably feels that he has lost his status as that of a true manufacturer and has become nothing more than an assembler and tester.”
The issue had a feature on electron beam processing of semiconductor devices, which noted how useful the analysis of X-rays generated from e-beams could be for metrology. “The technique is extremely useful in determining which elements are present on the specimen surface as well as detecting local variations in their concentrations after such treatments as localized melting, annealing, diffusion and oxidation.” Today, energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy or (commonly called EDS, EDX or EDAX) is widely used.
Perhaps the most obvious change in the last 50 years: wafer size. Note these two advertisements, one touting a production breakthrough of 40mm wafers (that’s a little over 1.5 inches), the other depicting a wafering machine. Of course, today the industry is working with 300mm wafers and contemplating going to 450mm. It’s also interesting to note the die size, number of die per wafer and pincount shown on the left, although it’s hard to say if that was typical of the time.
Other odds and ends from 1964: Kulicke and Soffa reported its sales fro the fiscal year ending Sept 30, 1063, were $3,615,519, an increase of 95%. ITT planned to construct a 135,00 square foot, $3 million plant in West Palm Beach, FL to manufacture integrated circuits and other semiconductor devices. Philco Corp.’s Lansdale Division (which produced Indium Antimonide IR detectors among other types of electronics), planned to triple the divisions facilities for microelectronic engineering and product development, with plans to develop new production facilities capable of producing 10,000 silicon microcircuits per month by Spring of 1964. Total 1964 R&D expenditures in the U.S. were expected to reach the $20 billion mark. In 1963, about $18.3 billion has been spent on R&D compared to $16.6 billion in 1962. Advanced achieved with graphite and carbon as engineering materials were detailed by Speer Carbon Co. A novel approach to the fabrication of a high speed tunnel diode was described by IBM: a gallium arsenide, planar, epitaxial device. Today, the potential of tunnel transistors is being discussed as a replacement to FETs. Based in part on what? Gallium Arsenide! The more things change…
Coming next month: GaAs IR emitters, tunnel diode amplifers and thermal resistance of transistors.