Articles, Blog, ,

Made in the USA | The History of the Integrated Circuit


What we’re going through now is a fundamental
cultural shift. We’re handing over more and more responsibilities
for life, and our society, and civilization to our machines. Transportation, communications, health, the
infrastructure of our world. We’re talking about A.I. now where the robots
are thinking for themselves even to the brink of consciousness. I always want to know where’s the human
going to be in the story. What’s it going to be like to be human in
a world where the machines now act without asking us? We’ve made this incredible technological jump
in one human lifetime. All because of Bob Noyce and the integrated
circuit. Father of Silicon Valley is a term I hear
used to describe Bob. How do you feel when you hear that term? A little humble, little proud, what can I
say? A new day has dawned. The integrated circuit gives us capabilities
that couldn’t have been imagined just a decade ago. One question which we might ask is,  “Why
do people care about integrated circuits?” The integrated circuit is the most important
invention in Silicon Valley history. To understand the importance integrated circuit,
we need to back up and look at the vacuum tube. The very first computer at scale ran on valves. The heart of all these electronic systems
had been in the vacuum tube. Valves were big and fragile. The breakthrough? The transistor. The transistor made it much more sturdy and
durable. These tiny transistors are destined to play
a big part in our electronic age. The year is 1959. Bob Noyce is running a company called Fairchild
Semiconductor. ] Initially Fairchild was going to be a transistor
company. But Bob Noyce, he had an idea for taking that
solid state transistor and making it flat. You take a sheet of silicon and then you print
the circuitry on top of it, metal. It turns out you can take that and supercharge
it. Reproducing it by the dozens and by the hundreds. And now we do billions. Integrated circuits now perform critical tasks
in almost all areas of health care. It is in your wrist watch. Modern transportation systems. Your pocket calculator. Comunication that is instantaneous and global. Automatic street lights and space shuttles. It is everywhere. This tiny piece of silicon is revolutionizing
the way we live. Fairchild gets rich making the integrated
circuit. But it was just volatile. The parent company Fairchild back east didn’t
really support it. They were seen as a cash cow, and took the
money out of it. So everybody quit. Noyce leaves with Gordon Moore and Andy Grove
to found Intel. Within a decade. They were being called the most important
company in the world. To understand Robert Noyce and why he was
such an important historic figure, you first need to understand the boy. Growing up in Grinnell, Iowa. Son of an itinerant preacher. This was a world of tight community. I grew up in small town America, which had
to be self-sufficient. If something was broke you fixed it yourself. And he brought that to Intel. When they started to build Intel, in addition
to making integrated circuit technology, they also wanted to make a company that was like
nothing that had ever existed. It was everything from saying, “There won’t
be any corner offices. Everyone will have the same space.” The senior executives were just in other cubicles. I remember going into Noyce’s office — indistinguishable
from anybody else’s. But on the wall he had the National Medal
of Science. United States’ highest civilian award. He also believes that everyone should have
a piece of the company. The idea of giving out stock options to employees,
even like secretaries. That was, circa 1968, pretty radical. That just wasn’t done on the east coast. The revolution of Silicon Valley is as much
cultural as it is technological. You know in some senses we didn’t see what
the impact of the integrated circuit would be when that first came out. Its effect has been revolutionary. 1965. Gordon Moore is the chief scientist at Fairchild. He’s asked to write an article for an electronics
magazine. He sits down with a sheet of graph paper. It’s only like the fourth or fifth generation
of memory chips. And he plots out those for generations in
terms of capacity. And he realizes they’re already going off
the top of the page. So it gets some logarithmic paper and he plots
it again. And he gets a straight line. He made a prediction for 10 years, a thousand-fold
increase in complexity. That was a wild extrapolation of very little
data. One of my colleagues dubbed this Moore’s Law. It basically said either the size is going
to get smaller, the capacity is going to get greater, or the price is going to get cheaper
by a factor of two every two years. I always thought that Moore’s Law is a promise,
right? The promises that every generation will be
better than the one that came before. By a factor of two. And every one will offer more possibility
and more potential. By a factor of two. And that that cadence will continue. There is no precedent in the history of mankind
for anything like this. By a factor of two. So he writes an article, he says, you know
what this is going at this pace, by the 1980s we’re going to have that sum, by 2000 we’re
going to have this… and it all comes true. “That was far more accurate than I could
have anticipated.” The amazing thing is, Moore’s Law has held
up now for 50 plus years. And there’s no indication that it’s really
going to end. We talk about every few years about Moore’s
Law slowing down, and has slowed down a little bit. But human innovation keeps coming up with
replacement technology that maintains Moore’s Law, which is why now we’re talking about
quantum technology. Instead of the ones and zeros of traditional
computing, in quantum computing you still have ones and zeros, but you also have superposed
states, where it can be both 1 and 0 at the same time. Quantum computers may be a million times even
a billion times faster than today’s fastest supercomputers. So there’s always doubt that Moore’s Law will
keep going. But so far they’ve managed to punch through
every time they hit a wall. They’ve never stopped advancing the technology,
making it smaller and smaller. As we look on into the future, we’re going
to find that we can in effect put ourselves wherever we want to be without moving. We can create the environment that we want
around us. The great contribution of Moore’s Law in the
big picture is that it brings intelligence to everything. The age of statistics is over. We don’t need to sample anymore. We can just measure everything. We can measure every bird in the sky, every
fish that goes by the coast of Australia. We can do all of those things because of Moore’s
Law has brought us to the point that intelligence can be embedded in anything. How do I feel about those changes? A combination of exhilaration and terror. Exhilaration because, boy we’ve got a lot
of cool toys now… medical technology we’re expanding lifespans we’re curing diseases
that were traditionally fatal. Those are wonderful things. By the same token, smart machines robots 24/7
365 surveillance of our lives? Those are deeply worrying things about what
it means to be a human being. But I have tremendous faith in human nature. We humans have survived an awful lot for a
couple of billion years. I think the lesson that Bob Noyce is that
no matter how advanced the technology gets, you have to stay human. It’s very easy to become stratified and lose
that sense of “we’re all in this together.” To get a sneak preview of things to come we
spoke with a pioneer of the electronics industry Dr. Robert Noyce played a pivotal role in
developing the integrated circuit, the solid state memory, and the microprocessor. Where Do We Go From Here? Where is the limit? Well I don’t see any stopping. And I think the time is here for inventing
new approaches. New solutions to these various problems. For all of those who will be the achievers
of the future. Thanks very much.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. An Oath needs to be established within the community of Technologists in Silicon Valley that all Developments be made / used for Peaceful & Humanitarian purposes rather than for Fraudulent practices of Both Governments & Individuals.

  2. 7:40 'making it smaller and smaller'. This is due to improvements in the machines that chip manufacturers like Intel use to make their chips. The dominant and technologically most advanced manufacturer of these ic making machines is a Dutch company you probably never heard of called ASML.

  3. Hmm.
    The IC is a BRITISH idea, and was first manufactured by the GERMANS. Where does the US come into this? It has FA to do with it!
    Nice try but you cannot rewrite history, or erase it.

  4. Let us remember – this was just another 100% white male effort. The glorious white male is the greatest gift mankind has ever seen.

  5. Not everyone can or will be an acheiver in the future. I hope we figure out how to include everyone this time.✌️

  6. This is an incredible breakdown of something so many of us take for granted. Thank you for this brief glimpse into one of the greatest developments of the age.

  7. "Moore's law still going strong, the age of statistics is over"; I think someone had a brainfart – and that ain't yours truly…

Related Post