Launched in September of 2004, The Chip History Center web site was originally developed by VLSI Research Inc as a response to many requests for a book on the history of Semiconductor Manufacturing. The goal was to be the Semiconductor Industry’s History Channel on the Internet. The scope would center around strengthening the industry’s infrastructure by providing a place for historians and educators to find an archive of videos and reports that document the semiconductor industry’s history and its development and to preserve and archive the history of the industry that opened the doors to the information age
It was the brainchild of G. Dan Hutcheson, who often used the flywheel effect of events in IC history to describe how current trends came to be and would likely continue. People kept asking him to write a book, which he was never convinced could get wide distribution considering the world had moved to the internet and was only a few years away from crossing into and even newer world of mobility and apps led by the mashup of the cellular phone and the PC to create what is now called the smart phone. These technologies were challenging tradition media with their freeconomics business models.
Dan also felt whatever was written would quickly be outdated, given the fast pace of technology. Plus, there was no way to capture in a book the breadth of material that had been compiled in VLSIresearch’s library since Dan’s father, Jerry Hutcheson had entered the industry in 1958. So, Dan decided that a new website would be a better way do this this, because it could be constantly updated.
The vision was to create a virtual museum on the history of the semiconductor industry that would provide a more complete history for educators than what is often constructed PR and social media marketeers who seek to elevate a company. It would start with some of the earliest events, such as the invention of The Field Effect Transistor (FET) in 1925 by Julius E. Lilienfeld in 1925 — yes that’s right 1925! While William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain often credited with the invention of the transistor, they only discovered it as it had been invented 22 years earlier. This is not to take away from the momentous engineering feat of these three being able to successfully demonstrate it on December 23, 1947 at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. But instead to point to the science that came before it.
This virtual museum of semiconductor history would be built on the unique combination of VLSIresearch’s library, the deep knowledge of its analysts from around the globe with 100’s of years of experience, VLSI’s centricity in Silicon Valley’s lifestyle and culture of innovation, and its unparalleled network that stretched deep into the IC manufacturing industry. Plus, it’s ongoing engagement with the businesses that make up its infrastructure, would make it possible to pass on new historical materials as they came available. With this, the Chip History Center was perfectly suited to capture and make freely available to the world the accomplishments of the semiconductor industry, which was already transforming the world in the 21st century on a level that railroads and steel had done in 19th and followed by the disruptions Autos, Airplanes, Electrification, Telephones, and Computers had brought to the world in the 20th century.
Since 2004, The ChipHistory Center has been able to provide easy-to-access and free information to researchers, historians, and educators with its Time Lines, Exhibits, and collections centered around the products and companies who have been at the center of this transformation. ChipHistory.org is most proud of the educational resources it has created for K-12 teachers: Content that shows how things work and put forth role models for children about people for whose lives have been greatly enriched by science and math with its Learn, People, and Hall of Fame sections.
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