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The Chip : How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution Paperback – October 9, 2001
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Satisfying as both biography and basic science text, the book perfectly captures the independence and near-obsessive problem-solving talents of the two men. Though ultimately only one of them (Noyce) ended up with legal rights to the invention, they shared a respect for each other that persisted throughout their careers. Since Kilby won the 2000 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work, the story is all the more compelling and intriguing over 40 years after the invention. Reid's work uncovers human dimensions we'd never expect to see from 1950s engineering research. --Rob Lightner
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
- Publisher : Random House Trade Paperbacks; Revised edition (October 9, 2001)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0375758283
- ISBN-13 : 978-0375758287
- Item Weight : 9.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.29 x 0.71 x 7.94 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #123,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Reviewed in the United States on June 2, 2021
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Lots of emphasis on bipolar device history and function, necessary to the story but a much smaller piece of the broader scope of a world today based almost entirely on field effect technology, for much the same reasons that Reid cites as the little recognized driver for the development of integrated devices.
Indeed, the first patents for solid state devices were for three terminal field effect constructs, back as far as 1926, long before bipolar constructs were significant outside the theoretical study of solid state properties.
The effect of the DARPA VLSI challenge that led directly to Lynn Conway and Carver Mead’s breakthrough methodology (still the basis of chip design today) specifically addressed another deeper “tyranny of numbers” that threatened to stall the pace of integrated circuit progress, the problem of keeping the organization and understanding of so many elements straight.
The task of soldering all those connections perfectly is gravy compared to trying to be certain that everything is connected to the right node. Organizing and vetting proper function of the integration itself began to be a problem as soon as the first masks were produced.
CMOS, PMOS and NMOS processes were already in use when Reid’s first edition was published, and I would guess some of the revisions in the current version were made to try to reflect a better sense of the full-on arrival of field effect technology that likely was originally missed.
(Witness the embarrassing mislabeling of bipolar NPN structures with the wrong NFET equivalents, collector-base-emitter replaced with source-gate-drain, the order flipped, a common enough confusion that usually doesn’t last. But hey - a base is not a gate. It works differently, more like a bus having only one driver, but each one carries lots of passengers.)
All in all, a pretty good bunch of important historical perspective; having been there through most of it, working with all of it professionally, it was a fun retrospective. (Kilby and Noyce were a bit before my time, but I was aware of who they were and what they were trying to do as my career got legs.)
Recommended, a good place to start gathering the bigger picture of how that little gizmo came to be planted so firmly in everyone’s everyday life, with only a few hiccups that won’t mislead in any important way. —TR
Overall, the book is very nice and very readable. I understand that the book is aimed at as much as possible wide spectrum of readers, however, sometimes it suffers from technical inaccuracy.
Firstly, the author claimed that loudspeaker in radio works with direct current because the rectifier is used in the radio. It is wrong since speaker operates with AC but with relatively low frequency in comparison with radio signal. The reason for using rectifier is to get modulation envelope (what is more, this is true only for AM radios). Then high frequency part of signal is filtered by capacitor and AC low frequency current for loudspeak is gained.
Second issue is concerning Boolean logic. The author says that equation x^2 = x is valid in Boolean logic since it has solution 0 and 1. That is true, however, it is not reason why this equation is important for Boolean algebra. The true reason is that the equation says: "Power of logical variable is always variable itself". Similar law is valid for logical addition, namely x + x = x.
Finally, I would like to note that the autor consider Mr. Deming (founder of quality management noted in conjuction with Japanese chip manufactures) as somebody who firstly used statistics to imporove manufacturing processes. Personally, I think it is not true since first man who used scientific approach of this kind was Taylor in the beginning of 20th century.
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The book deviates, much like so many Hollywood movies, but then why let the truth interfere with a good story.
Not withstanding, it is a reasonably good book