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TI – The Initial Innovator of Semiconductor ICs

TI – The Initial Innovator of Semiconductor ICs
by Pawan Fangaria on 02-09-2014 at 9:00 am

[TI’s China Foundry acquired from SMIC]

During my engineering graduation, electronic design courses and mini-projects, the ICs I used to come across were SN 7400 series from Texas Instrumentsthat covered a large range of devices from basic gates and flip-flops to counters, registers, memories, ALUs, system controllers, and so on. There is ‘54’ series with military specifications and wider temperature range. Today, we have much wider variety of ICs, ASICs, SoCs and the like with various functions on the chip. Initially, 7400 series ICs used to have bipolar TTL (Transistor-Transistor Logic) technology that slowly transitioned through various refinements; now we see CMOS, BiCMOS, HCMOS and the like. While underlying technologies changed, the part number of a particular type of IC remained almost similar, thus standardizing the IC number to relate to the particular logic inside. While TTL provided higher speed, it also dissipated higher power; the CMOS dissipated lower power at the cost of slower speed. The technology within ICs has come through a long way with many variants (and new entrants over the years offering newer, differentiated ICs) struggling to optimize and trade-off between power and performance. And obviously, minimization of area with newer technologies and lower nodes played an important role in what we have today. In the near future, it would be my pleasure to talk more about TI’s technology and product portfolio with focused attention on particular segments.

At this moment, it’s too inviting for me to briefly ponder over the history of this holistic, innovative, most ethical, one of the oldest, built-to-last, and ever shining semiconductor design and manufacturing company (an IDM). Jack S. Kilby, the great inventive and creative mind at TI and Nobel Laureate, has the honour of inventing the first commercial semiconductor IC in 1958 (1[SUP]st[/SUP] patent filed in May 1959 on miniaturized semiconductor integrated circuits), probably the most versatile invention of the 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century which transformed the world of electronics. Holding more than 60 patents, in Dec 2000, Kilby was presented with the most prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics for his lifelong exemplary work. In 1967, TI invented the first electronic hand held calculator; again a patent in the name of Kilby along with two of his colleagues was filed. With more than 41000 patents in its portfolio, TI is probably among the first movers to start earning revenue out of its patents. More on that and other leading technologists on TI board later.

So, how did TI start? That’s again an interesting and exciting transformation story. Although TI was founded in 1951, its existence came much before the Second World War. Eugene McDermott and John Clarence Karcher started a company in 1930 to provide seismography services to oil exploration companies and that was later incorporated as Geophysical Service Inc. (GSI) in 1938. In 1941, Eugene McDermott along with Cecil Green, Eric Jonsson and H. B. Peacock bought GSI. During the later years of wartime (WW2), U.S. Navy, under the leadership of Lieutenant Patrick Haggerty, entrusted GSI with contract for developing devices to detect submarines from low flying aircrafts above the sea. The company with its expertise in locating oil was very successful in accomplishing this task which involved detecting magnetic disturbances due to submarine’s movement. With such assignments catering to defense systems, GSI transformed itself into an electronics company. As the electronics business grew, in 1951, GSI changed its name to Texas Instruments Inc. which was a name much closer to the electronics business.

Patrick Haggerty was a great visionary. After leading the contract with GSI as a Navy Lieutenant, he joined GSI in 1945 as General Manager with responsibility to diversify electronics business. His keen mind had observed that last 20 years of electronics development was driven by components and their connections through circuitry, and the future belonged to how dense that connection can be through new evolution of materials and technologies. In 1951, when TI was formed, Haggerty was Executive V. P. and he initiated purchase of a license from Western Electric to manufacture transistors with an eye to enter the consumer electronics business which had a great hidden growth potential. TI then manufactured the first transistor radio with low power consumption and size which could fit into a large pocket. In 1958, Haggerty became President of TI and that is when Jack Kilby, a researcher at TI at that time invented the IC. This became a great union of a visionary and an inventor.

It was an opportune time for TI in 1958, when it was the prime supplier of electronics to the U.S. Military and U.S. Air Force needed major renovation in its ballistic missile guidance system. TI received major funding from U.S. Air Force for developing ICs that were used in the ballistic missile guidance system. Later, the first IC based computer for U.S. Air Force was developed in 1961. Stay tuned for more….

Today, TI (headquartered in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.) has its presence in more than 35 countries with more than 100000 customers, largest number of sales and support staff WW and more than 100000 analog ICs, embedded processors, tools and software.

More Articles by Pawan Fangaria…..

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