Crashing the Mars Rovers!!! Actel and Aerospace Corp

Crashing the Mars Rovers!!! Actel and Aerospace Corp
by John East on 09-30-2019 at 6:00 am

Image RemovedIn early 2003 Actel announced a new product family:  RTSX-A.  It was a family of antifuse FPGAs aimed at the satellite market.  Customers had known for a long time that it was coming and there had been prototypes available for many months.  Our space customers loved the product.  This was going to be a big win for us!  … Read More


Actel Goes Public – The IPO

Actel Goes Public – The IPO
by John East on 09-23-2019 at 6:00 am

Image RemovedIn 1990 Xilinx notified us that they believed Actel was infringing a patent that had just been issued to them.  My immediate thoughts – the patent system is all screwed up!  Actel had been developing our product for five years. We had been shipping it for a year and a half.  During all that time, we were totally unaware … Read More


More Actel Foundry Woes: Andy Grove and Intel

More Actel Foundry Woes: Andy Grove and Intel
by John East on 09-16-2019 at 6:00 am

Image RemovedThe foundry problem continued to plague us at Actel.  We had a really complex process! But  —- we needed state of the art feature sizes if we were to compete with Xilinx.  TI and Matsushita had been doing a good job for us, but not in fabs with state of the art technology.  We were two process generations behind!… Read More


From AMD to Actel (to Microchip)

From AMD to Actel (to Microchip)
by John East on 09-02-2019 at 6:00 am

By the late 80s it had become clear to me that the Japanese were right.  Memories,  Microprocessors,  and Gate Arrays (As well as ASICs) were what customers wanted then.  “Building blocks of ever-increasing complexity” was obsolete.  What next?  Should I try to become an overnight networking expert?  Maybe a DSP expert?  Pretty… Read More


More Steve Jobs, Apple, and NeXT Computer

More Steve Jobs, Apple, and NeXT Computer
by John East on 08-19-2019 at 6:00 am

Image RemovedMy first meeting with Steve Jobs was in early 1987 when he was running NeXT Computer.  I was a VP at AMD and was hunting for potential customers.  I visited him in the NeXT Palo Alto facility with the objective of selling him some existing AMD products.  He had a different objective:  to get me to produce a new product that… Read More


Steve Jobs, NeXT Computer, and Apple

Steve Jobs, NeXT Computer, and Apple
by John East on 08-12-2019 at 6:00 am

Image RemovedFrom time to time I give presentations to various audiences:  Silicon Valley the Way I Saw It.  I always enjoy doing that.  One particular section always makes me stop and think.  “Who was this guy? How did he do what he did? Why didn’t I do that?  “What made him so special?” It’s the Steve Jobs section. I met twice with SteveRead More


Fairchild’s Death March

Fairchild’s Death March
by John East on 07-22-2019 at 6:00 am

Image RemovedThe “20 Questions with John East” series continues

How did it end for Fairchild?  Badly!!!

In 1966 Fairch was the number one supplier of integrated circuits.  That was as it should have been.  After all,  Fairch had invented the IC.  But in 1967 TI passed them.  Still, Fairch remained a strong #2.  By the time that the… Read More


The Wilf Corrigan Fairchild P&L Review

The Wilf Corrigan Fairchild P&L Review
by John East on 07-15-2019 at 6:00 am

Image RemovedThe “20 Questions with John East” series continues

In 1973 plus or minus a year or so I was working as a supervising engineer in one of the bipolar digital product groups.  My boss was a man named Jerry Secrest.  He was a great boss – he taught me most of what I knew about ICs in my youth. Jerry had responsibility for a product… Read More


Texas Instruments and the TTL Wars

Texas Instruments and the TTL Wars
by John East on 07-08-2019 at 8:00 am

The “20 Questions with John East” series continues

Most people in the IC business understand very well that TTL products dominated our industry for 30 years or so.  They’ll also probably know that TI was the king of TTL. But,  if you ask those people what TTL is,   most won’t have any idea.  If you’re one of those people, rest easy.  … Read More


Layoffs à la Fairchild

Layoffs à la Fairchild
by John East on 07-01-2019 at 5:00 am

Image RemovedThe “20 Questions with John East” series continues

You wouldn’t think that layoffs would be a subject that I’d want to talk about in my stories of  “Silicon Valley the Way I saw it.”  The subject is just plain distasteful!!  — Still  — layoffs were a major part of the valley’s culture back in the day.  To … Read More