The other thing I remember from that conference was that though there were but a few, modest papers from Japan, there were scores of attendees. What I noted was that they were young, earnest and universally armed with cameras on tripods. Every time a speaker showed a new slide, a whirring of shutters swept the room, like a great flapping of wings.
Five years later the number of research papers from Japan edged out the number of contributions from the US; ten years later they came to dominate the ISSCC proceedings.
The seminal technology development of the 1980s was, of course, the personal computer. Playing out against that backdrop were the memory wars and the microprocessor wars: The rise of Japan and, later, of Korea; the eventual dominance of Intel’s microprocessor architecture, and of course the relentless scaling of semiconductor dimensions that confirmed--over and over--the validity of Moore’s Law.
The great genius of Moore’s Law, of course, is that it is a magnificent exception; in a world of variables, it proved to be the lone constant. Nothing else in technology is a given. But thanks to Moore’s Law we continue to anticipate exponential increases in computational density.
Back then, who knew?
Back then I penned an editorial that asked “Who Needs a Home Computer?” My wife continues to rib me about that to this day. But I’m less defensive now about my obvious lack of foresight, for I heard the great visionary, Gordon Moore himself, recently confess that in those early days he, too, saw only “trivial applications” for the personal computer.
Girish Mhatre was editor-in-chief of EE Times from 1982 to 1988, publisher of EE Times from 1988 to 1994 and OEM Group Publisher and CMP from 1994 to 1998.
I remember those days also, all too well! I was probably one of the earliest subscribers; when did EETimes start? As a regular in the Immortal Works contests, I'm afraid that the current incarnation doesn't have quite the same cachet the original had! It was a lot more challenging to find some detail in an Old master painting to inspire a caption than looking at a cartoon! I still have the original pages from each Immortality I gained, along with a big badge-like pin trumpeting "I'm Immortal" awarded by EET. Regarding the PC, I was 15 years past BSEE and MSEE when i went to work at Siemens Telecommunications in Boca Raton for a couple of years, across the street from the IBM facility that was busy creating their first PC (some of my fellow ex-pats from Motorola were on that team).
I was working at one of the first computer stores in the Chicago area at that time and had to put up daily with the question delivered in a derisive manner, "What could you possibly use a home computer for?" That and the statement delivered as immutable fact that, "Businesses will never buy a personal computer to do their processing."
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.