A former EE Times editor-in-chief ('82-'88) and publisher reflects on the days when Gordon Moore keynoted industry conferences and the home PC was a strange notion.
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.
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