I was with MOT for a decade, a great decade it was. Rick, C.D. and Hector were part of the Motorola Semiconductor leadership, a division that eventually became Freescale. There were many other divisions including the mobile phone division that was birthed after Martin Cooper's team in the central R&D labs at Schaumburg brought forth one of the most pivotal devices (the other being the PC, I'd say). That division swallowed a couple of others and in the company split, became Motorola Mobility that passed to Google and now Lenovo. The other half, Motorola Solutions, was in the news this week, selling off its enteprise unit to Zebra. All in all, Motorola peaked at 150,000 and the surviving remainder is apparently 16,000 according to Crain's Chicago Business.
I was fortunate to lead the business unit that was tasked to start work in Personal Systems. We ended up doing a three-fold approach: (1) We developed a PowerPC processor for high end communications systems; (2) we worked with C.D. Tam's folks in Hong Kong to develop the DragonBall processor; (3) and we started work on a code-efficient processor, MCore, that was meant to be the world's best MCU. The PowerPC processor had a bond-out option that turned it into a network processor and started the PowerQUICC processor family. DragonBall became designed into not only the Palm Pilot but also the Motorola two-way pager and such fun products as fish finders. MCore eventually lost out to ARM due, IMHO, to a focus on internal customers and wireless handsets but it was a great architecture for its intended application. I agree that C.D. Tam and others like Gary Tooker, Murray Goldman and Barry Waite were great leaders in the heyday of Motorola Semiconductor.
@Zeeglen I've always thought your EET Picture was of a MECL chip, but it's usually too small to see properly. I just copied it and pasted it into paint and it comes up as the 10116. You're obviously an ECL afficionado....
Family management made Motorola great in the late '80s but after Bob Galvin handed it over to son Chris in 1992 it was the same family style management that destroyed Motorola from within. The inside joke was that Bob Noyce ( the founder of Intel, who while on assignment as the CEO of SemaTech, died in Austin ) had fallen on his sword to sabotage Motorola ( at that time just the Semiconductor Product Sector of Motorola was 3x Intel ) so Bob Galvin would have to replace him at SemaTech leaving Motorola to the tender mercies of son Chris ! From then on it was downhill all the way. Those who saw it coming jumped ship well ahead of time even though Moto still had probably the most hospitable work environment for technical people.
Dr. Dan Noble was wise enough to start up the semiconductor operations in Arizona, a long way from corporate headquarters. That allowed creative automation efforts to move Motorola ahead in manufacturing while their famous competition was suffering higher costs and lower yields. But one of the most important investments that Bob Galvin ever made was in the training and empowerment of the 10's of thousands of people that worked for him.
And while names of various entities have changed, and even ownership, those people spread around the semiconductor industry and continued that lifetime learning habit that he bestowed on them. It was not only Six Sigma but the much earlier automated assembly and test systems that created the cash flow in the discrete group to fund the much more expensive fab automation efforts. Not only Mexico and Korea, but before anyone else, Motorola built a pager plant in mainland China at a time when Congress demanded that only low tech IC's could be made there. That satellite pager revolution in China was the first time that all of China could get business and military messages in real-time. Before that they built the Korean plant 50 miles from the demilitarized zone.
And during all those years, a well staffed applications engineering group and technical marketers worked to aim the design efforts towards real customer needs. Those ideas have spread widely, but few companies had the breadth of products to enable the military, aerospace and industrial markets to generate the critical mass to spawn the current commercial markets. As far as great leaders, I remember many over the 30 years I worked there like Jim Norling, a master strategist, and Pasquale Pistorio who went on to create the Italian-French company known now as STM, but who also pioneered better marketing and distributor systems while at Motorola. It was cash flow from Zener Diodes, and new RF technology from the RF Power group and the cellular infrastructure designers they supported that kicked off the portable radio and then cellular systems world.
The story is long with many heroes and the usual big mistakes that every company that leads will make along the way. So this could be a very long remembrance. But basically, it was knowning WHAT to make, HOW to make it, and WHEN to improve or replace it. That knowledge and culture live on.
I started my career at Motorola Military Division on Chicago's west side on Sept. 11, 1967, after getting my MSEE from Northwestern U. I left at the end of 1979, although I was "Galvinized" (when you reached 10 years of service, you had full tenure and couldn't be fired or RIFed without approval of the Chairman). In that time, I worked in Comm Division Product research labs as an analog/digital/RF circuit designer, including a short gig for Marty Cooper around 1970 on the prototype cellphone system. Then I transferred to the emerging Paging Products group, which included a transfer to Ft. Lauderdale, where I gradually transitioned into system-level design and project leadership.
I knew Bob Galvin, "Dr. Dan," and John Mitchell, the President at that time, and a few more of the executive leadership in the '60s and early '70s. Bob Galvin's genius (and his father Paul's before him) lay in running the business side, and he wisely left virtually all of the day-to-day management to engineers who had come up through the ranks. This is the lesson that Chris Galvin didn't inherit or learn! As his role in the management of the corporation grew, some really bad decisions were made. One that stands out in my mind was bringing in a President and full management team from Bell Labs for the Comm Division. At that time I was part of the college recruiting team for engineers. Claude (let his last name be blotted out) instituted a clone of the then Bell labs philosophy: If you didn't have at least a B+ GPA (long before grade inflation started), you couldn't even sign up for an interview! I'm sure we lost out on hiring some of the real "best and brightest" who went on to change the technology business (dropouts like Bill Gates, Jobs and Wozniak, et al.) Wa all had to get EOE training, as the big M was under a consent order rev=garding employment discrimination. That was my early introduction to what later became "political correctness." Example: we had to cartegorize each candidate as to potential "minority" status, including gender, but were FORBIDDEN form asking the candidate any question regarding race, gender, etc.! We were expected to guess.....
The fate of Motorola really is very sad for me and many of my former co-workers, some of whom I am still in touch with. I believe that while it did start with the ascent of Chris Galvin, the biggest mistakes were the early decisions to divest the various parts of the Semiconductor Group. By the way, the "in" joke in the company in my day was that the raeson Dan Noble decided on Phoenix was because that was where the sand was! However, it was the close cooperation of the Semiconductor Group with all the other members of the Motorola family that created the synergystic effect of designing products to overcome real-world problems and product limitations at the system level. THAT was the real source of Motorola's greatness.
I took a year and a half off of designing avionics radios for a firm in Northern AZ to go to work for Motorola WISD, Wireless Infrastructure System Division at 52nd and McDowell in Phoenix Circa 1997.
I started off designing the 2nd gen LDMOS power transistors using the excellent LDMOS COM-1 die all the time working alongside of the great One at Motorola RF power none other than Alan Wood until Alan was Killed by a drunk driver while out bike riding on south Mountain in Phoenix during the summer of 1998.
As far as I'm concerned those were the last great days of Motorola RF power and soon after it seems the spark was gone from the RF division and I went back to my old Co. designing public safety avionic radios for another 13 years.
But I question why are yourefering to Mot in the past tense?
I still use and purchase Motorola APX and XTS public safety radios which are still made to this day but I'll admit that I have been away from radio and TV for the past 11 days on vacation so if I missed something during the past 11 days about Motorolas demise during that time then I appologize.
And I also still use a Motorola flip phone, albeit a newer model with an early color screen but with that motorola solid feel and excellent RF performance that no Samsung or apple product can match.
I almost forgot about another great Motorola product of mine, the excellent Motorola XTS4000, flip phone FM/P25, 2 way radio, which in my opinion is still the neatest Motorola 2 way radio out there aside from the much older HT100 two way radio.
You have to be either an old timer or a collector of Motorola products to know what a HT100 is.
Joined Mot back in 1988 and had a number of different roles over 10+ years. One of which was in the Military Products Organization where we re-packaged 6800's and 68000's in ceramic, re-tested them at temp., and sold them to the government. We were proud of our technology in the Patriot "scud-buster" missiles. Back then we could take the best 68000's, pop off the back of our Mac PC, and swap out the CPU for extra speed. Definately good times!
I remember in the early days of 8-bit microprocessors when I was considering one to use to control a floppy disk drive (the early 5-inch style). I chose the Mot 6800 over the Intel 8080 because the programming made more sense to me. The Intel programming seemed backward compared with the Mot method. I attended a school at their Ariz facility, and used the 6800 to do the floppy control, replacing a huge circuit board filled with discrete logic components. Too bad the Mot Marketing couldn't compete with the Intel guys--in spite of having the product that made the most sense--engineering wise.
--Gene Price, Cal Poly Pomona BSEE 1961 & Long Beach St MSEE 1968
@DouglnRB: Yes, I was a student in the late 80s, and was only exposed to the Intel after growing up with 6502, 6800, 6809 and 68K. At the time I could not understand how anyone would willingly choose the Intel over the Motorola. The Motorola had an orthogonal instruction set (each instruction having the same addressing mode options and appicable to all internal registers), while with the Intel there were instructions only appilcable to some registers, and not all addressing modes were available for each instruction. One had to carry these exceptions around in their head with no real rhyme nor reason, and carefully plan which register carried which piece of data in order to be able to execute certain instructions at a later stage of an algorithm.
I recall saying that the only reason that a sales person could have convinced an engineering team to go with Intel over Motorolla is that "SHE must have been THAT good...", if you know what I mean...! ;-)
What's all this past-tense talk about Motorola Flip Phones? I still use one. This is mostly because I refuse to spend a dime on a brain-stealing, NSA-magnet, so-called "smart phone". But you've got to hand it to Motorola - they had the best RF engineers money could buy, and it shows. It might take me nine minutes to craft a text message but where ever I am, I've got better signal than most any of the fancy-phoned-folk around me.
Folks, you are blowing me away with your good stories of building the chips, using the chips (including writing code in hex for them) and using the devcies they were built into--and I completely forgot the Razr that was my second cellphone after the Nokia candbar and a great upgrade at the time.
I worked with some of those great folks who are now with Huawei near Chicago, only a 4 year stint but I put in about 8 years worth of hours and learned more about IC design than I have anywhere else. I agree with others that the family management at Mot ending up destroying the company...anybody else remember the "Individual Dignity Entitlement"?
IDE was the subject of a Dilbert comic. I remember lots of Dilbert strips that made co-workers say "he must be talking about us." But I suspect that employees at many companies have had that same reaction to one or more of those comics.
While reading this article and reminiscing about Motorola, I started thinking of who was left in US shores and thought there was but a handful remaining. I was so wrong, as I started jotting down the big(-ish) ones (fab or fabless) that still remain here in the US.
This is the tally I ended up listing and it ended being bigger than TWO baker's dozens:
Advanced Micro Devices Altera Analog Devices Atmel BroadCom Cirrus Logic Conexant/Jazz Cypress Semiconductor Cyrix Fairchild Semiconductor Freescale Semiconductor International Rectifier Linear Technology Marvell Inc. Maxim Integrated Products MicroSemi MicroChip Technologies Micron National Semiconductor NVidia ON Semiconductor RF Micro Devices Semtech Silicon Storage Technology Silicon Laboratories Vitesse Semiconductor Xilinx
Wow! There may even be more that I did not recall.