Also, if Intel's "first product" was in 1969 and the Apollo mission were from 1961 to 1975, then that begs for many questions your assertion, like, which Apollo mission do you refer to below? And how many device did those rocket use? Enough to sustain Intel's quick early growth? That's not likely, even at the out-of-control prices that govt. pays. That leaves direct funding then. NASA directly funded Intel's develpment of the products listed above? How much? Were there any other significant investors or would Intel have failed to launch (pun intended) without NASA's (ah.. I mean our father's) money?
There are few of these types of shows that I regret not being able to attend. This one looks like a glaring exception to that rule. I would love to have been there to hear these movers and shakers speak.
Every development has a cycle. Computer gets faster and faster everyday. A regular user probably don't feel a different between a 3 years old laptop and today's laptop. However, more products and information are moved to the Internet. Those require software engineers to develop. In addition, today's web-based application isn't so easy anymore. A software engineer can hardly go by with knowing only 3 languages. Today belongs to software engineer. Yet, for example, when there is a breakthrough of semiconductor such as using different material than silicon, hardware engineer will thrive again.
Just because the economics of Venture investing in semiconductor startups (usually) don't make any more sense, that doesn't mean that IC technology, applications, and product ubiquity aren't advancing (often, still, into uncharted waters).
Especially when you consider the cost vs return potential offered by web/mobile app development, it becomes virtually impossible to justify investing in a semi venture that will take a) $50mil to develop a new product (minimum), b) another $100mil to deploy it, while getting the next product generation developed, and c) doing all this before the opportunity window closes, due to one, or more, of the better-capitalized behemoths in the industry notice what you're doing and (if it seems successful) get a competing product to the next technology node before you can.
There **are** niche opportunities out there. But finding a profitable one with a big-exit potential, that simultaneously can be developed without spending $200mil, is like looking for that needle in a pile of needles.
If, on the other hand, most Venture Capital investors weren't so reluctant to embrace an IP business model, there might be more opportunitiy to develop & deploy vlauable technologies, and let the startup's customers bear the cost and risk of Silicon development.
Actually it is not true that innovation (or VC funding) is not happening in chip industry. The innovation (or funding) is shifting from one domain of chip industry (digital SoC) to another domian of chip industry (power electronics, RF, MEMS etc).
There are substantial little scope of innovation in digital or mixed signal SoC targeted for communication and consumer market. Those markets are saturated by big players. Investment requirement for SoCs targeted for those market is very high making it not attractive to VCs.
But there are new upcoming market like automotive, medical etc where need of SoC is there. The difference is that the technology which dominates those market are different like RF, MEMS, power electronics etc. The investment for those SoCs (and even for fabs) are low. The 21st century will belong to RF and MEMS in semiconductor industry