Tag Archives: tech-history

The Singularity Will Be Built Out of the Same Old Stuff

I work in a field, semiconductors, that is the paradigmatic example of the Singularity.  When people talk about technology zooming up the exponential growth curve, they’re talking about what I do.  Since the field began in the early 1960s, there … Continue reading

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Lead in Flint and RoHS

The scandal about lead in the Flint Michigan water supply reminded me of my own brush with lead issues.  In the 2000s a program started up in electronics called the Reduction of Hazardous Substances, RoHS.   It was intended to get … Continue reading

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A Plug for Doomed Engineers

In the early 90s I began collecting stories of engineers who came to bad ends.  That’s literally bad ends, as in executions and suicide, not just failed projects.    My own career was at a difficult phase at that time, … Continue reading

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“The Wind Rises”, As Did Japan

So why would Hayao Miyazaki, one of Japan’s greatest directors, chose to make his final movie about an obscure aircraft designer?  He has said that “The Wind Rises” will be his last, and he’s already 73.   None of his other … Continue reading

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Criminal Inventors

So the “Breaking Bad” TV series has ended, and with it the career of the chemist and criminal mastermind Walter White.   It was nice in a macabre way to see a technical person portrayed as dangerous and alluring, rather than … Continue reading

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The Lost Engineering Paradise of DEC

I was saddened to hear the recent news that Intel is closing its Hudson MA semiconductor fab.  It’s 35 years old, and couldn’t be upgraded to the latest process nodes.  It’s still using 200 mm diameter wafers and a 130 … Continue reading

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Lynn Conway, EE and Sexual Pioneer

The latest issue of IEEE Solid State Circuits magazine has a good piece by Lynn Conway about how she changed VLSI design.   In a quite direct way she changed my career too.   In 1979 I was just starting grad school, … Continue reading

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Tech Tourism Around Boston

Boston has been industrialized for 200 years, so there’s plenty to see around the city for the technically-minded traveler, or for the local looking for a family outing.   Since it’s hard to decide which are my favorites, I’ll just put … Continue reading

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Has Growth Stalled in Spite of Third Industrial Revolution Tech?

Paul Krugman and Business Week have recently referred to a grim new paper  – “Is US Economic Growth Over?” by Robert Gordon.  He’s an economics professor at Northwestern University, and notes that real growth peaked in the 1960s, and has … Continue reading

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Building Good Stuff for the Wrong Reason

Two years ago I was asked to look at the assets of a failed startup.    All its equipment and intellectual property were about to be sold for a pittance, so I was supposed to see what could be saved.  The … Continue reading

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