Technology and Economics in the Semiconductor Industry; January 1996; Scientific American Magazine; by Hutcheson, Hutcheson; 7 Page(s)
The ability to store and process information in new ways has been essential to humankind's progress. From early Sumerian clay tokens through the Gutenberg printing press, the Dewey decimal system and, eventually, the semiconductor, information storage has been the catalyst for increasingly complex legal, political and societal systems. Modern science, too, is inextricably bound to information processing, with which it exists in a form of symbiosis. Scientific advances have enabled the storage, retrieval and processing of ever more information, which has, in turn, helped generate the insights needed for further advances.
Over the past few decades, semiconductor electronics has become the driving force in this crucial endeavor, ushering in a remarkable epoch. Integrated circuits made possible the personal computers that have transformed the world of business, as well as the controls that make engines and machines run more cleanly and efficiently and the medical systems that save lives. In so doing, they spawned industries that are able to generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues and provide jobs for millions of people. All these benefits, and far too many more to list here, accrue in no small measure from the fact that the semiconductor industry has been able to integrate more and more transistors onto chips, at ever lower costs.