Why Are the 1960s and 70s Important Years for Silicon Wafers?


November 21, 2022

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Since the 1960s, when silicon wafers first appeared on the scene, they have advanced exponentially. Even today, it continues to evolve and develop each day as great minds are uncovering discoveries. While there are several advancements today, the 1960s and 70s have groundbreaking discoveries that shaped what we know about silicon wafers and semiconductors.

This was made possible by a variety of elements, including the frequent technological advancements of today. But the tiny silicon wafer has been one of the unheralded heroes of technological advancement. If you want to learn more about silicon wafers and their history, here's why the 1960s and 70s are essential for silicon wafers.


silicon wafer

What Happened in the 1960s and 70s?  

Relevant Events in the 1960s  

  • Introduction of Metal Oxide Semiconductor Transistors.

This year marked the start of the demonstration of metal oxide semiconductor transistors. Making functional transistors and demonstrating the first effective MOS field-effect amplifier are accomplishments of John Atalla and Dawon Kahng, respectively. Without their contribution, semiconductors would not have moved forward. During this time, the first commercial IC was built using Hoerni's planar method and Noyce's monolithic strategy, which was developed under the direction of Jay Last.  

  • Semiconductor Test Enters the Commercial Market.

Independent vendors and semiconductor manufacturers create high-throughput manufacturing-specific test equipment.  

  • Germanium Speed Exceeded by Silicon Transistor.

To meet the performance requirements of the fastest machine in the world, computer architect Seymour Cray funds the creation of the first silicon device.  

  • The First Applications for ICS in Computers Are for Aerospace Systems.  

In military and aerospace systems, integrated circuits are more expensive than discrete transistor designs because of their smaller size, lighter weight, and lower power consumption. By the late 1960s, transistor logic (TTL) had overtaken diode transistor logic (DTL) families as the most common standard logic configuration due to speed, cost, and density advantages.  

  • The Invention of Complementary MOS Circuit Configuration.  

Frank Wanlass creates the lowest power logic configuration, but performance constraints prevent the dominant manufacturing technology of today from being adopted quickly. The introduction of the first commercial MOS IC was groundbreaking during this time. The first calculator chip set was created by General Microelectronics using the Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (MOS) process, which allows for placing more transistors per chip than bipolar ICs.  

  • Introduction of the First Commonly Used Analog Integrated Circuit.    

By developing commercially successful, ICs for analog applications, David Talbert and Robert Widlar at Fairchild launched a significant industry sector. Hybrid microcircuits reach the highest production volumes during this time. Mass production of the multi-chip SLT packaging technology created for the IBM System/360 computer family has begun.

There are semiconductor read-only-memory chips. Read-only memories (ROMs) made of semiconductors have a high bit density and a low bit cost. The package is the first to include considerations for system design. Dual In-line Package (DIP) technology dramatically simplifies printed circuit board layout and lowers the price of computer assembly.  

  • Mainframe Computers Now Use ICS.  

Large computer manufacturers release devices built using specialized and custom-integrated circuits. Moore's law projects integrated circuits in the future, the R&D director at Fairchild forecasts the rate of increase in transistor density on an integrated circuit and creates a metric for measuring technological advancement.  

  • ICS-Specific Computer-Aided Design Tools.  

Engineers at IBM were the first to develop computer-aided electronic design automation tools that cut down on errors and shortened design times. Semiconductor rams serve high-speed storage needs. Bipolar RAMs are now available in the computer industry's high-performance scratchpad and cache memory applications.  

  • Integrated Circuits Use Computer-Aided Designs.  

The amount of time it takes to develop and deliver complex custom integrated circuits is decreased by automated design tools. Suppliers of turnkey equipment alter industry dynamics have significantly improved. As they become suppliers of process technology and turnkey manufacturing facilities, third-party vendors acquire specialized knowledge in semiconductor fabrication.  

  • Creation of Silicon Gate Structure.

With a silicon-gate structure, Federico Faggin and Tom Klein increase the speed, packing density, and reliability of MOS ICs. The Fairchild 3708 is the first silicon-gate integrated circuit (IC) created by Faggin. A valid, current source IC integrates a data conversion function, which helps improve semiconductor efficiency. One of the last product categories to adopt monolithic solutions was the combination of analog and digital functionality on a single chip due to the precise manufacturing requirements.  

  • The Schottky Barrier Diode Doubles the Speed of TTL Memory and Logic.  

The 64-bit TTL RAM architecture, the industry standard, has been designed with design innovation to increase speed and reduce power consumption. They have applied right away to brand-new bipolar logic and memory designs.

silicon wafer rough polish room

Relevant Events in the 1970S  

  • Magnetic Core Memory Competes on Price with MOS Dynamic Ram.

The first significant semiconductor challenge to magnetic cores as the primary type of computer memory is presented by the Intel i1103 Dynamic RAM (DRAM).  

  • A Microprocessor integrates CPU Function onto a Single Chip.  

Computer central processing units (CPU) are crammed onto single chips thanks to silicon-gate process technology and design advances. Reusable programmable ROM was also introduced during this time. The erasable, programmable read-only memory, or EPROM, developed by Dov Froman, is a crucial design tool for the rapid development of microprocessor-based systems.  

  • IC Process Design Rules Scaling and Quantification.  

With his paper on process scaling for MOS memories, IBM researcher Robert Dennard has sped up the race to produce integrated circuits with ever-shrinking physical dimensions. The TMS 1000 micro-control unit, also known as MCU, was inspired by a single-chip calculator design. From this idea, families of general-purpose digital workhorses that power the tools and toys of the developed world were born.

The first system-on-chip integrated circuit was the digital watch in 1974. The first product to integrate an entirely electronic system onto a single silicon chip, known as a System-On-Chip or SOC, is the Micromax liquid crystal display (LCD) digital watch.

  • The Introduction of Pal User-Programmable Logic Devices.  

Monolithic Memories John Birkner and H. T. Chua created programmable array logic (PAL) devices and simple tools for the quick prototyping of customized logic functions.  

  • Introduction of Single-Chip Digital Signal Processor.  

The single-chip DSP-1 Digital Signal Processor from Bell Labs is designed with electronic switching systems in mind.  

silicon wafer final polish room

Do You Need Silicon Wafers?  

At Wafer World, our team can provide silicon wafers to help you develop existing or new technologies. Give us a call today to learn more about our products.

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