Electronic Design

Designers Scrutinize Solid-State Circuits, Devices

Designers took a hard look at many recent and brand new developments in solid-state technology at the 1961 International Solid-State Circuits Conference. Such components as tunnel diodes, epitaxial transistors, and microwave devices, and concepts, such as magnetics, logic systems, microminiaturization, and storage approaches, were scrutinized and evaluated—not always favorably—at the lively Philadelphia conference.

Unusual frankness characterized the evening discussion sessions. Twistor memories were said to be limited in potential. Tunnel diodes were reported a long way from large-scale use in switching applications. Only one engineer spoke up for superconductive devices, but surprisingly many commentators thought ferrites would be highly competitive in future computers.

Circuits have developed faster than devices in low-frequency, low-level signal amplification, said both circuit designers and device manufacturers. The basic circuits, particularly those based on differential input stages, have been around for many years; what is needed are transistors that can make these circuits perform, they said.

Some specific improvements expected from device manufacturers are more precisely matched component pairs and more complete surface passivation, commented panel member J.S. MacDougall, Raytheon Co. Planar transistors may help provide the answer, added D. Hilbiber of Fairchild Semiconductor. After the session, Mr. Hilbiber said that the long-sought field-effect transistor also might be available in the foreseeable future. (Electronic Design, March 1, 1961, p. 8)

By 1961, the ISSCC was clearly the premier conference for important developments. But it's interesting that the focus was still on discrete devices and ICs hadn't yet made it to center stage.

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