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Issue No.01 - Jan.-March (2012 vol.34)
pp: 48-59
Hyungsub Choi , Seoul National University, South Korea
Takushi Otani , Kibi International University, Japan
<p>In 1957, Tarui Yasuo filed a patent application for the quadrupole transistor, which could be seen as an important step toward the integrated circuit. Likely, the financial and ideological need to develop indigenous devices in postwar Japan oriented Tarui's vision into a particular direction, which in turn obstructed him from following up on this technological trajectory and realizing the significance of his achievement.</p>
history of computing, integrated circuit, Japan, Tarui Yasuo, Electrotechnical Laboratory, quadrupole transistor
Hyungsub Choi, Takushi Otani, "Failure to Launch: Tarui Yasuo, the Quadrupole Transistor, and the Meanings of the IC in Postwar Japan", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.34, no. 1, pp. 48-59, Jan.-March 2012, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2011.86
1. Y. Tarui, IC no hanashi: Toranjisuta kara Chō-LSI made [The Story of IC: From the Transistor to VLSI], Nihon Hōsō Shuppan Kyōkai, 1982.
2. Tarui, IC no hanashi, pp. 120–122.
3. Japanese patent Shōwa 34-6175. Tarui filed the patent application on 26 Mar. 1957. The patent was granted by the Japan Patent Office in 1959.
4. Researchers in the US had advanced similar ideas before and after Tarui's invention. For more details, see D.C. Brock and D.A. Laws, "The Early History of Microcircuitry: An Overview," vol. 34, no. 1, 2012, IEEE Annals, pp. xx–xx.
5. For a classic treatment, see C. Johnson, Who Governs? The Rise of the Developmental State, W.W. Norton, 1995.
6. E. Mansfield, "Industrial R&D in Japan and the United States," Am. Economic Rev., vol. 78, no. 2, 1988, pp. 223–228; D.E. Westney, "Country Patterns in R&D Organizations: The United States and Japan," MIT Japan Program working paper, MITJP 91-06, 1992. Many scholars have emphasized the role played by Japanese state institutions in scanning and selecting foreign technologies. See, for example, M. Matsumoto, Technology Gatekeepers for War and Peace: The British Ship Revolution and Japanese Industrialization, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006; L.H. Lynn, How Japan Innovates: A Comparison with the U.S. in the Case of Oxygen Steelmaking, Westview Press, 1982.
7. P. Hall and I.L. Densten, "Following Successfully: Followership and Technology Adoption," Prometheus, vol. 20, no. 2, 2002, pp. 87–105, quote pp. 89–90. Business analyst M.E. Porter, also discusses the pros and cons of technology leadership and followership in his classic study Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, The Free Press, 1985, pp. 181–190. For a more general discussion of the followership strategy's advantages, see B. Kellerman, Followership: How Followers are Creating Change and Changing Leaders, Harvard Business School Press, 2008.
8. The reason for this phenomenon is under debate. For notable samples of this literature, see A.D. Chandler, Jr., Inventing the Electronic Century: The Epic Story of the Consumer Electronics and Computer Industries, The Free Press, 2001; C.M. Christensen, Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, Harvard Business School Press, 1997. Our gratitude to D.A. Laws, and D.C. Brock for clarifying this point.
9. J.A. Secord, "Knowledge in Transit," Isis, vol. 95, no. 4, 2004, pp. 654–672, quote p. 661.
10. The description of Tarui's early career at ETL is based on his autobiography: Y. Tarui, Chō LSI e no chō, sen: Nihon handōtai 50 nen to tomoni ayumu [The Challenge for VLSI: Life Through the 50 Years of Japanese Semiconductors], Kōgyō Chōsakai, 2000, pp. 24–47.
11. For example, commercial production of point-contact and alloy-junction transistors at RCA began in 1953. "RCA Victor's Commercial Transistor Output Started," Wall Street J.,14 May 1953.
12. M. Kikuchi, Japanese Electronics: A Worm's Eye View of Its Evolution, Simul Press, 1983, pp. 19–28.
13. M. Kikuchi electrical engineer, oral history by W. Aspray IEEE History Center, Rutgers Univ., 1994.
14. M. Kikuchi,, "Handōtai seiryu riron no genjō" [Current State of Semiconductor Rectification Theory], Denki Shikenjo Ihō, vol. 14, 1950, p. 632.
15. M. Hatoyama, Handōtai o sasaeta hitobito: Chō-LSI e no michi [The People Who Supported Semiconductors: The Road to VLSI], Seibundō Shinkōsha, p. 49.
16. For a short biography of Wada, see H. Choi and C. Kita, "Hiroshi Wada: Pioneering Electronics and Computer Technologies in Postwar Japan," IEEE Annals, vol. 30, no. 3, 2008, pp. 84–89. ETL's transistorized computer work has been documented in S. Takahashi, "Early Transistor Computers in Japan," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 8, no. 2, 1986, pp. 144–154; S. Takahashi, "A Brief History of the Japanese Computer Industry Before 1985," IEEE Annals, vol. 18, no. 1, 1996, pp. 76–79.
17. T. Otani, "Kōdo seichōki Nihon ni okeru kokuritsu shiken kenkyū kikan no yakuwari tenkan: Tsūsanshō Kōgyōgijutsuin Denkishikenjo no jirei kara" [A Shift in the Role of National Laboratories in Japan in the Early 1960s: The Case of the Electrotechnical Laboratory], Nenpō Kagaku, Gijutsu, Shakai [Japan J. for Science, Technology, & Society], vol. 3, 1994, pp. 33–74, quote p. 48.
18. On the Special Measures Law and the role played by Wada, see H. Aoki, "Denshi Kōgyō Shinkō Rinji Sochihō no seiritsu katei: Tsūsanshō ni okeru denshi kōgyō shinkōsaku no hajimari" [The Establishment of the Extraordinary Measures Law for Promotion of the Electronics Industry in Japan: The Beginning of Industrial Policy in Electronics by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry], Ann. Report of the Economic Soc., Tohoku Univ., vol. 59, no. 2, 1997, pp. 195–215.
19. H. Choi, "Technology Importation, Corporate Strategies, and the Rise of the Japanese Semiconductor Industry in the 1950s," Comparative Technology Transfer and Soc., vol. 6, no. 2, 2008, pp. 103–126.
20. S. Denda and M. Kikuchi, "p-n-p Alloy Junction Transistor no seisaku" [Making p-n-p Alloy Junction Transistors], Denki Shikenjo Ihō, vol. 19, no. 9, 1955, pp. 700–708.
21. "Shinpō shita kokusan toranjisuta" [Progress in Domestic Transistors], Denshi News, Jan. 1958, p. 6. The results of the test were reported as M. Kikuchi et al., Denki Shikenjo Kenkyū Hōkoku [ETL Research Report], no. 555, 1958.
22. Tarui, Chō-LSI e no chōsen, p. 51.
23. On the various military-funded projects aimed at developing novel microminiaturization techniques, see D.U. Holbrook, "Government Support of the Semiconductor Industry: Diverse Approaches and Information Flows," Business and Economic History, vol. 24, no. 2, 1995, pp. 133–166. For an earlier instance of the US military's involvement in semiconductor technology, see T.J. Misa, "Military Needs, Commercial Realities, and the Development of the Transistor, 1948–1958," Military Enterprise and Technological Change, M.R. Smith ed., MIT Press, 1987, pp. 253–287.
24. J.E. Tilton, International Diffusion of Technology: The Case of Semiconductors, Brookings Institution, 1971, p. 152.
25. H. Yoshioka, "The Development of Transistor Technology," , A Social History of Science and Technology in Contemporary Japan, vol. 2, Road to Self-Reliance, 1952–1959, S. Nakayama ed., Trans Pacific Press, 2005, p. 644.
26. Choi, "Technology Importation."
27. As early as May 1958, a Japanese newspaper reported that the price of transistor radios was going down rapidly. "Nobiru toranjisuta rajio: Meka ryōsan e, shingata mo tōjō, nedan mo yasuku" [Rising Transistor Radio: Manufacturers Increase Production, Many New Models, Prices Go Down], Asahi Shimbun,4 May 1958.
28. In 1955, the unit labor cost in the US was $36.40 (in 2002 dollars), while that of Japan was $14.50. In 1960, that of the US was $43.70, Japan $12.40. (See
29. "Bei de 'yasuuri' no hinan, Nihonsei no toranjisuta rajio ni" [Blame for "Dumping" Japanese Transistor Radio in the US], Asahi Shimbun,5 Oct. 1958.
30. "Transistors Stir a Trade Dispute: U.S. Industry Urges Inquiry into Japanese Imports as Defense Threat," New York Times,12 Jan. 1960.
31. Tsūsan Sangyōshō Kigyōkyoku ed., Gijutsu teikei no seika [Results of Technology Tie-Ups], Zaidanhōjin Shōkōkaikan, 1960, p. 1.
32. T. Tsukamoto, "Esaki daiodo hakken no urabanashi" [The Insider's Tale of Esaki Diode's Discovery], Denshi Jōhō Tsūshin Gakkaishi, vol. 70, no. 10, 1987, pp. 977–980.
33. , The Esaki diode was well received outside Japan as well, at least until the early 1960s. A host of US companies, including RCA, GE, Philco, and Westinghouse, commenced production of tunnel diodes in 1960. See, for example, "GE Starts Mass Output of Tunnel Diodes, Cuts Their Prices Sharply," Wall Street J., 8 Feb. 1960; "Westinghouse Tunnel Diodes," Wall Street J., 6 June 1960; "RCA Has Tunnel Diode That May Speed Up Computers Greatly," Wall Street J.,10 Aug. 1960.
34. H. Wada, "Handōtai wa dō naru: Gyōkei no tōmensuru mondai" [Whither Semiconductor Technology: Problems Facing the Industry], Denshi Kōgyō, no. 938, 1960, pp. 41–44; M. Kikuchi, "Nihon no handōtai kōgyō" [Japanese Semiconductor Industry], Kagaku Asahi, vol. 19, no. 10, 1959, pp. 106–110.
35. Tarui, Chō-LSI e no chōsen, pp. 48–50.
36. J.A. Morton quoted in T.R. Reid, The Chip: How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution, Random House, 1985, p. 16.
37. For the micro-module and molecular electronics projects, see H. Choi and C.C.M. Mody, "The Long History of Molecular Electronics: Microelectronics Origins of Nanotechnology," Social Studies of Science, vol. 39, no. 1, 2009, pp. 11–50, esp. pp. 15–24. More detailed information can be found in the other articles in this issue of IEEE Annals.
38. The boundary of military patronage was not entirely clear. Although the IC work at TI and Fairchild did not receive military R&D funding, both companies were keenly aware that their products would be marketed to the military (and space) clientele.
39. A. Saxena, "Monolithic Concept and the Inventions of Integrated Circuits by Kilby and Noyce," Tech. Proc. Nano Science and Technology Inst. Ann. Conf., vol. 3, 2007, pp. 460–474; Saxena.pdf.
40. "Molecular Electronics Function Blocks," Semiconductor Products, Feb. 1960, pp. 49–50.
41. Several trade magazines covered Westinghouse's announcement. For example, "Molecular Electronics," Electronic Industries, Mar. 1960, pp. 100–103, pp. 270–271.
42. Tarui, Chō-LSI e no chōsen, p. 60.
43. Tarui's final report of this project was published as Y. Tarui, S. Denda, and R. Inoue, "Gerumaniumu ni yoru kotai kairo" [A Solid Circuit Free Running Multivibrator], Denki Shikenjo Kenkyū Hōkoku [ETL Research Report], no. 601, 10 June 1961.
44. Tarui, Chō-LSI e no chōsen, pp. 61–64.
45. "Atsusa 1 miri, omosa 0.5 guramu, rokkagetsu no tankikan de seiko" [Thickness 1mm, Weight 0.5g, Succeeded Within a Short Six Month Timeframe], Nikkan Kōgyō Shimbun,21 Jan. 1961.
46. Tarui Denda and Inoue, "Gerumaniumu ni yoru kotai kairo," p. 2.
47. Yoshioka, "The Development of Transistor Technology," p. 642.
48. Aviation Week, 29 May 1961, pp. 82–83, quoted in P.E. Ceruzzi, A History of Modern Computing, MIT Press, 1998, p. 181.
49. R.S. Borovoy interview by D.C. Brock, audio recording and transcript, 3 Aug. 2007, Oral History Collection, Chemical Heritage Foundation. Around this time, Hitachi also sent a letter to Fairchild inquiring about IC patents. "As we are also interested in your patents which, I understand, are in the course of being issued in Japan in the near future. I would like to know your program in this respect." H. Takeo (Hitachi) to R. Hodgson (Fairchild), 28 Sept. 1963, 8/2 (Japan), M1491 (Papers of L. Berlin on R. Noyce ), Stanford Univ. Archives.
50. Y. Tarui et al., , "Planar Transistors and Diffused Layer Resistors," Denki Shikenjo Ihō, vol. 29, no. 1, 1965, pp. 94–100.
51. Y. Tarui, "Kotai kairo no genjō to shorai" [Semiconductor Microelectronics: Present and Future], Denki Shikenjo Ihō, vol. 29, no. 1, 1965, pp. 3–8.
52. K. Sakakibara, "From Imitation to Innovation: The Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) Semiconductor Project in Japan," working paper, MIT Alfred P. Sloan School of Management, Oct. 1983, WP 1490-83.
53. Keizai Kikaku Chō, Shōwa 54 nen keizai hakusho: Sugureta tekiōryoku to aratana shuppatsu, [1979 Economic White Paper: Excellent Adaptive Capability and a New Start], pp. 233–234. The call for original technology can be seen most vividly in Keizai Kikaku Chō, Shōwa 56 nen keizai hakusho: Nihon keizai no sozoteki katsuryoku o motomete [1981 Economic White Paper: Searching for Creative Energy of Japanese Economics], pp. 239–240.
54. The NHK documentary was later compiled as a four-volume publication: Y. Aida, Denshi rikkoku Nihon no jijoden [The History of Japan as a Nation Built on Electronics], 4 vols., Nihon Hōsō Shuppan Kyōkai, 1991–1992.
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