General Microelectronics

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General Microelectronics (GMe) was an American semiconductor company in the 1960s.

A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity value falling between that of a conductor, such as metallic copper, and an insulator, such as glass. Its resistance decreases as its temperature increases, which is the behaviour opposite to that of a metal. Its conducting properties may be altered in useful ways by the deliberate, controlled introduction of impurities ("doping") into the crystal structure. Where two differently-doped regions exist in the same crystal, a semiconductor junction is created. The behavior of charge carriers which include electrons, ions and electron holes at these junctions is the basis of diodes, transistors and all modern electronics. Some examples of semiconductors are silicon, germanium, gallium arsenide, and elements near the so-called "metalloid staircase" on the periodic table. After silicon, gallium arsenide is the second most common semiconductor and is used in laser diodes, solar cells, microwave-frequency integrated circuits and others. Silicon is a critical element for fabricating most electronic circuits.

With Frank Wanlass as director of research and engineering, GMe was the first company to design, fabricate, and sell MOS integrated circuits. [1]

Dr. Frank Marion Wanlass was an American electrical engineer. He is best known for inventing CMOS logic with Chih-Tang Sah in 1963. CMOS has since become the standard semiconductor device fabrication process for MOSFETs.

MOSFET Transistor used for amplifying or switching electronic signals.

The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, MOS-FET, or MOS FET), also known as the metal–oxide–silicon transistor (MOS transistor, or MOS), is a type of field-effect transistor that is fabricated by the controlled oxidation of a semiconductor, typically silicon. It has an insulated gate, whose voltage determines the conductivity of the device. This ability to change conductivity with the amount of applied voltage can be used for amplifying or switching electronic signals. It was invented by Egyptian engineer Mohamed M. Atalla and Korean engineer Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs in November 1959. The MOSFET is the basic building block of modern electronics, and the most widely manufactured device in history, with an estimated total of 13 sextillion (1.3 × 1022) MOSFETs manufactured between 1960 and 2018.

The first MOS chips were small-scale integrated chips for NASA satellites. [1]

NASA US government agency responsible for civilian space programs, and aeronautical and aerospace research

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

In 1964, Wanlass demonstrated a single-chip 16-bit shift register he designed, with an incredible (for the time) 120 transistors on a single chip. [2] [1]

GMe was a 1964 startup that was sold in 1966 to Philco-Ford. [3]

Related Research Articles

Computer memory physical device used to store information for immediate use in a digital electronic device

In computing, memory refers to the computer hardware integrated circuits that store information for immediate use in a computer; it is synonymous with the term "primary storage". Computer memory operates at a high speed, for example random-access memory (RAM), as a distinction from storage that provides slow-to-access information but offers higher capacities. If needed, contents of the computer memory can be transferred to secondary storage; a very common way of doing this is through a memory management technique called "virtual memory". An archaic synonym for memory is store.

Integrated circuit electronic circuit manufactured by lithography; set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece (or "chip") of semiconductor material, normally silicon

An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is a set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece of semiconductor material that is normally silicon. The integration of large numbers of tiny MOS transistors into a small chip results in circuits that are orders of magnitude smaller, faster, and less expensive than those constructed of discrete electronic components. The IC's mass production capability, reliability, and building-block approach to circuit design has ensured the rapid adoption of standardized ICs in place of designs using discrete transistors. ICs are now used in virtually all electronic equipment and have revolutionized the world of electronics. Computers, mobile phones, and other digital home appliances are now inextricable parts of the structure of modern societies, made possible by the small size and low cost of ICs.

Microprocessor Computer processor contained on an integrated-circuit chip

A microprocessor is a computer processor that incorporates the functions of a central processing unit on a single integrated circuit (IC), or at most a few integrated circuits. The microprocessor is a multipurpose, clock driven, register based, digital integrated circuit that accepts binary data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory and provides results as output. Microprocessors contain both combinational logic and sequential digital logic. Microprocessors operate on numbers and symbols represented in the binary number system.

MOS Technology 6502 8-bit microprocessor

The MOS Technology 6502 is an 8-bit microprocessor that was designed by a small team led by Chuck Peddle for MOS Technology. When it was introduced in 1975, the 6502 was, by a considerable margin, the least expensive microprocessor on the market. It initially sold for less than one-sixth the cost of competing designs from larger companies, such as Motorola and Intel, and caused rapid decreases in pricing across the entire processor market. Along with the Zilog Z80, it sparked a series of projects that resulted in the home computer revolution of the early 1980s.

Motorola 6800 8-bit microprocessor

The 6800 is an 8-bit microprocessor designed and first manufactured by Motorola in 1974. The MC6800 microprocessor was part of the M6800 Microcomputer System that also included serial and parallel interface ICs, RAM, ROM and other support chips. A significant design feature was that the M6800 family of ICs required only a single five-volt power supply at a time when most other microprocessors required three voltages. The M6800 Microcomputer System was announced in March 1974 and was in full production by the end of that year.

Very Large Scale Integration process of creating an integrated circuit by combining thousands of transistors into a single chip. VLSI began in the 1970s when complex semiconductor and communication technologies were being developed

Very-large-scale integration (VLSI) is the process of creating an integrated circuit (IC) by combining millions of MOS transistors onto a single chip. VLSI began in the 1970s when MOS integrated circuit chips were widely adopted, enabling complex semiconductor and telecommunication technologies to be developed. The microprocessor and memory chips are VLSI devices. Before the introduction of VLSI technology, most ICs had a limited set of functions they could perform. An electronic circuit might consist of a CPU, ROM, RAM and other glue logic. VLSI lets IC designers add all of these into one chip.

CMOS Technology for constructing integrated circuits

Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS), also known as complementary-symmetry metal–oxide–semiconductor (COS-MOS), is a type of MOSFET fabrication process that uses complementary and symmetrical pairs of p-type and n-type MOSFETs for logic functions. CMOS technology is used for constructing integrated circuits (ICs), including microprocessors, microcontrollers, memory chips, and other digital logic circuits. CMOS technology is also used for analog circuits such as image sensors, data converters, RF circuits, and highly integrated transceivers for many types of communication.

Intel 4004 4-bit central processing unit

The Intel 4004 is a 4-bit central processing unit (CPU) released by Intel Corporation in 1971. It was the first commercially available microprocessor, and the first in a long line of Intel CPUs. The chip design, implemented with the MOS silicon gate technology, started in April 1970, and was created by Federico Faggin who led the project from beginning to completion in 1971. Marcian Hoff formulated and led the architectural proposal in 1969, and Masatoshi Shima contributed to the architecture and later to the logic design. The first commercial sale of the fully operational 4004 occurred in March 1971 to Busicom Corp. of Japan for its 141-PF electronic calculator, for which it was originally designed and built as a custom chip.

Fairchild Semiconductor American company

Fairchild Semiconductor International, Inc. was an American semiconductor company based in San Jose, California. Founded in 1957 as a division of Fairchild Camera and Instrument, it became a pioneer in the manufacturing of transistors and of integrated circuits. Schlumberger bought the firm in 1979 and sold it to National Semiconductor in 1987; Fairchild was spun off as an independent company again in 1997. In September 2016, Fairchild was acquired by ON Semiconductor.

4000-series integrated circuits

The 4000 series is a CMOS logic family of integrated circuits (ICs) first introduced in 1968 by RCA. Almost all IC manufacturers active during this initial era fabricated models for this series. It is still in use today.

Federico Faggin Italian physicist and electrical engineer

Federico Faggin is an Italian-American physicist, engineer, inventor and entrepreneur. He is best known for designing the first commercial microprocessor, the Intel 4004. He led the 4004 (MCS-4) project and the design group during the first five years of Intel's microprocessor effort. Faggin also created, while working at Fairchild Semiconductor in 1968, the self-aligned MOS (metal-oxide-semiconductor) silicon-gate technology (SGT), which made possible MOS semiconductor memory chips, CCD image sensors, and the microprocessor. After the 4004, he led development of the Intel 8008 and 8080, using his SGT methodology for random logic chip design, which was essential to the creation of early Intel microprocessors. He was co-founder and CEO of Zilog, the first company solely dedicated to microprocessors, and led the development of the Zilog Z80 and Z8 processors. He was later the co-founder and CEO of Cygnet Technologies, and then Synaptics.

Transistor count the number of transistors in a device

The transistor count is the number of transistors on an integrated circuit (IC). It typically refers to the number of MOSFETs on an IC chip, as all modern ICs use MOSFETs. It is the most common measure of IC complexity. The rate at which MOS transistor counts have increased generally follows Moore's law, which observed that the transistor count doubles approximately every two years.

Four-Phase Systems was a computer company, founded by Lee Boysel and others, which built one of the earliest computers using semiconductor main memory and MOS LSI logic. The company was incorporated in February 1969 and had moderate commercial success. It was acquired by Motorola in 1981.

A computer is a machine that can be instructed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of operations, called programs. These programs enable computers to perform an extremely wide range of tasks. A "complete" computer including the hardware, the operating system, and peripheral equipment required and used for "full" operation can be referred to as a computer system. This term may as well be used for a group of computers that are connected and work together, in particular a computer network or computer cluster.

Four-phase logic is a type of, and design methodology for dynamic logic. It enabled non-specialist engineers to design quite complex ICs, using either PMOS or NMOS processes. It uses a kind of 4-phase clock signal.

A transistor is a semiconductor device with at least three terminals for connection to an electric circuit. The vacuum-tube triode, also called a (thermionic) valve, was the transistor's precursor, introduced in 1907. The principle of a field-effect transistor was proposed by Julius Edgar Lilienfeld in 1925.

Chih-Tang "Tom" Sah is a Chinese-American engineer. He is best known for inventing CMOS logic with Frank Wanlass at Fairchild Semiconductor in 1963. CMOS is now used in nearly all modern very large-scale integration (VLSI) semiconductor devices.

Mohamed M. Atalla mechanical engineer

Mohamed M. Atalla was an Egyptian-American engineer, physical chemist, cryptographer, inventor, and entrepreneur. His pioneering work in semiconductor technology laid the foundations for modern electronics. Most importantly, his invention of the MOSFET in 1959, along with his earlier surface passivation and thermal oxidation processes, revolutionized the electronics industry. He is also known as the founder of the data security company Atalla Corporation, which he founded after he invented the first hardware security module (HSM) in 1972. He received the Stuart Ballantine Medal and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his important contributions to semiconductor technology as well as data security.


  1. 1 2 3 Bob Johnstone (1999). We were burning: Japanese entrepreneurs and the forging of the electronic age. Basic Books. pp. 47–48. ISBN   978-0-465-09118-8.
  2. Lee Boysel (2007-10-12). "Making Your First Million (and other tips for aspiring entrepreneurs)". U. Mich. EECS Presentation / ECE Recordings. Archived from the original on 2012-11-15.
  3. Christophe Lécuyer (2006). Making Silicon Valley: innovation and the growth of high tech, 1930-1970. MIT Press. p. 263. ISBN   978-0-262-12281-8.