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Gordon Moore on the early days of the chip industry

Once upon a time, Silicon Valley was little more than a Quonset hut with no air conditioning, and semiconductor makers had to build their equipment from scratch.

Part of the challenge of making semiconductors in the 1950s was developing your own equipment.

"All of the equipment for the photo lithography had to be developed from scratch. Photo lithography had been used for printed circuit boards, but we wanted to really apply it to production silicon technology, and that required everything new," said Gordon Moore, Intel co-founder and one of the "traitorous eight," in an interview with SEMI, the semiconductor manufacturing equipment trade group.

"We had to develop the mask-making technology as well as the techniques for coating wafers with the photo resist material and so forth. So it was an extensive amount of new technology that we were bringing to bear in our first products," Moore said.

It's part of an ongoing oral history project at SEMI. You can check out the full interview, but here are some highlights:

Gordon Moore in 2007. Stephen Shankland

• At Shockley Semiconductor, engineers developed a machine for making masks, which define circuit patterns on a chip, that used lenses from movie cameras.

• Moore and others experimented early on with the idea of using gallium arsenide, rather than silicon, for making transistors, but realized silicon would provide more bang for the buck. Gallium arsenide remains a relatively niche market today.

• Shockley's first facility was a Quonset hut and was pretty dirty.

• Intel, which got started 40 years ago in the middle of 1968, set a goal of getting its first fab up and running that year. It met the goal on December 31.

Again, more here.