Unknown Intel blinkenlight panel circa 1973

Chuck Guzis cclist at sydex.com
Tue Jun 16 20:22:21 CDT 2020

On 6/16/20 5:17 PM, Nigel Johnson via cctalk wrote:
> I remember that shortage of memory chips. People in my office were all
> blaming it the Ayatollah Khomeni!

The running battle between "dumping" and supply.  By 1980, Japan owned
about half the world's DRAM market and US domestic producers were
leaving the business.

It was an interesting time in Silicon Valley; companies lost DRAM
inventory due to pilferage and outright burglary.  One outfit who'd
carefully laid in a big stock of AT&T-manufactured DRAMs found their
parts crib empty of the things.  Some started storing them in vaults and
there was at least one incident of a supply truck hijacking.

One of the other problems was that Japan was scaling up its production;
there wasn't enough domestic demand to justify expansion, so dumping was
an obvious answer.  And the Japanese DRAMs were *good*. I still have
some NEC 416 DRAM here that we tested with a refresh rate of 2
seconds--that's seconds, not milliseconds.

After all, who's going to argue with someone selling Porsche 911s right
of the boat for $1500 each?

But we'd seen what happened to the US TV manufacturing market in the
70s--it simply couldn't compete with offshore production.  Gone were the
Zeniths, the Packard-Bells and the Curtis-Mathes in a few years.

Things really came to a head when Korea entered the business.  At that
time (1985 or so), I think the only US manufacturers of DRAM were Intel
and Micron.  I think the US went a bit overboard on the anti-dumping
duties.  Hyundai set up a big plant for DRAM locally in the 1990s to get
around anti-dumping penalties.   The huge complex (1.2M square feet) has
sat empty since 2008.  It's been passed around by various companies
(e.g. Broadcom) as a white elephant.  The current owner paid $6.3
million for it in an auction.   Heaven knows what will become of it; no
one seems to know.


More information about the cctalk mailing list