Unknown Intel blinkenlight panel circa 1973

dwight dkelvey at hotmail.com
Wed Jun 17 09:15:10 CDT 2020

It was also clear at the time for Intel that the Japanese 4116s had 10 times better ppm failure rates then the US made parts and they were cheaper. If it wasn't for EPROMs, Intel might have folded then and 8080s were just taking off. I suspect if Motorola had gotten their act together, it might be a different place today.

From: cctalk <cctalk-bounces at classiccmp.org> on behalf of Chuck Guzis via cctalk <cctalk at classiccmp.org>
Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2020 6:22 PM
To: Nigel Johnson via cctalk <cctalk at classiccmp.org>
Subject: Re: Unknown Intel blinkenlight panel circa 1973

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.


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