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Title: I remember when
Author: Ted Malcolm
Created: October 4, 2007


    I remember when:


    Working at Continental Device, a semiconductor spin off from Hughes Semi, in 1961 thru 1965. When VP Jim Hines called a mgt. meeting and announced that we were no longer to gather at a local watering hole for lunch or after work. The reason given was because of what he had learned, about Fairchild, during a recent visit up north to the Wagon Wheel restaurant. At that time Fairchild was the enemy up north and the "wheel" was their local watering hole. We were using the alloy process with 1 1/8 wafers which did not yield many DO7 size die. The planar process began to be used after obtaining a license from Fairchild.

    Being interviewed by plant mgr. Fred Bialeck in 1965 and being shown what he referred to as the most important piece of paper in his office. On it were the names of his key people and the areas of the factory where they had experience. No wonder they called it " the academy".

    My first day in the San Rafael plant and attending a meeting, that very day, regarding the union push to represent the workers. We were instructed in what to do and not to do. During the next few years they tried twice again without success.

    Product Engineer Ralph Perileoni coming from GE and bringing the DO35 process with him.

    Hearing the sound of the cleats on plant mgr. Chuck Smiths shoes as he walked thru the building.

    The DO35 final sealing process going from single head sealers, to 10 head sealers, to Dix sealers, to belt furnace sealers and back to Dix again. Going from the 10 head sealers to the Dix process provided a significant increase in productivity. Furnace seal, although very productive, required too much nitrogen.

    Packaging engineer Larry Punte's table of diode physical dimensions the DO7, GMD, GND, GPD and finally what he called the GIBD ( glass ity bity diode ). In the dimensions column he had entered "it was too small to see, you had to feel for it".

    He informed our DO7 whisker lead mfgr. that we were building a DO7 whisker lead welder and the price came down. We did build the welder years later and I think it is still running today.

    The very first Semicon show at the San Mateo fairgrounds. It only occupied a part of one of the many buildings. Dick "Shifty" McSheffry was the greeter at the door.

    Plant manager Dave Marriots concern regarding a possible foreign material, graphite particles, problem when the product engineers came to him wanting to convert to the Dix sealing process. The Dix process employed graphite plates that could sluff off graphite particles, some of which could end up inside some of the diodes. The Dix process was put into production starting with 4 inch boats and eventually to 8 inches. His concern proved justified and the graphite particles did create intermittent shorts that plagued us for years after. Years later a Cebu process engineer made a simple change to the Dix process to trap the loose particle in the molten glass and up went the yield.

    Plant mgr. George Wells introducing Bill Kirkham as the new plant manager at an exempt meeting. He said that "Bill even looked like a diode".

    The "high reliability" programs with all the associated burn in ovens.

    Engineering manager, Bram Kools office and all the purchase orders stacked on the floor behind his desk. A personal visit was required to get your PO moved from the floor to the desk. If you did not need it bad enough to speak to him you probably did not need it.

    The many times the support shops were moved to make way for the new wafer fab areas. Building new wafer fabs was like a giant checker game. Move this one to fit that one in, etc. etc........

    The day that diode product mgr. Karl Stahl announced the production acceptance of the first IN4148 automated test and finish line in Cebu. It was part of a group of three and became the model for future test and finish capacity growth.

    Attending my first Diode operations meeting in Cebu and sensing the enthusiasm with which they approached tasks. A fellow visitor from Mountain View and I left the room amazed and in awe. Neither of us had ever experienced anything like it before. The room was electric.

    Cebu plant mgr. Y I Lees different colored hats to monitor workers movements on the production floor. The production operators, product handlers and QA workers all wore different colored hats. In a large open production area a supervisor could easily observe workers who should be at their work stations and not up moving around. Workers who did not meet the required production quotas were given a yellow hat to wear.

    Returning to San Rafael after spending 15 months working in Cebu. It was December 20 1987 and the factory was like a ghost town. The sale to National had been completed, all of the production equipment was gone and all but about a dozen workers had been transferred or laid off. The production floor and office spaces were piled with old desks. It was like viewing the body of a dead friend of 23 years.

    I have to add that it was a great experience working in a very dynamic industry with so many great people. My nightly "things to do tomorrow lists" often were tossed due to a more pressing emergency. Drop this, do that. I did get a lot of satisfaction out of providing the production floor with the tools and equipment to produce the product.

Entered By: Ted Malcolm
  October 4, 2007