It's a heady time for India's information technology industry. Up until just recently, its game had been to do the grunt work for multinationals that did most of the innovation and made the really big money elsewhere. But in a span of scarcely eight weeks last fall, IBM, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Intel, Broadcom, and Cisco all announced major investments in chip design in India, amounting to billions of U.S. dollars and implying sharp increases in the number of company employees working in that country [see box, " "]. Largely because of these commitments, within a few years India will have its first semiconductor factory up and running, and the chips being made there will likely have been conceived and engineered in India itself.

These developments testify in part to the enormous growth in demand for the custom chips that corporate leaders expect India's burgeoning information technology and consumer electronics industries to require. Just as much, however, they are a tribute to the skills and talents of the software and design engineers being turned out in immense numbers by India's polytechnics and universities.

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The Ultimate Transistor Timeline

The transistor’s amazing evolution from point contacts to quantum tunnels

1 min read
A chart showing the timeline of when a transistor was invented and when it was commercialized.

Even as the initial sales receipts for the first transistors to hit the market were being tallied up in 1948, the next generation of transistors had already been invented (see “The First Transistor and How it Worked.”) Since then, engineers have reinvented the transistor over and over again, raiding condensed-matter physics for anything that might offer even the possibility of turning a small signal into a larger one.

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