When Integrated Circuits Couldn’t Be Trusted

In the 1960s, microelectronics were often unreliable

1 min read

Photo: Randi Klett
Photo: Randi Klett

Today, few equipment manufacturers feel compelled to peer inside the little black boxes that litter modern circuit boards. But in the early days of ICs, reliability problems were common, as shown by this September 1967 ad for a Picker X-Ray microelectronics inspection machine. The machine is pictured in operation, checking incoming ICs at Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp., now Northrop Grumman Corp. The company was an appropriate choice because at the time, Grumman was building lunar landers as part of NASA’s Apollo program. The Apollo program was responsible for large improvements in the quality of ICs overall, as NASA and its contractors tracked down manufacturing problems that would otherwise threaten the ability to fly astronauts safely.

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