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Hardcover | $45.00 X | £37.95 | 304 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 13 b&w illus. | December 2016 | ISBN: 9780262035491
eBook | $32.00 X | December 2016 | ISBN: 9780262341394
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The Long Arm of Moore's Law

Microelectronics and American Science

Overview

Since the mid 1960s, American science has undergone significant changes in the way it is organized, funded, and practiced. These changes include the decline of basic research by corporations; a new orientation toward the short-term and the commercial, with pressure on universities and government labs to participate in the market; and the promotion of interdisciplinarity. In this book, Cyrus Mody argues that the changes in American science that began in the 1960s co-evolved with and were shaped by the needs of the “civilianized” US semiconductor industry.

In 1965, Gordon Moore declared that the most profitable number of circuit components that can be crammed on a single silicon chip doubles every year. Mody views “Moore’s Law” less as prediction than as self-fulfilling prophecy, pointing to the enormous investments of capital, people, and institutions the semiconductor industry required—the “long arm” of Moore’s Law that helped shape all of science.

Mody offers a series of case studies in microelectronics that illustrate the reach of Moore’s Law. He describes the pressures on Stanford University’s electrical engineers during the Vietnam era, IBM’s exploration of alternatives to semiconductor technology, the emergence of consortia to integrate research across disciplines and universities, and the interwoven development of the the molecular electronics community and associated academic institutions as the vision of a molecular computer informed the restructuring of research programs.

About the Author

Cyrus C. M. Mody is Professor and Chair of the History of Science, Technology, and Innovation Department at Maastricht University. He is the author of Instrumental Community: Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology (MIT Press).

Reviews

“Mody’s book offers a wide range of important issues providing food for thought on the R&D behind our modern systems. Amid the different models of innovation, and approaches to technology management, civilianisation was as pertinent to the advent of semiconductors as it is today.”—New Scientist

Endorsements

“Mody takes us inside Moore’s Law to show us how progress in computing has been produced across decades through a complex intertwining of technological, government, academic, and corporate institutions. Evoking vivid stories of people and organizations, he uses the production and reproduction of Moore’s Law as a lens into new understandings of the civilianization of computing and the reorganization of science in the US.”
Sarah Kaplan, Professor of Strategic Management, Rotman School, University of Toronto; coauthor of Creative Destruction
“This book undertakes an ambitious project—to frame the history of American scientific and engineering research in the later twentieth and early twenty-first centuries through the unlikely lens of microelectronics. The Long Arm of Moore's Law frames our understanding of the trajectories of American (and global) science across the Cold War and post-Cold War divide with a sweeping perspective. A joy to read.”
Hyungsub Choi, Assistant Professor, School of Liberal Arts, Seoul National University of Science and Technology