The "FinFET" design for transistors, developed at the University of California, Berkeley, in the 1990s, represented a major leap forward in the semiconductor industry. Understanding its origins and importance requires deep knowledge of local factors, such as the relationships among the lab's principal investigators, students, staff, and the institution. It also requires understanding this lab within the broader network of relationships that comprise the semiconductor industry—a much more difficult task using traditional historical methods, due to the paucity of sources on industrial research. This article is simultaneously 1) a history of an impactful technology and its social context, 2) an experiment in using data tools and visualizations as a complement to archival and oral history sources, to clarify and explore these "big picture" dimensions, and 3) an introduction to specific data visualization tools that we hope will be useful to historians of technology more generally.


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pp. 251-288
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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