- The FinFET Breakthrough and Networks of Innovation in the Semiconductor Industry, 1980–2005: Applying Digital Tools to the History of Technology
- Technology and Culture
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 59, Number 2, April 2018
- pp. 251-288
- View Citation
- Additional Information
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.