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Publication Title | The Age of the Digital Nomad

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Soon after the introduction of our CMOS 8-bit MPU, Epson (then Shinshu-Seiki) started a project to develop an “all CMOS computer” using two CPU chips from Hitachi. The project was a great success, and the new product, called the HX-20, was introduced to the market in 1982[7]. It was marketed by the company as “the world’s first hand-held computer” and is often named as one of the mile-stone products of the company. It may well be appropriate to call it the ancestor of the nomadic tool.
During the early and mid-1980s, there were a lot of arguments in the semiconductor industry about whether the future mainstream product would be NMOS or CMOS. The discussion was first initiated in digital ICs, as witnessed by the 1981 ISSCC Panel on “CMOS vs. NMOS for VLSI.” Similar shifts from bipolar technology to BiCMOS technology and then to CMOS technology were also seen in analog and communication ICs in mid-1980s and beyond. DRAMs and flash memories followed this direction in a similar time frame due to the necessity to implementing functions such as high -sensitivity sense amplifiers, redundancy, and voltage conversion on the same chip. Meanwhile, during the 1990s and later, a gradual shift of opinion in favor of CMOS was also observed in high-end processors for servers. In the final stage, RF devices also shifted to CMOS, as witnessed by a 2001 ISSCC panel discussion on the “Years of RF-CMOS.”
Figure 5 summarizes the evolution of semiconductor device structures and shows them converging to CMOS. Simply stated, it is obvious that the past several decades could be described as a period of “CMOS convergence.” The original CMOS devices developed by RCA were applied primarily to ultralow-power equipment, such as military applications in which speed was not an issue. The next big markets for CMOS were watches and calculators, both of which also did not require high speed.

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