Commemorating Dan Maydan’s Life Transition from Applied Materials

12 September 2005

Dan Maydan Lifelines and Life Events

We are here tonight to celebrate Dan Maydan’s transition from Applied Materials, to look back on his contributions, to look forward to his next adventure, and to commemorate our friendships.

I have now known Dan for 36 years, over half of our lives. A series of random life events brought us together in Gene Gordan’s Area 20 Exploratory Development Laboratory at Bell. Gene had invented the Argon Ion Laser. and then created a very fertile Exploratory Development Lab. Gene had met Dan at a technical conference in Israel and invited Dan to visit. Dan did and then stayed for twelve years. Dan originally worked on high power cavity dumped lasers.

I joined Bell Labs in 1969 after completing my PhD in Physics at U of I and spent 4 years with Richard Dixon’s group in Gene’s Lab. Dick had worked with Nobel Prize winner Prof Nicholas Bloombergen at Harvard and invented the acouto-optic modulator. I think I am the only person from Bell Labs who had only one supervisor during their tenure. Some of my cohort would get new managers every couple of weeks in a continually re-organizing environment. I learned many things at Bell Labs, but one of the major lessons was to expect change. Massive projects would reach fruition and then be shipped out from Murray Hill to a low-cost region, which at that time was typically Allentown or Reading PA or Columbus Ohio.

When I was in graduate school in Physics at the University of Illinois, I had proposed a mechanism to create an X-Ray Laser. All the resident expert professors told me it was impossible and discouraged the idea, so I didn’t pursue that path at the time. But at the end of my interview at Bell Labs they asked me what I wanted to do and I suggested I work on the X-ray Laser. I did for the first 9 months until we realized at that time what it would take to implement the ideas. Today there are X-ray lasers. I was right and the Professors have apologized to me several times. Like Dan on his arrival at Bell Labs, I was given great latitude on what I wanted to pursue.

The only point of the story is that Bell Labs in those days had the capability to allow such latitude of exploration. Also in our lab was Dwang Kahn who invented the MOS transistor and George Smith who invented the CCD. Our group was one of the first to develop GaP LED’s and GaAs lasers and deploy them into ATT systems.

One of the people in our group was Gil Amelio. We were having a group meeting and George Smith came in and described his invention of the CCD and said he needed someone to measure the transfer efficiency. Gil was the only one to raise their hand which service eventually led him to Fairchild Semiconductor and then he would become president of National Semiconductor and Apple Computer. Before then Gil was working on low energy excitation of phosphors, an outgrowth of his PhD work.

At some point in 1970, Dan and I were visited by a mathematician from the research department whose son had a tumor. He had invented the mathematics of tomography and wanted to discuss how to implement the X-ray system. This mathematical work provided the foundation of CAT Scans.

One of Dan’s exciting projects was to use the new solid state GaAs laser our group had developed to write images. I helped him pick the right material. This technology was the pre-cursor of the optical disk. Dan developed a high-resolution fiber optic lens writing system that could write a New York Times page on a square centimeter. The projected image on a screen of 2×3 feet was as readable as the original.

Dan worked on a wide variety of topics at Bell Labs and he was always inventive and innovative.

I decided to leave Bell Labs in 1973 to join the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and Stanford University to participate in developing the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory. I participated in developing the Soft-X-ray component which is now known as EUV. Before I left, I was asked if I wanted to stay and join Dan in a new project on X-ray Lithography, but I was ready to go. Perhaps if I had stayed, I would have joined Dan subsequently when he came to Applied Materials in 1980 instead of waiting 11 years. But the story has even more twists of fate.

Xerox in 1973 was a rapidly growing $2B company. Xerox PARC in the ‘70’s was an incredibly inventive place and created the foundation to the networked client-server computer architectures we all use today. In 1973, Bob Metcalf and Dave Bogg’s proposed the first version of the “Ethernet” which only had a software back-off mechanism to prevent packet corruption due to collisions. I wrote a rather scathing private critique which Bob’s manager Robert Taylor proceeded to post on his door and then sent them over to work it out with me. (Since someone posted the picture of the memo on the internet, it has taken on a life of its own.) From the discussion I introduced them to hardware collision detection which was part of my photon counting spectroscopy system. They then incorporated the idea as Ethernet II and is known today as CD/MA. Bob went on to found 3COM and made a small fortune after Xerox released the technology to him to create a public standard.

By the mid ‘70’s, PARC was trying to commercialize its computer and software inventions and George Pake, the founder of PARC with Jack Goldman, attempted to create an Advanced Development Lab in Palo Alto. I proposed to George Pake in 1978 that Dan would be the right person to lead the new lab. Dan received an offer letter from VP Jack Goldman, but soon after Goldman was ousted from the company by President David Kearns in a political shake-up and Dan’s position evaporated. Two years later, Dan joined Applied Materials.

If this series of events had evolved differently, it is unlikely Dan would have come to Applied Materials. Tonight’s event might never have happened. Such a random series of events has brought us to this transition tonight.

For Xerox, the consequences were just as tragic as they might have been for Applied Materials. The President of Xerox decided to put the Advanced Development Lab in Dallas because the labor rates and other costs would be cheaper. Because of failed management structures, the Dallas initiative led Xerox into a number of strategic failures. The Dallas Lab was closed and written off in1985 at a loss of $1B.

One of the ADL’s project was going to develop a single chip microprocessor implementation of the Alto Computer which even in 1975 was the equivalent of today’s Windows or MAC systems including networked laser printers. Xerox offered Intel in 1978 $13M and all of the Xerox software to develop the chip. I suspect Intel turned Xerox down because they were already working with IBM on the X86 family for the IBM PC, but I have never been able to confirm the history. Intel’s refusal led Xerox to try to align with National Semiconductor for IC’s and Xerox then created an Integrated Circuit Laboratory headed by Bill Spencer who on his retirement became head of Sematech. But the combination couldn’t produce the chip in a timely fashion. Eventually the chip was built by Forrest Basket who later founded the Digital Equipment Co Western Research Lab. That Chip became the foundation of the Xerox Docutech which was the first fully digital reprographic network copier-printer. DocuTech developed at PARC has earned tens of billions for Xerox.

The ICL attracted Sam Broydo who then came to Applied Materials. The ICL eventually created the Mead-Conway design methodology which had a big impact on approaches to design. One of the first chip projects was John Clarke’s Geometry Engine which eventually became the foundation of Silicon Graphics. Another first chip was the optical mouse recognition system.

The ADL was finally built in Palo Alto in 1988, but by then it was too late. Xerox’s window of opportunity in computers had already closed.

The MAC and Windows came from PARC as did the SUN software environment. I used to have lunch with Charles Simonyi who developed Word (then called Bravo/X) at PARC as a graduate student. He is now a Microsoft Billionaire.

Spun out of Xerox PARC were 3COM, Adobe, Network Associates, Komag, Spectra Diode Lab, ParcPlace, Silicon Graphics, and others that are less known. Spectra Diodes Lab was a joint venture between Xerox and Herb Dwight’s Spectra Physics in 1983. 20 years later, SDL was bought by JDS Uniphase for $41B. Don Scifres with whom I worked also made a small fortune, but again several unlikely twists of fate led to Don actually becoming head of SDL. Don had left Xerox PARC to head a laser program at Polaroid because the spin-out negotiations were going so slowly. After 6 months he wanted to return, but Spectra Diodes hired a distinguished technologist from Bell Labs. Unfortunately he was hit by a golf ball and didn’t want to risk his health insurance and resigned. Don then became head of Spectra Diode Labs. Don’s partner in the venture and my good friend Bill Streifer was not so lucky. He died of an in-operable brain tumor at 52.

Digital Equipment and Spectra Physics no longer exist, but Xerox learned how to change and adapt and is still going strong, hardened by recovering from a never-ending series of failures. Like Sarnoff Lab, Xerox PARC is now PARC Laboratories and does contact research. {But as of 2023 PARC was given to Stanford Research Institute}

Dan contributed significantly to the growth of Applied Materials and one of the hall-marks of his tenure was the ability to drive change needed to foster and sustain growth. Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman used to claim he was the same as anyone else, he could just make mistakes at a faster rate. Dan could make mistakes at a fast enough rate that the outcomes remained positive because he and the team were willing to drive change. If you swing for the fence, some of the balls are going to fall short. Like Ted Williams, Dan may be the last of the 400 hitters.

In 1958 while I was a junior in high school, I spent a summer working at the Sylvania Avionics Lab in Waltham Mass. I encountered projects developing silicon integrated circuits and projects for the B1 bomber that would not fly for another 20 years. Sylvania no longer exists.

In 1959 I won the Massachusetts State Science Fair which was held at MIT with a project studying electroluminescence. At that time I was headed for the Worcester Polytechic Institute, but during the public viewing period I was visited by the head of MIT admissions and a week later I got a letter inviting me to join the Freshman class.

During my Freshman year I wrote to the RCA Sarnoff Laboratory and asked to come work for them for the summer. They accepted and I spent an exciting summer being exposed to technology that I would see commercialized over the next twenty years. Unfortunately, RCA no longer exists although the Sarnoff Lab was eventually incorporated into the Stanford Research Institute.

At the end of my senior year at MIT I had the opportunity to work for a summer at the Phillips Nat Lab in Eindhoven where I worked on indium tin oxide thin film transistors which had been invented the year before at RCA. I had an exciting summer, but unfortunately for me, two years earlier now Nobel Laureate J Robert Schreiffer had been there as a summer student and written his famous paper on the contribution of surface scattering to mobility in semiconductors. My hosts were expecting similar summer output from me. I knew Bob Schreiffer (and John Bardeen from whom I learned semiconductor physics) at the University of Illinois who won the Nobel Prize for the theory of superconductivity. I joked with him about what he had done to me…

The Phillips lab as it was then no longer exists.

ATT Bell Labs and Xerox PARC no longer exist as they were. In fact technology companies that could not evolve in response to market and external forces no longer exist and those that have survived like IBM and GE have undergone radical transformation. Throughout my life I have been at a great number of institutions of which I am proud to be from. But those that have survived have all changed.

I joined Applied Materials in 1991 and I appreciate the lifeline Dan extended to me at that time in my life. Frankly I did not anticipate how exciting and rewarding the trip it would be. So much of what we accomplished together has similar stories of unexpected turns of events and out-comes but I will save those stories of successes and failures for another time.

Applied Materials is changing and should continue to thrive in new forms because of Dan (and Jim’s) legacy of innovation and change. Built to Last means built to change.

For those who have transitioned it is a great place to be from and for those who continue Applied Materials is still an exciting company with great prospects. Fulfilling those prospects was not easy and finding the right path to the future will not be easy. I am confident that many years from now Applied Materials can be even more successful, but that is not guaranteed.

With best wishes to Dan for his coming adventures and gratitude for having been part of his journey at various time. In one way or another, I know there is more to come….

Bob Bachrach

12 September 2005

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