Applied Materials

Applied Materials microchip manufacturing

Can you imagine a world without microchips? Yet as recently as the late 1960s, only a handful of pioneering companies were exploring this world-changing technology. And, one of those pioneers was Applied Materials, Inc.

Founded on November 10, 1967, Applied was started with seed money from local investors. Today it is the global leader in nanomanufacturing technology solutions with a broad portfolio of innovative equipment, service and software products for the fabrication of semiconductor chips, flat panel displays, solar photovoltaic cells, flexible electronics and energy efficient glass. With net sales in 2006 of over $9 billion and approximately 14,000 employees worldwide, it is the leading equipment supplier to the world’s major technology manufacturers.

During the semiconductor industry’s early years, manufacturers designed and built most of their own equipment. That changed with Applied’s original engineering team’s vision to supply fabrication systems to the industry and develop the company’s first complete chemical vapor deposition (CVD) reactor, the AMV 300.

In the early years, Applied Materials began expanding globally. Then, in 1975, the entire semiconductor industry was hit by a severe recession. Within a year, Applied Materials was facing serious financial problems. Under the guidance of a new president, James C. Morgan, the company phased out several unprofitable products, closed subsidiaries, and returned its focus exclusively on the semiconductor equipment industry. The impact was immediate: Within one year the company recorded a 17% increase in sales.

In 1987, Applied Materials introduced the Precision 5000 CVD, a new revolutionary system that featured single-wafer, multichamber processing that could handle the new larger and more complex microchips.This technology established the company as the undisputed leader in single-wafer, multi-chamber fabrication architectures.

In the 1990s, the company saw further product expansion, including a move to supply flat panel display equipment, and a broader move to serve customers in Asia. By the late 1990s, the industry was hit with a triple wave of challenges: shrinking transistor sizes; the introduction of new, difficult-to-work-with materials; and a shift to larger wafers. Applied Materials engineers quickly enabled the company to be among the first semiconductor equipment makers to ship 300mm production systems to customers.

In 2003, Mike Splinter, a veteran of the semiconductor industry, was named president and CEO, while Jim Morgan continued as chairman of the board of directors. Under Splinter’s leadership, Applied Materials has reported solid financial results, achieved significant operational improvements, and continued to gain market share with its technology portfolio and new products.

No other chip equipment company has the breadth of products that Applied Materials offers as it enables its customers to produce virtually every new microchip, LCD flat panel display, and, in the near future, solar cells that will more cleanly power the world. The company’s vision is to be the global leader in nanomanufacturing technology solutions and to offer a trusted path to superior results.

Through its commitment to diversity and corporate responsibility, Applied Materials earns top rankings on numerous prestigious lists, including: Fortune magazine’s “America’s Most Admired Companies” and CRO magazine’s “100 Best Corporate Citizens.”

This history was written in 2008 by the Silicon Valley Historical Association.

Applied Materials website