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By 1970 the semiconductor industry had been building momentum for at least a decade. Yet the companies supplying the equipment and materials that made possible the miniature wonders known as “chips” were all but invisible. The newly emerging industry was tiny then – only a few million dollars in global revenues – but a handful of visionary leaders came together to create a forum to shine the spotlight on equipment and materials suppliers. The resulting organization was called Semiconductor Equipment and Materials Institute, but was best known as SEMI®.
One of the early challenges facing the budding industry was marketplace visibility. The new SEMI organization quickly answered the challenge with the introduction of the first SEMICON® exposition. Appealing for its festive energy at the county fairgrounds in San Mateo, California, SEMICON was hugely successful.
With the proceeds generated by the show, the SEMI founders realized a unique opportunity to re-invest in their industry, and launched the SEMI Standards program. From its earliest successes in standardizing silicon wafers to current efforts in factory automation and software, the SEMI International Standards program has been helping to ensure open markets and lower semiconductor manufacturing costs for over 30 years. SEMI Standards have also facilitated the development of new industries, including the now pervasive foundry manufacturing model.
In the mid-1980s, semiconductor manufacturing centers began to develop around the globe. SEMI members and their customers were becoming more multi-national. True to its visionary beginnings, SEMI was at the forefront of supporting truly global industry development, despite then heightened trade friction. To ensure fair and open market access around the globe, SEMI transformed itself. The “I” in SEMI – which formerly stood for Institute – became “I” for International, and SEMI added support offices in the relevant areas of semiconductor manufacturing activity.
Throughout the 1990s, as the semiconductor equipment and materials industry grew in size and importance, it took on a greater role in developing the process solutions that have made possible the electronics-based society we now enjoy. SEMI also evolved with our industry, developing more of the products and services that its members value in an industry association, such as technical conferences, educational events and market data collection and analysis. As the voice of the industry, SEMI represents the collective interests of its membership, and is an advocate for the industry in the areas of public policy, environment, health and safety, workforce development and investor relations.
Today, the technologies created by SEMI members are applicable to a number of related industries, such as flat panel display and micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS). Accordingly, SEMI continues to add innovative programs in related technology areas. SEMI, as the only truly global representative of the semiconductor, display, MEMS and related industries, will continue to provide the valuable services that have made it the association of choice for the microelectronics ecosystem.