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Age of Abe
Militarization Can Help Japan Build Its Own Silicon Valley
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  • Jim__L

    It’s good to see the word getting out — Silicon Valley was built with Department of Defense money. Microcomputers (PC’s) were invented to provide guidance systems for missiles. Wireless technology was built off of military communication technology.

    The DoD’s ethic of, “This needs to happen. Make it happen. We’ll bankroll you” has its drawbacks — the bankrolls can get very large sometimes — but it is the source of everything in Silicon Valley, including the blueprint for Google Alphabet’s present-day innovation factory.

    • Andrew Allison

      Whilst it’s true that DARPA (inventor of the Internet among other things) and DoD have made significant contributions, the microcomputer was not developed for DoD. “The French developers of the Micral N (1973) filed their patents with the term “Micro-ordinateur”, a literal equivalent of “Microcomputer”, to designate the first solid state machine designed with a microprocessor. In the USA, the earliest models such as the Altair 8800 were often sold as kits to be assembled by the user, and came with as little as 256 bytes of RAM, and no input/output devices other than indicator lights and switches, useful as a proof of concept to demonstrate what such a simple device could do.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcomputer). FWIW, I sold Ted Hoff the PDP-8 he used in his work [grin]

      • Jim__L

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairchild_Semiconductor

        See the 1950s section of their history, which includes a nice picture of the brass plaque I would pass by on Charleston Road on my commute.

        See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Missiles_and_Space_Company

        See also Moffet Field, Ames Research Center, Varian Associates, etc etc etc.

        With a little bit of digging it’s clear — Silicon Valley was built with defense dollars.

        • Andrew Allison

          What your first link reveals is that “the traitorous eight” made their pitch to a company with “considerable military business.” That’s very different from being funded by DoD. It also reveals that “Noyce also expressed his belief that silicon semiconductors would herald the start of disposable appliances that, due to cheap electronic components, would not be repaired but merely discarded when worn out.” (I was a product marketing manager at Fairchild Semi in the ’70s, in the business for over 25 years, and know where many of the bodies are buried [grin]).
          There’s zero connection between either Ames or Varian with the semiconductor business after which Silicon Valley is named. It’s clear that it was NOT built with defense dollars.

          • Jim__L

            Everyone else around them was, but Fairchild wasn’t, so there’s no DoD to see here?

  • Kevin

    Japan’s high tech economy will surely allow it to be a formidable military power if it decides it wants to be.

    However ther is a question as to whether this will boost the economy. Japan and its firms are quite technically advanced with sophisticated R&D efforts. Will attempts to boost military R&D increase total R&D in Japan or just divert engineering and s intimidate talent from the civilian market to the military one?

    It should be noted that a generation ago Japan’s effort to build military aircraft and leverage this into economic growth failed pretty spectacularly. (Perhaps MITI’s worst failure.).

  • Fat_Man

    The Japanese airplane is probably as much better than the F35, as the Japanese cars were over American Cars in the 1980s, which is a lot.

    • f1b0nacc1

      The X-2 is a demonstrator, not a fighter or even a fighter prototype. Even so…it is better than the F-35

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I can’t think of a single defense contractor in Silicon Valley. The fact is none of the vibrant centers of high tech are ever associated with the government monopoly. The Government Monopoly like all Monopolies suffers from the same disease, the lack of the “Feedback of Competition”. It is the “Feedback of Competition” the provides both the Information and Motivation, that forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price in free markets. Thinking that the Japanese Government can build it’s own silicon valley when the American Government didn’t build America’s silicon valley, just isn’t reasonable.
    I’m reminded of the 80’s when Japan was on the rise, and was using its Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to try and dominate high tech markets, in particular memory chips. What happened was the companies in the chip industry formed a coalition to develop cheaper more powerful memory chips, and Japan couldn’t even come close to competing after spending billions. The Government Monopoly just can’t compete with the free market, they can throw huge amounts of money at research and development, but it isn’t cost effective as the free market would make much faster progress, for a tiny fraction of the cost.

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