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Visitors to the First SEMICON in 1971 Recall
Its Carnival Atmosphere
SEMI was formed in 1970 but the
was more or less a party. Most of the
first SEMICON show didn’t take
time was spent in the beer tent,” he
place until May the following year.
recalled in an interview conducted
It was a challenge to get the first
in 2008. (Note: Many years later,
show up and running within
SEMI reintroduced the beer tent
a four month timeframe,
concept at San Francisco’s
according to Rich Banks
who was hired by SEMI to
Galarneau went to work
stage the event.
for Zilog after Varian, before
Since Banks, who prejoining SEMI in 1982 as the
viously worked in electronic
Rich Banks director of trade shows.
component distribution, didn’t
Things got easier for the second
know anybody in the equipment
show, known as SEMICON 2, and
business, he relied on SEMI coby the time the third one was held
founder Bill Hugle, who had founded in 1973, it was considered a success,
equipment company Hugle Industries said Banks, who staged all the SEMI
trade shows for the remainder of the
“Hugle would make three calls,
decade under his company Golden
two would hang up on him but the
third one he got. Without Bill we
However, there was still chaos
wouldn’t have had that first trade
and controversy in those early days.
show,” Banks said in an interview at At the second show, important VIP
his home in Arnold, California, in
guests like Howard Moss from Texas
Instruments found they had no hotel
The first show had around 100
room to stay in after a disgruntled
exhibitors, but 20 of those were
desk clerk who got fired took the
“ring-ins”, said Banks. They inreservation list when he left.
cluded a coffee making company and
Then there was the Cold War
an insurance firm run by Y.A. Tittle, incident. The head of the Russian
a retired quarterback from the San
consulate in San Francisco attended
Francisco 49ers. “We called it electhe show at the invitation of Banks,
tronics insurance,” quipped Banks.
who subsequently got a visit from the
Even then, there weren’t enough exCIA. But he wasn’t in any trouble.
hibitors to fill the Hall of Flowers at
“They loved it. The CIA wanted
the San Mateo County Fairgrounds,
to see these guys out in the open,”
so part of the hall was partitioned off Banks said.
so it wouldn’t look too empty.
A few years later, after one of the
Bill Galarneau, who visited the
SEMICON Europa shows, Banks had
first SEMICON while he worked
another brush with the CIA when
at Varian, remembers it having a
they called to ask for his help after
some equipment displayed at the
“People came to the show looking
Zurich show ended up behind the
for jobs, exchanging information. It
When SEMICON grew larger than
the Hall of Flowers, exhibitors were
housed in offsite buildings but the
challenge was to encourage visitors to
go there. Banks introduced a live band,
which played outside and was effective
in getting visitors out of the main hall.
Some exhibitors in the remote
locations weren’t happy. Shoichiro
Yoshida, who many years later
would become chairman and CEO
of Nikon, manned the Nikon booth
at SEMICON West in 1976, the first
time the Japanese company had
“At our first SEMICON West we
exhibited only measuring machines
and comparison microscopes. We had
not developed a stepper by that time.
So our booth was very small...and far
away from the center of the expo,” he
said. “It was very difficult to make
arrangements to demonstrate our machines [to customers]. I installed the
machines to demonstrate at the booth.
It was very hard work.”
In 1973 SEMI gave Banks a contract to stage annual SEMICON
shows on the East Coast, first in
Long Island and later in Boston, but
they didn’t work out due to the lack
of market demand.
However, executives from East
Coast equipment companies, like
Jim Gallagher from GCA and Shelly
Weinig from MRC, would subsequently become involved in running
SEMI as board members and
This article is based on interviews conducted by Craig Addison for the SEMI
oral history project, from 2004 to 2008.
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