Until the past year, it's safe to say that many of us had never heard of the Taiwan-based company Foxconn, whose Chinese factories (they also have a few, smaller facilities in the U.S. and other countries) make a huge amount of our gadgets for companies like Apple, Dell, and Amazon. That was, until the company was besieged by a string of negative revelations, mostly focused on working conditions and employee suicides--something the company tried to address by having workers sign a pact not to kill themselves--and most recently, this month's deadly explosion at an iPad polishing … Read more
We're losing the typewriter as the last manufacturers are phasing it out.
This means more than just the passing of a now-obsolete machine. It's the death of another little bit of cool the world will never get back.
I've always felt a connection to the typewriter. As a writer, I banged out my first spectacularly melodramatic and amateurish stories back in high school on a mechanical Smith Corona that had been discarded from my father's office in favor of new electrics.
I would move up to a word processor within mere months, but I would always miss the satisfying tactile sensation of banging away at those keys amid that snare drum patter as the misaligned keys pushed through a fading ribbon to the clean sheet of rolled paper. It didn't hurt my affection for the ole qwerty beast that my hometown is Milwaukee--where, in 1866, Christopher Latham Sholes invented what would evolve into the 20th century typewriter.
When I learned that the typewriter had passed into antiquity, it struck me that its replacements--from the desktop computer and the laptop to the smartphone and the iPad--will never muster the ambiance and sense of literary history graced upon the typewriter.
You want proof? Take a second and try to picture Beat Generation poet Jack Kerouac blowing the thick purple smoke from his "J" over a bottle of bourbon and the brushed aluminum and white keys of an iMac. "On the Road" would've hit the road without its rebellious aura.
If Ian Fleming had sat down at his desk on his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica to bang out "The Spy Who Loved Me" on a Dell Netbook, James Bond would've ended up drinking Kool-Aid, stirred and not shaken. … Read more
Bloomberg is reporting that Apple has signed on Chimei Innolux Corp. to assist with touch-screen production to help meet the overwhelming demand for the iPad 2.Chimei Innolux will begin supplying the components next month, said the people, who declined to be identified because the details aren't public. Taiwan's TPK Holding Corp. and Wintek Corp. (2384) remain Apple's key suppliers of the sensors that help the iPad tablet computer recognize finger movements, the people said.
Current shipping times from Apple for all models of the iPad 2 are two to three weeks, though with the addition of … Read more
It's now becoming increasingly clear that the global supply chain for electronics is going to be far more affected by the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear crisis still unfolding in Japan than previously thought.
Take for example the attention today on lithium ion batteries used in notebook PCs. Demand right now is not terribly high--it's a time of the year when consumers are buying fewer PCs--but consider what happens if the crisis persists. As Taiwan's Digitimes observes, a good bit of the world's production ecosystem for lithium ion batteries used in notebooks are not only located in Japan, but many … Read more
President Obama's attendance on Friday at a groundbreaking ceremony for an Intel manufacturing facility in Oregon comes at a critical moment for Intel, whose PC-centric chip manufacturing is being challenged by large, smartphone-centric Asia-based rivals.
The world's largest chipmaker announced last year that it would spend between $6 billion and $8 billion on U.S.-based manufacturing in Oregon and Arizona. Primarily targeted at building processors for the next generation of laptop, desktop, and server computers.
Obama is scheduled to attend a ceremony, hosted by Intel CEO Paul Otellini, for a future Intel plant that taps into some … Read more
Not every manufacturer enjoys the instant name recognition of Samsung and Motorola. But that doesn't mean they don't produce phones worth owning.
We periodically gather up the latest handsets from manufacturers that tend to scoot below the radar. After all, it wasn't so long ago that HTC was barely a speck on the map.
Our latest batch of five cell phones includes one promising Android smartphone.
More U.S. solar start-ups are finding that the route to the global solar panel market passes through government offices.
The meltdown of the financial markets over the past two years means that state, local, and federal incentives are increasingly part of the financial package solar start-ups need to assemble when looking to start manufacturing at large scale.
Silicon Valley-based SoloPower expects to hear next month whether its application to the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program will come through. Without the loan, private money, and incentives from its home town of San Jose, Calif., SoloPower would be looking … Read more
Robotics manufacturing tends to evoke visions of a John Henry-esque scenario in which competent women and men lose jobs to hunks of automated metal.
But in the case of Solyndra it may be robots that help American workers compete more effectively against China's low-cost labor force.
Consider the video that solar manufacturer Solyndra released this week illustrating how thin-film CIGS (copper, indium, gallium, and selenide) solar modules are produced.
In reality, the video (see below) is a showcase for the company's new state-of-the-art solar manufacturing plant, built with a $535 million federal loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, … Read more
Among the scores of fabless chip companies and product design houses in Silicon Valley, Intel is a standout. It's an American high-tech company that not only creates but builds some of the most sophisticated tech products in the world here. That contrasts with others, like Apple and Hewlett-Packard, that consign virtually all product manufacturing and assembly abroad.
Last week, I asked Intel co-founder Andy Grove how the chipmaker became one of the last, great high-tech manufacturing giants in the U.S. and why many Silicon Valley icons haven't done the same. Grove was Intel's chairman from May 1997 to May 2005 and served as chief executive from 1987 to 1998.
Intel's manufacturing strategy was underscored by a recent announcement to invest as much as $8 billion in new factories and facilities in the U.S. That's in addition to the roughly $34 billion it has already invested in its U.S. factories, including investment in a joint flash chip manufacturing venture with Micron Technology.
Grove says Intel has been making, or "fabbing," chips in the U.S. since its founding in 1968--for practical reasons, mind you. "That was not a result of us wanting to be patriotic. Operationally that was the most logical thing for us to do," he said, in a phone interview.
Why, historically, has it been practical for Intel? "The people doing the technology manufacturing were highly trained, highly disciplined staff. And there was a lot of desire to not start manufacturing operations willy-nilly all over the place," he said. … Read more
Thin-film solar-panel maker Solyndra will announce today it plans to close its Fab 1 plant in Fremont, Calif., The New York Times has reported.
The closing will result in 40 Solyndra employees being laid off. Another 150 subcontractors will not have their current work contracts renewed, according to the report.
But the news follows the opening of Solyndra's state-of-the-art Fab 2 plant near its original Fremont plant just weeks ago, which was built in part with a $535 million federal loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.
The Fab 2 plant, when fully operational, is capable of producing 500-megawatts … Read more