Harvard University Press; Cambridge; 185 pages; $24.95
Thoughtful U.S. scientists might wonder why Europe lags so far behind in microelectronics. Hans Queisser, director of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, West Germany, offers a precise explanation: "The significance of silicon was underestimated, the economic miracle of post-World War II reconstruction was based on conventional industry, and public and government priorities lay here." He prefers this explanation to others he poses: that Europe was tired, stupid, lazy, sleeping, or sabotaged.
Queisser does not analyze historical developments deeply, but he does offer interesting information and unique perspective. In the early chapters on the history of microelectronics and computing, Queisser presents rich details. He highlights the often-overlooked contributions of European researchers, from whose work in electronics, X-rays, and computing much of the silicon revolution stemmed. For example, few books by U.S. authors...