Background of KMI

In the 1960s, a semiconductor known as MOS-LSI (Metal Oxide Silicon Large Scale Integration) was the key component of electronic calculator, a very early stage of the modern personal computer. MOS-LSI was developed by R&D units of Fairchild Semiconductors, Motorola and Texas Instruments, the First Genera- tion TRIO of Semiconductor Industry. However, none of them were successful producing it in large volume. 

It was in this climate that several former Fairchild people founded AMI (American Microsystems Inc.) in Santa Clara, California, and began to successfully produce MOS-LSI in high volume for the first time. The founders included Howard Bobb (President), Vallandingham (VP, Finance), Warren Wheeler (VP, Engineer- ing) and Charlie Isherwood (VP, Manufacturing).

AMI was founded at almost the same time as the Second Generation TRIO of the Semiconductor Industry - Intel, National Semiconductors and AMD. Since AMI was the only supplier of MOS-LSI, the company made a huge profit (perhaps too much?) and had to pay a large amount of income tax. Not only to avoid huge tax bill but also to expand capacity to meet the fast growing market demand, AMI decided to build a Wafer Fabrication Plant in Pocatello, Idaho. However, even after such a considerable investment, a large amount of taxable profit remained.

In 1969, Manny Choy completed his assignment at Fairchild Semikor (Semiconductor Korea) in Seoul, and returned to Silicon Valley. He contacted AMI and got the agreement to build an AMI Assembly Plant in Korea. At the time, AMI had only a small Pilot Assembly Line at its Santa Clara facility and subcontracted most of its assembly to a Mexican company in Tijuana, Mexico. Since RICOH, an early electronic calculator manufacturer in Japan, was one of AMI's major customers, a Korean plant would make it very convenient to assemble, test and ship MOS-LSI directly from Korea to Ricoh in Japan.

And this was how KMI began.