Over at the GSA Forum website I have an article on the history of the semiconductor industry. It is actually based on a couple of a number of blogs I published last year but edited down a lot and tightened up.
Since the start of the year seems to be the time for predictions, here are the last couple of paragraphs, which are a look to the future. No surprises here for anyone who has been reading my stuff, I'm not as optimistic as some people:
Looking to the future, Moore's law is under pressure. Not from a technical point of view; it is clear that it is possible to go on for many process nodes, but from an economic point of view: it is not clear that the cost to manufacture a million transistors is going to come down.
One major challenge is that for the foreseeable future, multiple masks are needed to manufacture some of the chip, pushing up costs. Extreme ultra-violet lithography (EUV) is a possible savior, but there are so many issues that it probably will not be ready until the end of the decade. Bigger 450mm (18-inch) wafers are another possible driver to bring down costs, but are also years away.
So it is possible that the exponential cost reduction that has driven electronics for decades is coming to an end. Electronics will still have more capability, but may not get cheaper and cheaper in the way that we have become accustomed.
The GSA Forum website is here. My article is here. You can download the entire December 2012 issue of GSA Forum here (pdf).