Artifact Details


IC's in Testingland

Catalog Number



Moving image


1977 ca.


Marshall, Martin


Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation. Fairchild Systems Technology




Digital Video Disc (DVD)


This 1977 movie was written, produced, and directed by Martin Marshall, and explores the value of integrated circuit (IC) testing through parody of Alice in Wonderland. It includes numerous pop culture, literary, and industry references, along with complete set pieces and costumes. The opening scene is a 10-minute soliloquy, parodying the "Oh that this too too solid flesh would thaw, melt, and resolve itself into a dew!" (Hamlet, Act I, Scene 2) and "To Be or Not To Be..." (Hamlet Act III, Scene 1) soliloquies from Hamlet:

"Oh, that this too too complex chip would / Partition itself into recognizable blocks, / Or that all its gates and wires would combine themselves into an introspective voltage upon a single pin! / What a single pin that line would feed / That all the chip's logic would diagnose itself and reduce its decision to a simple one or zero on an output line! But no, the chip tests not itself, but by incoming inspection / These dreams of self-testing ICs are for some better time / Some future generation where chip area is not so intensely fought for. To test, or not to test, that is the question: Whither 'tis cheaper in the end to pay / The QC department outrageous fortune,/ Or to seek out functional patterns within a sea of complexity / And by so stimulating, test them. To stimulate, to compare. / To compare, a chance to overlook - Ay, there's the bug: / For in those instruction sequences, who is to say which voltage and timing conditions, / Which interrupted pattern sequences will bear the name "worst case?" / Indeed, how can I say any pattern is worst case, / So long as untested possibilities outnumber tested ones, / Like the stars outnumber the trees? / In thought, this is a machine of ones and zeroes. / But in reality, those high and low voltages depend / On such subtle physical interactions as would turn the mind of Einstein awry, / Giving pause to his labors. / [A whisper of nothing,] the influence of a neighboring subcircuit, / Or a particular set of timing delays, these and what / Far more subtle factors I know not, / Can turn a good circuit into a malfunctioning monster."


Gift of Bob and Nancy Huston

Lot Number