In 1984, I joined the wafer quality group at Motorola Semiconductors Sector in Austin, TX. My first quality act was to join the American Society for Quality. At that time, competition from global organizations had already started; the main reason for losing market share was inferior quality. The simple measure was the first pass yield, which is the percentage of product produced defect-free for the first time without any repair or rework. As I remember our yields were in the 40% range, and for our competitors the yields were in the 80% and 90% range. The direct impact of higher yields was the lower product cost, which was half of the price of chips built in the U.S.
Motorola showed its quality leadership in 1981, when its leaders decided to improve quality by 10x in five years—which they soon realized was not sufficient to keep up with the competition. In 1986, Motorola leadership decided to improve quality by 10x in two years, and 100x in four years, and Six Sigma in five years. Motorola launched Six Sigma in 1987, which is widely used globally even today.