From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rolls of lithographer's tape (these rolls are made by 3M). The roll in the back is 1/4 inch, the one in the front, 1/2 inch width. These products are often called "Rubylith" tape because Rubylith has become a generic term for coloured masking films.

Rubylith is a brand of masking film, invented and trademarked by the Ulano Corporation. Today the brand has become genericized to the point that it has become synonymous with all coloured masking films.

Rubylith consists of two films sandwiched together. The bottom layer is a clear polyester backing sheet; the top layer is a translucent, red-(ruby-)coloured sheet. The top layer can be cut and peeled away from the bottom layer. The top layer's colour is light-safe for orthochromatic films (which are sensitive to blue and green light but insensitive to red light).

Rubylith is used in many areas of graphic design, typically to produce masks for various printing techniques. For example it is often used to mask off areas of a design when using a photoresist to produce printing plates for offset lithography or gravure. It is also frequently used during screen-printing.

Ulano also produces a yellow coloured, masking film called Amberlith that is light safe only for blue-sensitive emulsions.

VLSI production[edit]

External images
image icon Original 8080 rubylith
image icon Rubylith operators at Intel, 1970s
image icon Mask Rubylith Layer for 4K DRAM
Founders of Intel inc. (Andy Grove, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore) standing next to a rubylith with a cutout of a circuit, 1978.

Rubylith was used in the early days of semiconductors and integrated circuits manufacturing as stencils to make photomasks (reticles).[1] The physical layouts of the first generations of Intel microprocessors were first hand drawn on graph paper. A technician would then use a coordinatograph to precisely cut the rubylith (laminated onto a transparent plastic such as mylar) and a knife (X-Acto) to peel the appropriate sections away while it was resting on the light table. The finished Rubylith mechanical masters were then photo reduced (onto a photographic film) up to 100 times and then step and repeated on to glass plates for production use. Usually, several such masks were made that were then used layer by layer.

Shortly after the 8008, Intel started using Calma's computer-aided design system that ran on a Data General minicomputer; the output masters may have stayed rubylith for a time, but other output options became available. Bell Telephone Laboratories, for example, had a high-resolution photoplotter.[2][3] The integrated circuit industry left rubylith for better technologies.

Certain digital image editing programs that have masking features may use a red overlay to designate masked areas, mimicking the use of actual Rubylith film.


For about ten years since 1968 engineers at Intel used manually drawn rubylith schematics to produce its first line of products: SRAM,[4] DRAM, and EPROM memory;[5] notable chips produced by using rubylith include:[5]: 6 
MOS Technology


  1. ^ a b c Masatoshi Shima was behind the chip implementation.
  2. ^ By several accounts.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Intel's Accidental Revolution". CNET.
  2. ^ Primary Pattern Generator discussed in Bell System Technical Journal, November 1970, volume 49 number 9.
  3. ^ a b Mensch, Jr., Bill (William David) oral history. Stephen Diamond, James Fortier, Jr. Mensch. Mountain View, California: Computer History Museum. 2014-11-10.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ Intel 64 bit static RAM rubylith : 6, c. 1970, retrieved 2023-01-28
  5. ^ a b c d e "Recollections of Early Chip Development at Intel" (PDF). Intel technology journal. 5 (2001). 2001. ISSN 1535-864X.
  6. ^ "Intel family Processor Evolution" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-11-11.
  7. ^ "Remembering Doug Bourn: Captain Zilog". Remembering Doug Bourn. 2010-02-22. Archived from the original on February 1, 2012. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  8. ^ "Chip Hall of Fame: Zilog Z80 Microprocessor - IEEE Spectrum". Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  9. ^ "research!rsc: The MOS 6502 and the Best Layout Guy in the World". Retrieved 2022-12-20.

External links[edit]