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Robert Norton Noyce (December 12, 1927 – June 3, 1990), nicknamed "the Mayor of Silicon Valley", co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and Intelmarker in 1968. He is also credited (along with Jack Kilby) with the invention of the integrated circuit or microchip. While Kilby's invention was six months earlier, neither man rejected the title of co-inventor.

Biography

Early life and ancestors

He was born in Burlington, Iowamarker, the youngest of four sons of the Rev. Ralph Brewster Noyce. His father was a 1915 graduate of Doane Collegemarker; Oberlin College, 1920 and Chicago Theological Seminarymarker, 1923. He was a clergyman and the associate superintendent of the Congregational Christian Conference of Iowa in the 1930s and 1940s.

His mother, Harriet May Norton, a 1921 graduate of Oberlin Collegemarker, was the daughter of the Rev. Milton J. Norton, a Congregational clergyman, and Louise Hill. She has been described as a intelligent woman with a commanding will.

He was a descendant of Governor William Bradford (1590-1657) of the Plymouth Colony and a passenger on the Mayflower; Elder William Brewster , (c. 1567 - April 10, 1644), the Pilgrim leader and spiritual elder of the Plymouth Colony and a passenger on the Mayflower; Martha Wadsworth Brewster (1710 - c. 1757) a notable 18th-century American poet and writer, and the Rev. Reuben Gaylord (1812 - 1880), Yale College 1834 & 1838, a clergyman and a founder of Grinnell College.

Education

He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in physics and mathematics from Grinnell College in 1949 and a Ph.D. in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker in 1953. He studied the first transistors, developed at Bell Laboratoriesmarker, in a Grinnell College classroom.

While a student at Grinnell College, Noyce stole a pig from a nearby farmer for a college luau and then slaughtered it in Clark Hall. Confessing to the prank and offering to pay for the pig nearly earned him expulsion, if not for the intervention of Grant O. Gale, a physics professor at the time.

Career

After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953, he took his first job as a research engineer at the Philco Corporation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniamarker. He left in 1956 for the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in Mountain View, Californiamarker.

He joined William Shockley at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, a division of Beckman Instruments, but left with the "Traitorous Eight" in 1957, because of the poor management of the company, to create the influential Fairchild Semiconductor corporation. According to Sherman Fairchild, Noyce's impassioned presentation of his vision was the reason Sherman Fairchild had agreed to create the semiconductor division for the Traitorous Eight.

Noyce and Gordon E. Moore (a chemist and physicist) founded Intel, in 1968 when they left Fairchild Semiconductor. The relaxed culture that Noyce brought to Intel was a carry-over from his style at Fairchild Semiconductor. He treated employees as family, rewarding and encouraging team work. His follow-your-bliss management style set the tone for many Valley success stories.

Noyce's management style could be called "roll up your sleeves." He shunned fancy corporate cars, reserved parking spaces, private jets, offices, and furnishings in favor of a less-structured, relaxed working environment in which everyone contributed and no one benefited from lavish perquisites. By declining the usual executive perks he stood as a model for future generations of Intel CEOs. At Intel, he oversaw Ted Hoff's invention of the microprocessor—that was his second revolution.

One-time Intel CEO Andy Grove on the other hand, believed in maximizing the productivity of his employees, and he and the company became known for his guiding motto: "Only the paranoid survive". He was notorious for his directness in finding fault and would question his colleagues so intensely as occasionally to border on intimidation.

Grove considered Noyce to be a "nice guy" but ineffectual. Noyce was, in Grove's estimation, essentially anti-competitive. This difference in styles reputedly caused some degree of friction between Noyce and Grove.

Intel's headquarters building, the Robert Noyce Building, in Santa Clara, Californiamarker is named in his honor, as is the Robert N. Noyce '49 Science Center, which houses the science division of Grinnell College.

In his last interview , Noyce was asked what he would do if he were “emperor” of the United States. He said that he would, among other things, “make sure we are preparing our next generation to flourish in a high-tech age. And that means education of the lowest and the poorest, as well as at the graduate school level.”

Family

He married Elizabeth Bottomley in 1953 and divorced in 1974. They had four children together. Later in 1974 Noyce married Ann Bowers. Bowers was the first Director of Personnel for Intel Corporation and the first Vice President of Human Resources for Apple Inc.marker She now serves as Chair of the Board and the founding trustee of the Noyce Foundation. Active all his life, Noyce enjoyed reading Hemingway, flying his own airplane, hang gliding, and scuba diving.

He believed that microelectronics would continue to advance in complexity and sophistication well beyond its current state, leading to the question of what use society would make of the technology.

Noyce died from heart failure on June 3, 1990 at the Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas.

At the time of his death, he was the president and chief executive officer of Sematech Inc.,a non-profit consortium that performs basic research into semiconductor manufacturing. It was organized as a partnership between the United States government and 14 corporations in an attempt to help the American computer industry catch up with the Japanese in semiconductor manufacturing technology.

Awards and honors

In July, 1959, he filed for "Semiconductor Device and Lead Structure", a type of integrated circuit. This independent effort was recorded only a few months after the key findings of inventor Jack Kilby. For his co-invention of the integrated circuit and its world-transforming impact, three presidents of the United States honored him.

He would eventually accumulate sixteen patents to his name.

Noyce was awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor in 1978 "for his contributions to the silicon integrated circuit, a cornerstone of modern electronics." In 1979, he was awarded the National Medal of Science. In 1990, the National Academy of Engineering awarded him its Draper Prize.

Mr. Noyce was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1989.

Legacy

The Noyce Foundation was founded in 1991 by his family. The foundation is dedicated to improving public education in mathematics and science in grades K-12.

Robert Noyce was the subject of the piece "Two Young Men Who Went West" in Tom Wolfe's book Hooking Up, a collection of essays and short stories published in 2000.

Noyce patents

  • Method and apparatus for forming semiconductor structures, filed August 1954, issued February 1959, assigned to Philco Corporation
  • Transistor structure and method, filed April 1957, issued March 1960, assigned to Beckmann Instruments
  • Semiconductor scanning device, filed June 1959, issued November 1960, assigned to Fairchild Semiconductor
  • Transistor structure and method of making the same, filed March 1957, issued January 1961, assigned to Clevite Corporation
  • Semiconductor switching device, filed June 1959, issued February 1961, assigned to Fairchild Semiconductor
  • Semiconductor Device and Lead Structure, filed July 1959, issued April 1961, assigned to Fairchild Semiconductor
  • Field effect transistor, filed January 1958, issued November 1961, assigned to Clevite Corporation
  • Field controlled avalanche semiconductive device, filed February 1958, issued July 1963, assigned to Clevite Corporation
  • Method for fabricating transistors, filed June 1959, issued October 1963, assigned to Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp.
  • Transistor structure controlled by an avalanche barrier, filed June 1958, issued November 1963, assigned to Clevite Corporation
  • Method of making a transistor structure (coinventor William Shockley), filed April 1957, issued July 1964, assigned to Clevite Corporation
  • Semiconductor circuit complex having isolation means, filed September 1959, issued September 1964, assigned to Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp.
  • Method of forming a semiconductor, filed July 1963, issued May 1965, assigned to Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp.
  • Solid state circuit with crossing leads, filed April 1961, issued August 1965, assigned to Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp.
  • Trainable system, filed October 1964, issued June 1967, assigned to Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp.


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