On Thursday, October 4, 2007 Stanford Libraries and the Bill Lane Center for the Study of the North American West sponsored Fairchild Semiconductor’s fiftieth anniversary with founders Julius Blank, Jay Last, Gordon Moore and venture capitalist Arthur Rock. The panel was introduced by Stanford University President John Hennessy and moderated by Leslie Berlin of the Silicon Valley Archives. The widow of Robert Noyce, Ann Bowers also attended.
Fifty years ago this week, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik and the United States found itself behind in the race for technological superiority. That same week Fairchild Semiconductor was founded. Both events changed the world in fundamental ways. Soon afterward STC started its first chapter in Silicon Valley documenting those changes, but that is another story.
You have to remember, this was the 1950s, where you graduated from college and then went to work for one company for the rest of your life. Eight very smart people had been lured to California to work with Nobel Prize winning scientist William Shockley. He was a bad boss and proved it as the years went on. When they told Shockley to stuff it, the world changed. They were called traitors or crazy, but were ultimately successful. They created a culture in Silicon Valley that inspires people around the world take a chance on a brighter unknown future than a dismal present.
For some reason it was very emotional to see a picture of the dollar bill they all signed. It seems silly, but it was like looking at the Declaration of Independence or The Mayflower Compact. It was a symbol of people who were fed up and willing to strike out on their own. They exemplify a particularly American spirit of risking “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.”
Despite their previous employer and the attempts of others, they did “work in this town again”. Hell, they built it.
Things you did not know about the early days of Fairchild:
In 1959, the first products were shipped to customers in a empty Brillo cardbox taken from a supermarket. This makes Fairchild a pioneer in using recycled materials.
In 1962, Jerry Levine said they opened up an assembly plant in Hong Kong, being the first in Silicon Valley to outsource manufacturing to China.
Copyright 2007 DJ Cline All rights reserved.