The Fairchild Eight
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By The Professor on September 27, 2014
In 1957, decades before Steve Jobs dreamed up Apple or Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, a group of eight brilliant young men defected from the Shockley Semiconductor Company in order to start their own transistor business. Their leader was 29-year-old Robert Noyce, a physicist with a brilliant mind, deep voice and the affability of a born salesman who would co-invent the microchip — an essential component of nearly all modern electronics today, including computers, motor vehicles, cell phones and household appliances.
Led by co-founder Robert Noyce, Fairchild Semiconductor began as a start-up company whose radical innovations would help make the United States a leader in both space exploration and the personal computer revolution, changing the way the world works, plays, and communicates.
Robert Noyce, nicknamed “the Mayor of Silicon Valley,” rejected the corporate hierarchy and empowered his employees. Noyce’s microchip ultimately re-shaped the future, launching the world into the Information Age.
As the Fairchild Eight began to leave the company, the companies they started (often referred to as “Fairchildren”) would lead to much of the exponential growth of what would become Silicon Valley. Robert Noyce himself defected from Fairchild Semiconductor in 1968 to start an integrated circuit company with Gordon E. Moore, Andy Grove, Max Palevsky, and Arthur Rock. They would name their company Intel.
The story of Robert Noyce and The Fairchild Eight is told in a recent episode of the PBS documentary program American Experience, the first segment of which is on YouTube and shown below. The documentary is currently streaming in its entirety on Netflix.
This article was posted by The Professor. Information cited from PBS’ American Experience.