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Robert N. Noyce

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Robert N. Noyce

Robert Noyce
Born (1927-12-12)December 12, 1927
Burlington, Iowa
Died June 3, 1990(1990-06-03) (aged 62)
Austin, Texas
Alma mater Grinnell College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Occupation Co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Bottomley
Ann Bowers
Children William B. Noyce
Pendred Noyce
Priscilla Noyce
Margaret Noyce
Parents Ralph Brewster Noyce
Harriet May Norton

Robert Norton Noyce (December 12, 1927 – June 3, 1990), nicknamed "the Mayor of Silicon Valley", co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and Intel Corporation in 1968. He is also credited (along with Jack Kilby) with the invention of the integrated circuit or microchip which fueled the personal computer revolution and gave Silicon Valley its name.[1][nb 1]

Biography

Active all his life, Noyce enjoyed reading Hemingway, flying his own airplane, hang gliding, and scuba diving. Noyce 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. 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."[2]

Early life

Noyce was born on December 12, 1927, in Burlington, Iowa.[3][4][5][6][7] He was the third of four sons[5] of the Rev. Ralph Brewster Noyce.[8] His father was a 1915 graduate of Doane College, a 1920 graduate of Oberlin College, and a 1923 graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary. He was also nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship.[9] The Reverend Noyce was a Congregational clergyman and the associate superintendent of the Iowa Conference of Congregational Churches in the 1930s and 1940s.

His mother, Harriet May Norton, was the daughter of the Rev. Milton J. Norton, a Congregational clergyman, and Louise Hill. She graduated from Oberlin College in 1921 and had dreamed of becoming a missionary prior to her marriage.[10] She has been described as an intelligent woman with a commanding will.[11]

Bob had three siblings: Donald Sterling Noyce, Gaylord Brewster Noyce and Ralph Harold Noyce.[5][12] His earliest childhood memory involved beating his father at ping pong and feeling absolutely shocked when his mother's reaction to this thrilling news was a distracted "Wasn't that nice of Daddy to let you win?" Even at the age of five, Noyce was offended by the notion of intentionally losing at anything. "That's not the game," he sulked to his mother. "If you're going to play, play to win!"[12]

In the summer of 1940, when he was 12, he built a boy-sized aircraft with his brother, which they used to fly from the roof of the Grinnell College stables. Later he built a radio from scratch and motorized his sled by welding a propeller and an engine from an old washing machine to the back of it.[13] His parents were both religious but Noyce described himself as an agnostic.[14]

Education

He grew up in Grinnell, Iowa and attended the local schools. He exhibited a talent for mathematics and science while in high school and took the Grinnell College freshman physics course in his senior year. He graduated from Grinnell High School in 1945 and entered Grinnell College in the fall of that year. He was the star diver on the 1947 Midwest Conference Championship swim team.[11] While at Grinnell College, Noyce sang, played the oboe and acted. In Noyce’s junior year, he got in trouble for stealing a 25 pound pig from the mayor of Grinnell’s farm and roasting it at a school luau. The mayor sent a letter home to Noyce’s parents stating that “In the agricultural state of Iowa, stealing a domestic animal is a felony which carries a minimum penalty of a year in prison and a fine of one thousand dollars.” So essentially, Noyce would have to be expelled from Grinnell College. Grant Gale, Noyce’s physics professor and the President of Grinnell College, did not want to lose a student like Robert who had so much potential. They were able to compromise with the mayor so that the college would compensate him for the pig, Noyce would only be suspended for one semester, and no further charges would be pressed. He returned to Grinnell in February 1949.[15] He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in physics and mathematics from Grinnell College in 1949. He also received a signal honor from his classmates: the Brown Derby Prize, which recognized "the senior man who earned the best grades with the least amount of work".

While an undergraduate, Noyce attended a physics course of the professor Grant Gale and was fascinated by the physics. Gale got hold of two of the very first transistors ever to come out of Bell Labs and showed them off to his class and Noyce was hooked.[11][16][17] Grant Gale suggested that he apply to the doctoral program in physics at MIT, which he did.[18]

Noyce had a mind so quick that his graduate school friends called him "Rapid Robert".[19] He received his doctorate in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953.

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, Pennsylvania. He left in 1956 for the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in Mountain View, California.

He joined William Shockley, a co-inventor of the transistor and eventual Nobel Prize winner, at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory,[20] a division of Beckman Instruments.

Noyce left with the "traitorous eight"[21] in 1957, upon having issues with respect to the quality of its management, and co-founded the influential Fairchild Semiconductor corporation. According to Sherman Fairchild, Noyce's impassioned presentation of his vision was the reason Fairchild had agreed to create the semiconductor division for the traitorous eight.[21]

Noyce and Gordon Moore founded Intel in 1968 when they left Fairchild Semiconductor.[19][22] Arthur Rock, the chairman of Intel's board and a major investor in the company said that for Intel to succeed, Intel needed Noyce, Moore and Andrew Grove. And it needed them in that order. Noyce: the visionary, born to inspire; Moore: the virtuoso of technology; and Grove: the technologist turned management scientist.[23] 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 teamwork. His follow-your-bliss management style set the tone for many Valley success stories. Noyce's management style could be called a "roll up your sleeves" style. 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 received lavish benefits. 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, which was his second revolution.[24][25]

Death

Noyce suffered a heart attack at home on June 3, 1990, and later died at the Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas.[26]

Personal life

In 1953, Noyce married Elizabeth Bottomley.[27] She was a 1951 graduate of Tufts University. During this time, the couple lived in Los Altos, California. They had four children: William B., Pendred, Priscilla, and Margaret. Elizabeth loved New England, so the family acquired a 50-acre coastal summer home in Bremen, Maine. Elizabeth and the children would summer there.[28] Robert would visit during the summer, but he continued working at Intel during the summer.

Robert started an extramarital affair with an attractive, intelligent, 28-year old, self-sufficient, divorced mother of three, Intel mask designer, Barbara Maness; the affair was an "open secret" at Intel.[29] After Elizabeth learned of the affair, the marriage ended in divorce. The couple divorced in 1974.[30]

On November 27, 1974, Noyce married Ann Schmeltz Bowers. Bowers, a 1959 graduate of Cornell University,[31] also received an honorary Ph.D. from Santa Clara University, where she was a trustee for nearly 20 years. She was the first Director of Personnel for Intel Corporation and the first Vice President of Human Resources for Apple Inc. She currently serves as Chair of the Board and the founding trustee of the Noyce Foundation.[32]

Awards and honors

In July 1959, he filed for Jack Kilby. For his co-invention of the integrated circuit and its world-transforming impact, three presidents of the United States honored him.

Noyce was a holder of many honors and awards. President Ronald Reagan awarded him the National Medal of Technology in 1987.[33] Two years later, he was inducted into the U.S. Business Hall of Fame sponsored by Junior Achievement,[34] during a black tie ceremony keynoted by President George H. W. Bush.[35] In 1990 Noyce – along with, among others, Jack Kilby and transistor inventor John Bardeen – received a "Lifetime Achievement Medal" during the bicentennial celebration of the Patent Act.

Noyce received the Franklin Institute's Stuart Ballantine Medal in 1966.[36] He was awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor in 1978 "for his contributions to the silicon integrated circuit, a cornerstone of modern electronics."[37][38] In 1979, he was awarded the National Medal of Science. Noyce was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1980.[39] The National Academy of Engineering awarded him its 1989 Charles Stark Draper Prize.[40]

The science building at his alma mater, Grinnell College, is named after him.

On December 12, 2011, Noyce was honored with a Google Doodle celebrating the 84th anniversary of his birth.[41]

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.[32]

Patents

Noyce was granted 15 patents.

  • U.S. Patent 2,875,141 Method and apparatus for forming semiconductor structures, filed August 1954, issued February 1959, assigned to Philco Corporation
  • U.S. Patent 2,929,753 Transistor structure and method, filed April 1957, issued March 1960, assigned to Beckmann Instruments
  • U.S. Patent 2,959,681 Semiconductor scanning device, filed June 1959, issued November 1960, assigned to Fairchild Semiconductor
  • U.S. Patent 2,968,750 Transistor structure and method of making the same, filed March 1957, issued January 1961, assigned to Clevite Corporation
  • U.S. Patent 2,971,139 Semiconductor switching device, filed June 1959, issued February 1961, assigned to Fairchild Semiconductor
  • U.S. Patent 2,981,877 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
  • U.S. Patent 3,098,160 Field controlled avalanche semiconductive device, filed February 1958, issued July 1963, assigned to Clevite Corporation
  • U.S. Patent 3,108,359 Method for fabricating transistors, filed June 1959, issued October 1963, assigned to Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp.
  • U.S. Patent 3,111,590 Transistor structure controlled by an avalanche barrier, filed June 1958, issued November 1963, assigned to Clevite Corporation
  • U.S. Patent 3,140,206 Method of making a transistor structure (coinventor William Shockley), filed April 1957, issued July 1964, assigned to Clevite Corporation
  • U.S. Patent 3,150,299 Semiconductor circuit complex having isolation means, filed September 1959, issued September 1964, assigned to Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp.
  • U.S. Patent 3,183,129 Method of forming a semiconductor, filed July 1963, issued May 1965, assigned to Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp.
  • U.S. Patent 3,199,002 Solid state circuit with crossing leads, filed April 1961, issued August 1965, assigned to Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp.
  • U.S. Patent 3,325,787 Trainable system, filed October 1964, issued June 1967, assigned to Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp.

Notes

Citations

References

  • Berlin, Leslie The man behind the microchip: Robert Noyce and the invention of Silicon Valley Publisher Oxford University Press US, 2005 ISBN 0-19-516343-5
  • Burt, Daniel S. The chronology of American literature: America's literary achievements from the colonial era to modern times Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004. ISBN 0-618-16821-4
  • Jones, Emma C. Brewster. The Brewster Genealogy, 1566-1907: a Record of the Descendants of William Brewster of the "Mayflower," ruling elder of the Pilgrim church which founded Plymouth Colony in 1620. New York: Grafton Press, 1908.
  • Lécuyer, Christophe. Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970 Published by MIT Press, 2006.ISBN 0262122812
  • Shurkin, Joel N.. Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley, Creator of the Electronic Age Publisher Palgrave Macmillan, 2007 ISBN 0-230-55192-0
  • Tedlow, Richard S. Giants of enterprise: seven business innovators and the empires they built Publisher Harper Collins, 2003 ISBN 0-06-662036-8

Further reading

  • Gaylord, Mrs. Mary M. Welles. Omaha: Rees Printing Company, 1889.
  • Jones, Emma C. Brewster. New York: Grafton Press, 1908.
  • Wolfe, Tom. New York. Publisher: Macmillan, 2001.

External links

  • Noyce biography on PBS.org
  • Noyce biography on IdeaFinder.com
  • Noyce Foundation website
  • Guide to the Robert Noyce Papers at Stanford University
  • Obituary of Donald Noyce, brother of Robert Noyce.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
Business positions
Preceded by
Company founded
Intel CEO
1968–1975
Succeeded by
Gordon Moore

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