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The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon…
by Leslie Berlin
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Hailed as the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford of Silicon Valley, Robert Noyce was a brilliant inventor, a leading entrepreneur, and a daring risk taker who piloted his own jets and skied mountains accessible only by helicopter. Now, in The Man Behind the Microchip, Leslie Berlin captures not only this colorful individual but also the vibrant interplay of technology, business, money, politics, and culture that defines Silicon Valley. Here is the life of a high-tech industry giant. The co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, Noyce co-invented the integrated circuit, the electronic heart of every modern computer, automobile, cellular telephone, advanced weapon, and video game. With access to never-before-seen documents, Berlin paints a fascinating portrait of Noyce: an ambitious and intensely competitive multimillionaire who exuded a "just folks" sort of charm, a Midwestern preacher's son who rejected organized religion but would counsel his employees to "go off and do something wonderful," a man who never looked back and sometimes paid a price for it. In addition, this vivid narrative sheds light on Noyce's friends and associates, including some of the best-known managers, venture capitalists, and creative minds in Silicon Valley. Berlin draws upon interviews with dozens of key players in modern American business--including Andy Grove, Steve Jobs, Gordon Moore, and Warren Buffett; their recollections of Noyce give readers a privileged, first-hand look inside the dynamic world of high-tech entrepreneurship. A modern American success story, The Man Behind the Microchip illuminates the triumphs and setbacks of one of the most important inventors and entrepreneurs of our time.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)621.381 — Technology and Application of Knowledge Engineering and allied operations Applied physics Electrical, magnetic, optical, communications, computer engineering; electronics, lighting Electronics, communications engineering Electronics
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Robert “Bobby” Noyce was born on December 12, 1927, to Ralph and Harriet Noyce of Iowa. Ralph was a Christian Pastor for a small community and Harriet helped out with the day to day running of the Church. When the Great Depression struck in 1929 the Noyce family did not immediately feel its effects, Harriet was even able to give sandwiches to hobos for a time. Eventually, a drought came along though and the family moved to Grinnell, Iowa, where Robert would stay until he graduated from College.
Being the third son had an effect on Robert, mainly in his feeling that he had to go and match or surpass their accomplishments. With his older brothers netting excellent grades and having other virtues, Bobby grew up to be quite a perfectionist. From the very earliest memories of Robert, people could tell that he was smart or at least handy. He would constantly build things out of spare parts, though I suppose the biggest one was the Glider that he built when he was 12 or so. Even with all that, it seems that a great many people thought he was too down to earth to be the Valedictorian or whatever.
Upon reaching Graduate School for his Doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Robert found himself to be a Frog Croaking in a Well, if you will excuse the metaphor. He had to take some remedial classes just to get himself up to speed with the other students in his class. However, once he did get up to the level of everyone else, he started blowing them away.
The book goes on to discuss his professional career and private life; his work at Shockley Semiconductor under William Shockley, the support of Fairchild and the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor, the founding of Intel, and his last years as a person that passed the torch to the next generation. All throughout we meet many luminaries and shining stars of those companies. Noyce died on June 3, 1990, at the age of 62. His accomplishments and the companies that he founded live on, however. As far as I know, people still use microchips for things and Intel still exists even though it fell out of first place in chip sales.
I really liked the book. As with most books of this nature, there are plenty of photographs related to Noyce and his family. Several images show latency graphs and other things related to semiconductors and other things. ( )