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Re: Corrections about Bob Noyce and Intel
On Fri, 17 Nov 1995, Timothy C. May wrote:
> At 4:55 PM 11/17/95, attila wrote:
> > 2. most were pioneers: a specific example is Bob Norris who walked
> > out of a Fairchild board meeting being being rejected for his
> > eighth try at replacing Germanium because the first seven had
> > failed. A couple of VCs, among them Arthur Rock and Bob Perring
> > said: "...we believe you, let's try silicon..." and we have Intel.
a sign of getting old: blowing names. yes, it is Noyce.
> Bob Noyce was already making silicon devices at Fairchild. The "planar
> process" was developed by him in the late 50s. It is not the case that
> Fairchild was stuck making germanium, nor that Intel was the first to use
> silicon. I could go on about the actual history, but this is far from the
> themes of this list, and many books cover the history very well.
> What Intel pioneered the development of was _silicon-gate MOS_, where the
> aluminum gates of traditional silicon devices is replaced with polysilicon
> gates. Intel did this by hiring the silicon-gate gurus from Fairchild
> (Vadasz, Grove, Faggin, etc.).
you are probably correct, I did not follow the actual technology. I
do know that from the financial point of view, there had been too many
failures to justify another large project --yes, that could have been
the silicon-gate MOS theory. But there certainly was a parting of the
ways over funding, to the probable good of the industry since
Fairchild was already very stodgy. You do need a new, ambitious
venture to exploit a new technology --one with a single goal, and
Intel certainly was that vehicle.
The closest I got to Fairchild Semiconductor was when I was consulting
as a hatchet man to "save" another, newly acquired, Fairchild division
which had a desparate need for 100K ECL parts which were not really
on the market in 1977. The labs in the old building 2 were in pitiful
shape, and that is where 100K ECL had been ostracized --the new
division's product was hot on the list of then current Fairchild
president, Cronin, who suffered through my presenation of why I
needed $1M plus the 100K lab and fab upgraded --funding for both was
the same day, not the usual 3-6 months. Nice corporate jet at the
time.... :) and, yes, both projects were _very_ successful.
> > But, who drives Intel today? --Grove, who is labelled as the
> > founder. Grove made the _business_ -the brains have been
> > forgotten. Norris was the darling of the VCs for a couple years
> > until they figured he couldn't spot a _financial_ success.
> Grove remains a technologist--I studied semiconcuctor physics from his
> wonderful 1967 book, "The Physics and Technology of Seminconductor
> Devices"--and the group that leads Intel is highly technical. Gordon Moore
> remains connected, materials scientist Craig Barrett (who hired me into
> Intel in '74, ironically) is next-in-line to be President, Gerry Parker is
> a top technologist, and so on.
Grove _was_ a technologist, but his current competitive tactics may
have been the tutor for Bill Gates --or is the other way around? :)
since Bill is the most effective and feared, even by government, of
competition by terror tactics ever seen --beats even Cornelius
Vanderbilt who tried to contain Edison so his gas businesses would not
suffer --CB _financed_ Edison and then tried to block Edison --who
then essentially gave NYC the downtown power station, building it in
defiance of CB.
But, even if Edison was the inventor, he was not a visionary: he had
Tesla, who already had an AC motor, in his employ in the 1880s; they
parted as Edison would not budge off DC and Tesla sold his AC
Techology to George Westinghouse who had a great deal of money from
his air brakes. When Tesla received the Niagra Fall power generator
contract, DC was history and the huge generators Tesla designed are
still running at the base of the falls --90+ years!
The same analysis can be applied to to Bob Noyce v. Andrew Grove
--Andrew Grove may have been an engineer, but he also became a
visionary, as did Bill Gates.
I have not seen, or had the pleasure of seeing, Gordon Moore for at
least 10 years. Yes, he is a technologist; AND, he is a gentleman.
I do not know Craig Barrett. A Barrett presidency may change Intel's
voracious competitiveness, or it may not.
> As to Bob Noyce being the "darling of the VCs for a couple of years until
> they figured he couldn't spot a _financial_ success," I should just let
> that one pass. Noyce of course has been dead for several years. When he was
> alive, though, he "spotted" several financial successes.
your history is generally better than mine, Tim, but I will differ on
that point. in the 70s and 80s I was consulting to 3-7 of the heavy
players at that time in the Sandhill group plus the old guard
downtown on high-tech ventures --I always figured I would get the call
when their fear exceeded their greed. :) (and so stated by one of
you may be correct that Bob Noyce hit a couple of winners, but,
overall he did just the opposite. as two of the heavies stated over
lunch one day, "...having Bob Noyce's recommendation became the kiss
of death in this town..."
Now, granted, the VCs have their own point of view of what a
financial success is --after all, they base their views on an
investment strategy for 10 deals: 1 real winner (not necessarily a
NetScape or an Intel, but at least go public with a bang), 3 make
decent profit, 3 investment returned (or most of it), and 3 dead, or
close to dead, losses.
My objection to the VC financing strategy was that they also took
personal notes from the startup team and selectively enforced them,
usually on the pioneers and not the president and comptroller they
installed as part of the deal; and they have been known to take
Today's VC is a far cry from John D. Rockefeller who was vilified in
his day for his business practices --John D. took 10%, not 51% or more
plus personal notes.
BTW, John D. was the first "big" anti-trust case in the U.S. Ohio
drove him out of cleveland to NJ with their anti-trust actions in
1890 (or thereabouts) and the U.S. under Teddy "Rough Rider" Roosevelt
broke him apart nationally in 1909 for his slash and burn tactics.
Where is Teddy when we need him for Microsoft, not the awestruck
Bubba we have as commander and chief.
I should remember more about John D. and anti-trust than I do, but it
is over 30 years since I wrote my senior thesis at Harvard on
regulation of monopoly. --and age is setting in! :) Yes, I know you
are retired --hopefully happily with a pension. consultants with blood
on their hatchets make few friends, and the terms of getting old are
more like time involutarily on your hands in So CA's empty economy.
the hell you say, it's more like one big study and learn time!
Knowledge was and still is power! as long as we have cryptography to
Dr. Daniel Flickinger
> --Tim May