Fairchild Semiconductor turns 50

Oct. 4 discussion to celebrate company that pioneered the processes behind microchips; event open to public

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor, the Stanford Silicon Valley Archives and Stanford's Bill Lane Center for the Study of the North American West will co-sponsor a panel discussion from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 in Cubberley Auditorium.

Fairchild, the company that pioneered the processes behind microchips—processes that are still in use today—was launched on the morning of Sept. 19, 1957. On that day, a group of eight young scientists and engineers, along with two venture capitalists and representatives of an established East Coast company, signed the papers to form the first successful semiconductor company in the place that would come to be known as Silicon Valley. In a decade, it grew from its core of eight employees to 11,000, with $12 million in profits.

Panelists will include three Fairchild Semiconductor founders and the venture capitalist who backed them: Gordon Moore, who went on to found Intel in 1968; Jay Last, who became co-founder of Amelco Semiconductor in 1961 and vice president for technology at Teledyne, the company that acquired Amelco; Julius Blank, who in 1978 founded Xicor, a manufacturer of nonvolatile memory devices; and Arthur Rock, now principal of Arthur Rock & Co., a venture capital firm.

Stanford President John Hennessy will introduce the panel, which will be moderated by Leslie Berlin of the Silicon Valley Archives. Housed in the Special Collections of Stanford University Libraries, the archives include a range of primary source materials on the development of Silicon Valley science and technology, such as unpublished professional correspondence, research notes, diaries, journals, project files, technical reports, organization charts and other corporate records, patent applications, blueprints, company brochures, product documentation, photographs, and transcripts or recordings of speeches and interviews.

The Fairchild founding team was remarkable. All eight founders were under 32 years old. Moore and Robert Noyce would eventually start microchip giant Intel. Eugene Kleiner would later establish one of the most successful venture capital firms in the world, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. Arthur Rock went on to back Intel and Apple, among other companies.

The event is free and open to the public. Information on the event and the Stanford Silicon Valley Archives is online at http://svarchive.stanford.edu/newsandevents.html.