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Hardcover | $28.95 Trade | £23.95 | 328 pp. | 7.5 x 10 in | 117 b&w illus. | September 2010 | ISBN: 9780262014243
eBook | $20.95 Trade | September 2010 | ISBN: 9780262290012
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Makers of the Microchip

A Documentary History of Fairchild Semiconductor
Foreword by Jay Last


In the first three and a half years of its existence, Fairchild Semiconductor developed, produced, and marketed the device that would become the fundamental building block of the digital world: the microchip. Founded in 1957 by eight former employees of the Schockley Semiconductor Laboratory, Fairchild created the model for a successful Silicon Valley start-up: intense activity with a common goal, close collaboration, and a quick path to the market (Fairchild’s first device hit the market just ten months after the company’s founding). Fairchild Semiconductor was one of the first companies financed by venture capital, and its success inspired the establishment of venture capital firms in the San Francisco Bay area. These firms would finance the explosive growth of Silicon Valley over the next several decades. This history of the early years of Fairchild Semiconductor examines the technological, business, and social dynamics behind its innovative products. The centerpiece of the book is a collection of documents, reproduced in facsimile, including the company’s first prospectus; ideas, sketches, and plans for the company’s products; and a notebook kept by cofounder Jay Last that records problems, schedules, and tasks discussed at weekly meetings. A historical overview, interpretive essays, and an introduction to semiconductor technology in the period accompany these primary documents.

About the Authors

Christophe Lécuyer is Professor of the History of Science and Technology at Université Pierre et Marie Curie and the author of Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970 (MIT Press, 2005).

David C. Brock is Senior Research Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation's Center for Contemporary History and the editor of Understanding Moore's Law: Four Decades of Innovation.

Table of Contents

  • Makers of the Microchip
  • This is a joint publication of the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Center for Contemporary History and Policy and the MIT Press.
  • The Center’s program in the Chemical History of Electronics is devoted to studying the place of materials and chemical processes in the history of electronics, particularly semiconductor electronics.
  • About the Chemical Heritage Foundation
  • The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) fosters an understanding of chemistry’s impact on society. An independent nonprofit organization, we strive to inspire a passion for chemistry, highlight chemistry’s role in meeting current social challenges, and preserve the story of chemistry across centuries. CHF maintains major collections of instruments, fine art, photographs, papers, and books. We host conferences and lectures, support research, offer fellowships, and produce educational materials. Our museum and public programs explore subjects ranging from alchemy to nanotechnology.
  • [CHF logo here]
  • Chemical Heritage Foundation
  • 315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
  • Phone: 215-925-2222 Fax 215-925-1954
  • Makers of the Microchip
  • A Documentary History of Fairchild Semiconductor
  • Christophe Lécuyer
  • David C. Brock
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • © 2010
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • For information about special quantity discounts, email
  • Set in Stone Sans and Stone Serif by Graphic Composition, Inc.
  • {Comp: Please fill your name in above}
  • Printed and bound in Canada.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Lécuyer, Christophe. Makers of the microchip : a documentary history of Fairchild Semiconductor / Christophe Lécuyer and David C. Brock. p. cm. Includes facsimiles of historical documents. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-262-01424-3 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Fairchild (Firm)—History. 2. Fairchild (Firm)—Archives. 3. Semiconductors—Design and construction—History. 4. Integrated circuits—Design and construction—History. I. Brock, David C. II. Title. TK7871.85.L4167 2010 338.7'621381528097309045—dc22 2009049182
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • Contents
  • Foreword by Jay Last vii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 Fairchild Semiconductor, Silicon Technology, and Military Computing 9
  • 2 Facsimiles and Interpretive Essays 45
  • Letter to Hayden Stone & Company, June 1957, Eugene and Rose Kleiner 45
  • Entries in Personal Notebook, 6, 11, and 18 November 1957, Jay Last 51
  • Entry in Patent Notebook, 1 December 1957, Jean Hoerni 59
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 9 December 1957, Jay Last 65
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 2 January 1958, Jay Last 69
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 10 February 1958, Jay Last 76
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 17 February 1958, Jay Last 80
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 24 February 1958, Jay Last 87
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 10 March 1958, Jay Last 95
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 17 April 1958, Jay Last 101
  • Internal Progress Report, 1 May 1958, Gordon Moore 105
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 7 May 1958, Jay Last 111
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 27 May 1958, Jay Last 114
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 30 June 1958, Jay Last 121
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 5 August 1958, Jay Last 123
  • Print Advertisement by Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation, 10 August 1958 127
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 25 August 1958, Jay Last 130
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 15 September 1958, Jay Last 135
  • Patent Disclosure, 14 January 1959, Jean Hoerni 141
  • Patent Disclosure, 20 January 1959, Jean Hoerni 146
  • Entry in Patent Notebook, 23 January 1959, Robert Noyce 150
  • Entry in Personal Notebook, 18 March 1959, Jay Last 162
  • “New Products Steal the Show,”
  • Leadwire
  • , September 1959 168
  • Internal Memorandum, 5 November 1959, Gordon Moore 171
  • Leadwire
  • , Volume 1, Number 5, November 1959 180
  • Device Drawing, 22 December 1959, Lionel Kattner 186
  • Entry in Patent Notebook, 23 February 1960, Jay Last 190
  • Entry in Patent Notebook, 26 May 1960, Lionel Kattner 193
  • Entries in Patent Notebook, 7 August, 31 August, and 13 September 1960, Isy Haas 199
  • Note on Micrologic Elements, 22 September 1960, Robert Norman 205
  • Lecture Notes, 30 September 1960, Jay Last 210
  • Company Profile,
  • Solid State Journal
  • , September-October 1960 216
  • Internal Progress Report, 1 October 1960, Jay Last 223
  • Internal Memorandum, 1 December 1961, Robert Graham 229
  • Conclusion 233
  • Appendix: Semiconductor Technology in the Late 1950s and the Early 1960s 241
  • Notes 265
  • Bibliography 295
  • Index 307


“Christophe Lecuyer and David Brock's Makers of the Microchip is...a welcome addition to this literature, filling an important gap in our understanding.”—Michael Riordan, Technology and Culture
“The book stands on its own as a solidly researched (not to mention beautifully produced) presentation of the most important years in the history of a landmark firm and its products.”—David L. Morton, The Futurist
Makers of the Microchip is no ordinary recounting of events...Because of the book's format, you'll breeze through it while learning the hows and whys of the company and its techology.”—Martin Rowe Test, Measurement World
“The book makes fascinating reading for those already familiar with the business or technology of microelectronics, and has a helpful glossary and explanation for general readers unfamiliar with the technicalities of semiconductor manufacturing...Highly recommended.”—Choice Reviews Online


“Anyone with an interest in the history of modern electronics—such as computing hardware—should know the history of semiconductors. With an astute selection of the key documents, together with technically and historically informed commentary, this book documents the critical first four years (1957 - 1961) of Fairchild Semiconductor, as the company's young engineers and scientists moved from research results to reliable practice in making silicon semiconductors.”
William Aspray, Bill and Lewis Suit Professor of Information Technologies, School of Information, University of Texas at Austin
Makers of the Microchip is a fascinating study of the early years of Fairchild Semiconductor, the firm that put the 'silicon' in Silicon Valley. Through the use of historical documents and erudite commentary, this book brilliantly weaves together the technical and business dimensions to provide insight into the logic that drove Fairchild and made it one of the most important entrepreneurial firms of the second half of the Twentieth Century.”
Martin Kenney, professor of Human and Community Development at University of California, Davis, and author of Understanding Silicon Valley
“The creation of the silicon integrated circuit was the pivotal event that launched the digital revolution. This book provides a detailed and objective examination of how it came about—a very valuable contribution.”
Andrew S. Grove, Former Chairman and CEO, Intel Corporation
“The microchip has changed the world like no other invention in history. This book is a close-up of the time and place where it was born. A fascinating story, told with the actual documents of those who lived it. I could not put it down.”
Carver A. Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, California Institute of Technology
“These original documents and historical commentaries present a unique window on the birth of the silicon age. A splendid way to understand innovation—peering over the shoulders of Jay Last, Gordon Moore, Jean Hoerni, Eugene Kleiner and other Fairchild Semiconductor insiders as they struggled to create silicon-based integrated circuits, a fundamental building block of the modern age.”
Thomas J. Misa, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota
“This thoughtfully conceived and nicely executed book offers a wealth of insights into the early history of the silicon revolution. Its newly disclosed documents and unusually perceptive commentary and analysis provide unprecedented glimpses into the inner workings of Fairchild Semiconductor and the remarkable entrepreneurial team that propelled this transforming epic in modern business and technological history.”
Steven W. Usselman, Georgia Institute of Technology


Winner, 2013 Ferguson Prize, awarded by the Society for the History of Technology