Christophe Lécuyer

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).

  • Makers of the Microchip

    Makers of the Microchip

    A Documentary History of Fairchild Semiconductor

    Christophe Lécuyer and David C. Brock

    The first years of the company that developed the microchip and created the model for a successful Silicon Valley start-up.

    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.

    • Hardcover $28.95 £23.00
  • Making Silicon Valley

    Making Silicon Valley

    Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970

    Christophe Lécuyer

    In Making Silicon Valley, Christophe Lécuyer shows that the explosive growth of the personal computer industry in Silicon Valley was the culmination of decades of growth and innovation in the San Francisco-area electronics industry. Using the tools of science and technology studies, he explores the formation of Silicon Valley as an industrial district, from its beginnings as the home of a few radio enterprises that operated in the shadow of RCA and other East Coast firms through its establishment as a center of the electronics industry and a leading producer of power grid tubes, microwave tubes, and semiconductors. He traces the emergence of the innovative practices that made this growth possible by following key groups of engineers and entrepreneurs. He examines the forces outside Silicon Valley that shaped the industry—in particular the effect of military patronage and procurement on the growth of the industry and on the development of technologies—and considers the influence of Stanford University and other local institutions of higher learning.

    Lécuyer argues that Silicon Valley's emergence and its growth were made possible by the development of unique competencies in manufacturing, in product engineering, and in management. Entrepreneurs learned to integrate invention, design, manufacturing, and sales logistics, and they developed incentives to attract and retain a skilled and motivated workforce. The largest Silicon Valley firms—including Eitel-McCullough (Eimac), Litton Industries, Varian Associates, Fairchild Semiconductor, and Intel—dominated the American markets for advanced tubes and semiconductors and, because of their innovations in manufacturing, design, and management, served as models and incubators for other electronics ventures in the area.

    • Hardcover $9.75 £6.95
    • Paperback $34.00 £27.00


  • Becoming MIT

    Becoming MIT

    Moments of Decision

    David Kaiser

    The evolution of MIT, as seen in a series of crucial decisions over the years.

    How did MIT become MIT? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology marks the 150th anniversary of its founding in 2011. Over the years, MIT has lived by its motto, “Mens et Manus” (“Mind and Hand”), dedicating itself to the pursuit of knowledge and its application to real-world problems. MIT has produced leading scholars in fields ranging from aeronautics to economics, invented entire academic disciplines, and transformed ideas into market-ready devices. This book examines a series of turning points, crucial decisions that helped define MIT. Many of these issues have relevance today: the moral implications of defense contracts, the optimal balance between government funding and private investment, and the right combination of basic science, engineering, and humanistic scholarship in the curriculum.

    Chapters describe the educational vison and fund-raising acumen of founder William Barton Rogers (MIT was among the earliest recipients of land grant funding); MIT's relationship with Harvard—its rival, doppelgänger, and, for a brief moment, degree-conferring partner; the battle between pure science and industrial sponsorship in the early twentieth century; MIT's rapid expansion during World War II because of defense work and military training courses; the conflict between Cold War gadgetry and the humanities; protests over defense contracts at the height of the Vietnam War; the uproar in the local community over the perceived riskiness of recombinant DNA research; and the measures taken to reverse years of institutionalized discrimination against women scientists.

    • Hardcover $25.95 £17.95
    • Paperback $20.95 £16.99