Artifact Details


The Legacy of Fairchild Semiconductor, lecture by Wilfred Corrigan et al.

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Founded in September 1957 in Palo Alto, California by eight young engineers and scientists from Shockley Semiconductor Laboratories, Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation pioneered new products and technologies together with a youthful enthusiasm and manufacturing and marketing techniques that reshaped the semiconductor industry. The planar process developed in early 1959 revolutionized the production of semiconductor devices and continues to enable the manufacture of billion transistor microprocessor and memory chips today. Fairchild was the first manufacturer to introduce high-frequency silicon transistors and practical monolithic integrated circuits to the market. At the peak of its influence in the mid-1960s, as a division of Fairchild Camera & Instrument Corporation, the company was one of the world's largest producers of silicon transistors and controlled over 30 percent of the market for ICs. Fairchild's extraordinary success stimulated an entrepreneurial fervor that gave birth to the phenomenon of Silicon Valley. Including systems and software businesses, the total number of companies in the Bay Area and beyond with Fairchild roots today lies in the thousands.

This lecture was presented during a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the company held at Stanford University and the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California on October 4, 5, and 6, 2007. Introduced by Staff Director of the Semiconductor Special Interest Group of the Museum and Fairchild Alumnus David Laws, the speakers are all Fairchild alumni who went on to make significant contributions to the semiconductor industry. They were asked to explore the lasting impact of Fairchild Semiconductor on Silicon Valley and the world.

Wilfred Corrigan earned a BSc in Chemical Engineering from the Imperial College of Science, London, England. After early work at Transitron and Motorola, Corrigan joined Fairchild Semiconductor in 1968. He served as president and chief executive officer of Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation from 1974 until 1979. In 1981 he co-founded ASIC pioneer LSI Logic Corporation where he served as president, CEO, and chairman until 2005.

Gordon Moore was born and spent his childhood near San Francisco, California. He earned a PhD in Chemistry and Physics from the California Institute of Technology. He was one of the eight co-founders of Fairchild in 1957. As head of R&D, in 1965 he published an observation on the increase of integrated circuit complexity with time, now known as "Moore's Law" that emerged as one of the driving principles of the semiconductor industry. In 1968 Moore co-founded Intel Corporation with Robert Noyce, became president and CEO in 1975 and held that post until elected chairman and CEO in 1979. He remained CEO until 1987 and was named chairman emeritus in 1997.

W. J. (Jerry) Sanders III was born in Chicago. He earned a BS in electrical engineering from Illinois State University and worked at Douglas Aircraft and Motorola before joining Fairchild as a salesman in 1961. He rose to group director of worldwide sales and marketing before leaving to co-found Advanced Micro Devices in 1969. Sanders served as president, CEO. and Chairman of AMD until 2004.

Moderator Floyd Kvamme was an early Fairchild marketing manager, vice president of marketing at National Semiconductor, and executive vice president of Sales and Marketing for Apple Computer. He is a partner emeritus at the venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and co-chair of the president's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.




Corrigan, Wilfred J.; Kvamme, Floyd; Moore, Gordon E.; Sanders, W.J. (Jerry) III


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA, US





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Related Records

102706708 The Legacy of Fairchild Semiconductor