TitleSwiss Engineers in Early Silicon Valley I knew
|Bauer, Luc-Olivier, Author|
Computer History Museum
Sherman Oaks, CA
DescriptionSwiss Engineers in Early Silicon Valley I knew: Lessons for Strategic Management of a Fast New Growing Technology Domain
Following a suggestion of Professor Patrick Aebischer, ex-President of the EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland, one of the two major technical institutes in Switzerland and my alma mater, the paper retraces the exhilarating days of young Swiss engineers in Silicon Valley, the most illustrious being Jean A. Hoerni, one Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation's eight founders. I happened to start my technology processing career, in 1968, in a hot field: ion implantation doping at the Hughes Research Lab Facility in Newport Beach, California. Hired away from Hughes because of these in-demand skills, I plunged into Silicon Valley in 1972 at Intersil, a company started by Jean A. Hoerni, and was fortunate enough to observe and participate in the explosive growth of those early years.
Besides going though some of the early process technology developments, the paper attempts to describe the evolution of the business models then, what made some of the companies hugely successful and others stagnate or fail. I then try to derive investment lessons for my current profession of venture capitalist, when confronted with explosive growth in a new high technology field. Finally, I attempt to describe the extraordinary work atmosphere between co-workers in semiconductor companies of the time, be they hourly operators, production supervisors, engineers or fab managers -- which made possible the success of many of these early semiconductor companies.