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Fairchild Semiconductor


In 1957, Fairchild Semiconductor became the third company in Silicon Valley. Of course it wasn't called Silicon Valley then, since the whole silicon industry was just starting to evolve. Fairchild was at the cutting edge, and created some of the innovative technologies that would push the entire field forward.

The company was founded by a group of disgruntled employees who left William Shockley's company, Shockley Semiconductor – the "traitorous eight," including Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore. The new company started out producing transistors, selling their first 100 to IBM at $150 apiece. Two years later, Fairchild researchers invented the integrated chip, which really put the company on the map. The company grew from twelve to twelve thousand employees, and was soon raking in some $130 million a year.

Led by Robert Noyce, the company introduced what has become a distinctly "Californian" style of management, complete with casual clothing and laid back atmosphere.

Fairchild was the seedbed for a great industrial complex, as over the years many of the founders left to form other companies. Dubbed the "Fairchildren," these defectors helped Silicon Valley grow into the semiconductor mecca it is today.

When Noyce and Gordon Moore left in 1968 to found Intel, Fairchild's glory days soon began to fade. It was sold to a succession of companies, neither of which turned it back into a money making operation. In 1997 Fairchild became an independent company again through the industry’s first leveraged buyout. The reborn corporation promptly set out to acquire other technology companies and develop new products, and in 1999 listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Fairchild Semiconductor is today the leading global supplier of high performance power products for electronic applications in the computing, communications, consumer, industrial and automotive industries. The company's 9,000 employees design, manufacture and market a variety of power, electronics, analog and optoelectronics products from its headquarters in South Portland, Maine, USA and numerous locations around the world.

-- Crystal Fire by Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson  
-- Tom Wolfe.  "The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce: How the Sun Rose on Silicon Valley."  Esquire, December 1983. pp 346-374 
-- Richard Hodgson. Describing the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor
--Fairchild Semiconductor's History of Innovation

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