The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley

Leslie Berlin, Author . Oxford Univ. $30 (402p) ISBN 978-0-19-516343-8

By the high-tech boom of the 1990s, Intel CEO Andy Grove had become the man most commonly associated with the industry's leading manufacturer of microprocessors. But the real credit for creating Intel, Berlin argues, belongs to Noyce (1927–1990), who cofounded the company with Gordon Moore in 1968—a little more than a decade after the two men took part in the creation of another early Silicon Valley fixture, Fairchild Semiconductor. Berlin, a science historian at Stanford, provides a well-rounded biography that easily establishes Noyce's scientific credentials—in addition to holding the patent on the integrated circuit, he also just missed out on taking credit for two Nobel-worthy discoveries—as well as his bumpy path through the corporate world, which began when he was recruited by seven colleagues to break away from the research lab where they were employed to found Fairchild. Interviews with Noyce's contemporaries and family illuminate the less happy aspects of his personal life. With the bloom off the Internet economy, it may prove harder to generate interest in the life of a technology executive, but that shouldn't diminish Berlin's excellent work here. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/23/2005
Release date: 06/01/2005
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