Robert Noyce is co-inventor of the integrated circuit and co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel Corporation. Intel makes Pentium processors. The computer you are on right now might use a Pentium.

Noyce was born Dec. 12, 1927 in Burlington, Iowa. He was the son of a Baptist minister and loved to tinker with mechanical things. Noyce and his friends liked to raid the town dump and find things to take apart and see how they worked. He even took apart an old Ford Model T and put it back together. He graduated from Grinnell College in 1949 and received his Ph.D in Physical electronics from MIT in 1953. From 1953 to 1956 he worked for Philco Radio Co. as a research engineer in the transistor division. Then in 1956 he joined a group of other scientists that William Shockley was rounding up to work at his new facility, Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, in Mountain View, California. Noyce had been exposed to the newly invented transistor while attending Grinnell and was very interested in this new technology. Shockley's reputation was quite a draw since he was co-inventor of the transistor and was intent on furthering its development. But Shockley was unyielding fixed to germanium-based technology while everyone else was switching to silicon based components. Shockley was difficult to work for in other ways as well and this led Noyce and seven others including Gordon Moore, to leave in 1957 and form Fairchild Semiconductor.

At the time, electrical engineers were faced with a problem in circuit design which was call the tyranny of numbers. The increasing number of components required in evermore complex circuits also increased the number of connections and the size of the device. The solution turned out to be a monolithic circuit, where all the components could be combined on a single chip or integrated circuit. Jack S. Kilby made the first integrated circuit at Texas Instruments but he used germanium and had thin gold wire connections. Noyce used the planar process which was developed by Jean Hoerni also of Fairchild. The planar process allowed the circuit to be completely self contained within layers of silicon with no protruding wires. It was more conducive to mass production and as the technology was refined, more components could be reduced in size and placed in a smaller area. The integrated circuits were more expensive than their transistor component counterparts at first but the tyranny of numbers problem was history.

In 1968 Noyce along with Gordon Moore left Fairchild after a change in management also brought a change in they direction the were going. They formed their own company and called it Intel, short for Integrated Electronics. At Intel they began to develope semiconductor memories and in 1970 came out with the first random access memory computer chip, RAM for short. Soon they were able to put the all of the functions of a computer on one chip producing the first microprocesor. Noyce left the management of Intel in 1978 to pursue political aspects of the computer industry. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1983. He had been issued 16 patents involved with semiconductor developement. He died of a heart attack June 3, 1990 at the age of 62 in Austin, Texas where he resided.

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