at the creation
companies have the cachet of the original Fairchild Semiconductor operation.
It was founded in 1957 by a group of disaffected employees from Shockley
Semiconductor Labs, who William Shockley later called the "Treacherous
Eight." Fairchild pioneered
chip manufacturing in what was to become Silicon Valley. Many core semiconductor
technologies still used today, such as the planar process, were initiated
and developed at the company. The long list of important chipmaking businesses
with Fairchild roots includes Intel, National Semiconductor, AMD, and
COURTESY OF WALKER RESEARCH ASSOCIATES/PANALTA
new documentary DVD, The Fairchild Chronicles, tells the story
of the mother company through the words of those who worked there. The
nearly three-hour film was coproduced and directed by Rob Walker, a former
Fairchild employee, cofounder of LSI, and creator of Stanford University's
Silicon Genesis project. Drawing on interviews in the project archives,
the participants detail the early years, the company's rise to prominence,
the difficulties encountered in the 1970s, the disastrous Schlumberger
ownership period, and its eventual sale to National in 1986. Industry
luminaries such as Gordon Moore (one of the original eight, who went on
to cofound Intel with Robert Noyce and others in 1967), Charlie Sporck
(who joined the company from GE as its first manufacturing director),
and Jerry Sanders (who began at Fairchild in the early 1960s as a boy-wonder
salesman) reminisce about their experiences and colleagues during the
first few decades of the semiconductor industry.
telling anecdote underscores the ingenuity of the original Fairchild team.
Moore recalls how Noyce scrounged to put together the original lithography
system. "He went to San Francisco to a large camera store and dug
through their supply of. . .16-mm movie camera lenses and picked out the
three that were best matched in so far as focal length was concerned.
And those were the optics in the step-and-repeat cameras we built to make
the first transistor structures."
account is but one of many fascinating stories in this invaluable historical
document. The DVD is available for $39.95 at www.thefairchildchronicles.com.
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© 2007 Tom Cheyney
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