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Fairchild Semiconductor

Fairchild Semiconductor was founded by eight employees that left Shockley Labs together, they became known as the Traitorous Eight. They were Julius Blank, Victor Grinich, Jean Hoerni, Eugene Kleiner, Jay Last, Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce, and Sheldon Roberts.

The group used $3,500 of their own money to develop a method of mass-producing silicon transistors at a time when germanium was still the most common material for semiconductor use. After developing this method, they turned to Sherman Fairchild for funding; Fairchild Camera and Instrument was an Eastern U.S. company with considerable military contracts. Fairchild Semiconductor started as a division of the parent company.

Robert Noyce and Fairchild Semiconductor went on to develop the integrated circuit and as a company developed great improvements in low-cost manufacturing leading Fairchild to the dominant semiconductor manufacturer in the 1960’s.

However, internal trouble at Fairchild began to surface with a drop in earnings in 1967. Also, the semiconductor division was managed by executives from New York, who visited California once a year, even though the semiconductor division earned most of the profits. Fairchild faced increasing competition from newer start-ups, both in product and talent; National Semiconductor had hired away several key Fairchild employees.

The internal management conflicts led to more key engineers to leave to newer start-ups; with Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, the last founders to leave Fairchild, starting Intel in 1968.

After the brain drain of the late 1960’s and subsequent challenges from competitors, the company had a rough period of being parceled up and sold off to various companies, the majority to National Semiconductor. In 1997, the Fairchild name and division was spun out of National Semiconductor and became an independent operating company once again.

The Fairchild Semiconductor company is still going, now at their new HQ in San Jose, CA.

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