Technical Terms and Definitions

Robert Noyce - People

Robert N. Noyce, cofounder of Intel Corporation, was one of the pioneers of semiconductor development.

Born in Iowa, he received a B.A. from Grinnell College (Iowa) in 1949 and a Ph.D. in physical electronics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953. He did research at Philco Corporation until 1956, when he joined Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, to work on transistor technology.

In 1957 Noyce cofounded the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation in Mountain View, California. He was research director until early 1959 when he became vice president and general manager. As research director of Fairchild Semiconductor, he was responsible for initial development of the firm's silicon mesa and planar transistor product lines. In July 1968 he cofounded Intel Corp. with Gordon E. Moore, who had also been a cofounder of Fairchild Semiconductor and a member of the Shockley laboratory staff. Noyce served as president of Intel until 1975 and chairman of the board from 1975 to 1979.

Noyce held 16 patents for semiconductor devices, methods, and structures. The development of the silicon microchip has been the most important of his accomplishments because the creation of the microprocessor made possible significant reductions in the cost of computing, along with dramatic advances in the miniaturization of electronics and increases in reliability of performance. No single technological development within the data processing/electronics community has been as significant as the chip. Some historians consider the chip to be one of the greatest achievements of twentieth-century technology, making the present pervasiveness of computing possible and affordable in the industrialized world.