Robert Noyce, the man behind Intel and the inventor of the integrated circuit can no doubt be accredited for the giant leap in technology that has changed the way we live our lives today.
Noyce was born on 12th December 1927 in Burlington, Iowa to Reverend Ralph Brewster Noyce and Harriet May Norton. Despite a spiritual background, Noyce was quite skeptical about religion. As a child he showed exceptional skills that were very advanced for his age. He was intelligent and had a strong desire to win. Noyce attended local schools where he exhibited an extraordinary flair for science and mathematics from the very beginning. A rather mystifying amount of confidence and a mischievous nature had those around him entranced. After graduating from Grinnell High school in 1945 he entered Grinnell College where he was literally an all-rounder. He was very active in various extra-curricular activities and also graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Physics with the highest honor ‘Phi Beta Kappa’ in 1949. His mind was so sharp that he was known as ‘Rapid Robert’ among his peers. Noyce then attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating in 1953.
He landed a job at ‘Philco Corporation’ as a research engineer in 1953 where he worked for the next three years. He then moved to Mountain View, California to work at Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. However due to some management troubles from the owner, Noyce left the company along with seven other employees. The ‘traitorous eight’ as they were called later, started a company which was called ‘Fairchild Semiconductor’, with Noyce as their head. The company was a success with several inventions to its name including the integrated circuits. Noyce proved to be a perfect leader, inspiring, competent, very passionate yet very relaxed. His style as a manager became very popular known as the ‘roll up your sleeves’ style. In 1968, Noyce left Fairchild along with coworker Gordon E. Moore and founded ‘Intel’. He invented many ground breaking products such as the 64-bit static random access memory chip (1969). Noyce’s invention that revolutionized the company was the first single chip microprocessor that was manufactured in 1971 by Intel.
Robert Noyce has 17 patents on semiconductor devices including the patent on metal interconnect schemes. Even after his retirement Noyce did not sit idle but instead ran SEMATECH in Austin, Texas. Noyce could not continue for long after this and died from a heart attack on 3rd June 1990.
Noyce has been honored with several awards. He got the ‘Stuart Ballantine Medal’ from the Franklin Institute in 1966 and the National Medal of Science in 1979. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1987 and the Charles Stark Draper Award in 1990 for his ‘integrated circuit’. Noyce was welcomed in the Business Hall of Fame in 1989 by George W. Bush. He also received a ‘Lifetime Achievement Medal in 1990 during the bicentennial celebration of the ‘Patent Act’.
The ‘Mayor of the Silicon Valley’ was indeed a remarkable man who altered the future of technology with his incredible developments.