Mar 17, 2016 | By:

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Long before the San Francisco Bay Area was christened “Silicon Valley,” a group of young engineers started a semiconductor company that would change the technology industry forever.

William Shockley, Nobel-Prize winner and physicist, initially recruited the group (Robert Noyce, Julius Blank, Victor Grinich, Jean Hoerni, Eugene Kleiner, Jay Last, Gordon Moore and Sheldon Roberts) to work for him, but his management skills didn’t measure up to the standards of the eight. Fed up, the group — nicknamed the “Traitorous Eight” — left Shockley’s lab to work under businessman and inventor, Sherman Fairchild.

Soon after Fairchild Semiconductor’s inception in 1957, the company became one of the most influential thought leaders in the industry. Not only was Fairchild’s success a result of its groundbreaking technology, but it stemmed from the group’s progressive, non-hierarchal company culture that Silicon Valley is known for today.

After Fairchild was well established, the Traitorous Eight found themselves hungry to relive this hard and fast success. Inspired to pursue new passions, the eight split up in the 1960s to create or invest in dozens of spin-off companies known as the “Fairchildren.”

Jay Last, Sheldon Roberts and Jean Hoerni founded Amelco, now known as Teledyne, in 1961. Hoerni then went on to create Union Carbide Electronics in 1964, and then Intersil in 1967.

In 1968, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore left Fairchild to start a new semiconductor company ­­— Intel Corporation.

A year after Noyce and Moore founded Intel, Fairchild marketing director Jerry Sanders started Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) with seven other Fairchild engineers.

After that, Eugene Kleiner and Hewlett-Packard executive Thomas Perkins started the legendary venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. KPCB invested in more than 500 startup ventures, including AOL,, Compaq, Netscape and Google.

Julius Blank, the last founder to leave Fairchild, became a consultant to new startup companies in 1969. In 1978, he co-founded Xicor, a company known for its NOVRAM computer chip, which was then acquired by Hoerni’s Intersil Corp. in 2004 for $529 million.

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Thanks to this contagious entrepreneurial mindset, more than 2,000 companies can be traced back to Fairchild’s alumni. With companies such as Instagram, Nest and even YouTube having ties to Fairchild, it’s no secret that Fairchild sparked the digital revolution.

We’re highlighting Fairchild’s storied past with our “History of Innovation” theme at APEC 2016, the industry’s leading power electronics conference. You’ll be able to see demonstrations of our latest innovations at the show and can find more information at




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