Just over forty years ago in the dusty little orchard community of Santa Clara valley, eight guys named Moore, Noyce, Kleiner, Roberts, Hoerni, Last, Blank and Grinich were branded as traitors.
The team left the “mad genius” that originally brought the eclectic group of physicists and chemists together. Little did this group of eight defectors know, but they would be the forefathers of the Digital Age.
The “Fairchild Eight” built the Silicon Valley from the ground up with a little invention that remains at the heart of every electronic device in our world today, the integrated circuit.
Today there are almost as many transistors produced in the world market as there are printed characters in all the newspapers, books, magazines and computer pages combined.
Not only did they reshape the modern world but they also reinvented the American Dream: technology for the greater good, stock options and venture capital.
Noyce & Moore are most recognizable as the founders of Intel but the company was also shaping a new market and one of the most influential forces in the Venture Capital world, Eugene Kleiner of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield fame.
Had it not been for William Shockley and the “perfect storm” he created by bringing this group of young scientists together, the world would be a very different place.
Even though Shockley ended his career under a black cloud for his political and social views, we have him to thank for bringing this group together behind a common vision. And even though he did not have the foresight to see the potential of silicon which lead to the infamous exodus of his crack team of eight, his initial vision provided the cadre for countless companies and industries.
While civil unrest caused by the Vietnam War got the headlines in the 60’s, eight industrious young men started a revolution that would redefine the modern world. Their vision of the future and tenacity to figure out the science to make their vision a reality is the stuff of legend.
Celebrating the Fourth of July in my home country for the first time in 15 years caused me to reflect on another group of “traitors” named Washington, Jefferson and Adams.
So, here’s to the men and women who have done what is considered wrong in order to do what they know is right.
What they know is right, regardless of the consequences!