Often nicknamed “the Mayor of Silicon Valley”, Robert Norton Noyce was born on this day December 12, in 1927, He co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and Intel in 1968, and is also credited (along with Jack Kilby) with the invention of the integrated circuit or microchip which fueled the personal computer revolution and gave Silicon Valley its name. He was also a mentor and father-figure to an entire generation of entrepreneurs.
Born in Burlington, Iowa, He was the third of four sons born to Rev. Ralph Brewster Noyce. His father was a 1915 graduate of Doane College, a 1920 graduate of Oberlin College, and a 1923 graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary. The Reverend Noyce was a Congregational clergyman and the associate superintendent of the Iowa Conference of Congregational Churches in the 1930s and 1940s. His mother, Harriet May Norton, a 1921 graduate of Oberlin College, was the daughter of the Rev. Milton J. Norton, a Congregational clergyman, and Louise Hill. She has been described as an intelligent woman with a commanding will.
From an early age, Noyce was very competitive and even at the age of five, he was offended by the notion of intentionally losing at anything. “That’s not the game,” he sulked to his mother. “If you’re going to play, play to win!” Noyce showed an aptitude for machinery from an early age and In the summer of 1940, when he was 12, he built a boy-sized aircraft with his brother, and Later he also built a radio from scratch and motorized his sled by welding a propeller and an engine from an old washing machine to the back of it
He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953, and took his first job as a research engineer at the Philco Corporation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He left there in 1956 and went to work at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in Mountain View, California, where He joined William Shockley but left in 1957 after having issues with respect to the quality of its management, and co-founded the influential Fairchild Semiconductor corporation. in 1968 Noyce and Gordon E. Moore left Fairchild Semiconductors, and founded Intel. Arthur Rock, the chairman of Intel’s board and a major investor in the company said that for Intel to succeed, Intel needed Noyce, Moore and Andrew Grove. And it needed them in that order. Noyce: the visionary, born to inspire; Moore: the virtuoso of technology; and Grove: the technologist turned management scientist. The relaxed culture that Noyce brought to Intel was a carry-over from his style at Fairchild Semiconductor. He treated employees as family, rewarding and encouraging team work. His follow-your-bliss management style set the tone for many Valley success stories. Noyce’s management style could be called a “roll up your sleeves” style. He shunned fancy corporate cars, reserved parking spaces, private jets, offices, and furnishings in favor of a less-structured, relaxed working environment in which everyone contributed and no one benefited from lavish perquisites. By declining the usual executive perks he stood as a model for future generations of Intel CEOs. At Intel, he oversaw Ted Hoff’s invention of the microprocessor, which was his second revolution.
Noyce was also involved in the development of the “Semiconductor Device and Lead Structure”, type of integrated circuit. This independent effort was recorded only a few months after the key findings of inventor Jack Kilby. For his co-invention of the integrated circuit and its world-transforming impact, three presidents of the United States honored him. Noyce was a holder of many honours and awards. President Ronald Reagan awarded him the National Medal of Technology in 1987. Two years later, he was inducted into the U.S. Business Hall of Fame. President George H. W. Bush presented the award, sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering,in a black tie ceremony held at the State Department. In 1990 Noyce – along with, among others, Jack Kilby and transistor inventor John Bardeen – received a “Lifetime Achievement Medal” during the bicentennial celebration of the Patent Act. Noyce also received the Franklin Institute’s Stuart Ballantine Medal in 1966. He was awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor in 1978 “for his contributions to the silicon integrated circuit, a cornerstone of modern electronics.” In 1979, he was awarded the National Medal of Science. Noyce was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1980 and in 1989 The National Academy of Engineering awarded him the Charles Stark Draper Prize. The science building at his alma mater, Grinnell College, is named after him.The Noyce Foundation was founded in 1991 by his family. The foundation is dedicated to improving public education in mathematics and science in grades K-12.