Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

How The "Traitorous Eight" Created Silicon Valley...

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 11, 2011

Hewlett-Packard lovingly maintains the garage of a modest family home on a leafy street in Palo Alto because it's the birthplace of itself, and it's also where Silicon Valley was born.

Hewlett-Packard's founders worked in the 12 by 18 foot garage in 1938, before moving out to an office building in 1940.

It was a good while before what we call Silicon Valley came into being. The spark wasn't Hewlett-Packard but rather Fairchild Semiconductor, which was formed when eight top executives left Shockley Semiconductor in 1957.

Therese Poletti, columnist for MarketWatch, looks back at this seminal event:

When eight daring men decided in 1957 to leave their jobs en masse at Shockley Semiconductor and start their own company, there wasn't really a venture-capital industry or many start-up precedents to be found in California's Santa Clara Valley.

...

It is estimated by some that more than 400 companies can trace their roots to those "Fairchild Eight" as they are also called, the most famous being Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, who left to co-found Intel Corp. in 1968.

Other famous "Fairchildren" include Jerry Sanders, a sales star at Fairchild, who left with a group of engineers to co-found Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in 1969.

Four of the original eight Fairchild co-founders are still living.

It's an interesting read. Ms Poletti spoke with Gordon Moore and there's lots of great information about William Shockley, (a Noble prize winner) and how his awful management style alienated his top engineers, which led to their departure en masse--hence the "traitors" tag.

If it wasn't for Mr Shockley's terrible management skills, the history of Silicon Valley might be a lot different today.

How 8 Fairchild alums sparked Silicon Valley Therese Poletti's Tech Tales


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