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Makers of the Microchip: A Documentary History of Fairchild Semiconductor Hardcover – September 3, 2010

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Makers of the Microchip: A Documentary History of Fairchild Semiconductor + Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age (Sloan Technology Series) + The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (September 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262014246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262014243
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #551,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Christophe Lecuyer and David Brock's Makers of the Microchip is...a welcome addition to this literature, filling an important gap in our understanding." -- Michael Riordan, Technology and Culture

"The book stands on its own as a solidly researched(not to mention beautifully produced) presentation of the most important years in the history of a landmark firm and its products." -- David L. Morton, The Futurist

"Anyone with an interest in the history of modern electronics -- such as computing hardware -- should know the history of semiconductors. With an astute selection of the key documents, together with technically and historically informed commentary, this book documents the critical first four years (1957 - 1961) of Fairchild Semiconductor, as the company's young engineers and scientists moved from research results to reliable practice in making silicon semiconductors." -- William Aspray, Bill and Lewis Suit Professor of Information Technologies, School of Information, University of Texas at Austin

"Makers of the Microchip is a fascinating study of the early years of Fairchild Semiconductor, the firm that put the 'silicon' in Silicon Valley. Through the use of historical documents and erudite commentary, this book brilliantly weaves together the technical and business dimensions to provide insight into the logic that drove Fairchild and made it one of the most important entrepreneurial firms of the second half of the Twentieth Century." -- Martin Kenney, professor of Human and Community Development at University of California, Davis, and author of Understanding Silicon Valley

"Makers of the Microchip is no ordinary recounting of events...Because of the book's format, you'll breeze through it while learning the hows and whys of the company and its techology." -- Martin Rowe Test, Measurement World

"The book makes fascinating reading for those already familiar with the business or technology of microelectronics, and has a helpful glossary and explanation for general readers unfamiliar with the technicalities of semiconductor manufacturing...Highly recommended." -- Choice Reviews Online

"The creation of the silicon integrated circuit was the pivotal event that launched the digital revolution. This book provides a detailed and objective examination of how it came about -- a very valuable contribution." -- Andrew S. Grove, Former Chairman and CEO, Intel Corporation

"The microchip has changed the world like no other invention in history. This book is a close-up of the time and place where it was born. A fascinating story, told with the actual documents of those who lived it. I could not put it down." -- Carver A. Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, California Institute of Technology

"These original documents and historical commentaries present a unique window on the birth of the silicon age. A splendid way to understand innovation -- peering over the shoulders of Jay Last, Gordon Moore, Jean Hoerni, Eugene Kleiner and other Fairchild Semiconductor insiders as they struggled to create silicon-based integrated circuits, a fundamental building block of the modern age." -- Thomas J. Misa, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota

"This thoughtfully conceived and nicely executed book offers a wealth of insights into the early history of the silicon revolution. Its newly disclosed documents and unusually perceptive commentary and analysis provide unprecedented glimpses into the inner workings of Fairchild Semiconductor and the remarkable entrepreneurial team that propelled this transforming epic in modern business and technological history." -- Steven W. Usselman, Georgia Institute of Technology

About the Author

Christophe Lécuyer is Professor of the History of Science and Technology at Université Pierre et Marie Curie and the author of Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970 (MIT Press, 2005).

David C. Brock is Senior Research Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation's Center for Contemporary History and the editor of Understanding Moore's Law: Four Decades of Innovation.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tech Historian on September 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bravo. A well written, well researched book that fills in the missing gaps in early Fairchild history. Using the original lab notebook of Jay Last one of the founders of Fairchild, this book sketches out the early technical decisions that the Fairchild founders made in their first three years. It traces the evolution of first silicon mesa transistors, to a race between Gordon Moore and Jean Hoerni in making the first PNP and NPN transistors. Hoerni's invention of the planar transistor was an outgrowth of that effort. Once the planar process was in hand it was clear that that someone was going to interconnect those transistors.

Lots of surprises and insights in this book. The biggest one for me was the vociferous objection to the integrated circuit product line by Fairchild's VP of Sales. In hindsight it makes sense, but I never would have guessed it.

Minor quibbles on some editing and a awkwardly constructed introduction.

Along with Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley and The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley, this book makes a trilogy about the key players in the semiconductor industry.

Essential reading to anyone interested in the technical history of Silicon Valley.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Vadim Vaynerman on March 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a tremendous book to read as an engineer. Besides being a decent history of Fairchild and their early work, the first-person documents, status reports, and patent notebooks integrate very well with the narrative. It is surprising how little has changed in the way engineers approach their work since then... The great thing as an eE in reading this book is that occasionally one will find gems - like a schematic for a full adder - casually tossed in a notebook page - and realize that while this is the same thing you saw in freshman digital logic class, this was also the first time anyone ever did this!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a high quality book that would be useful to a researcher, I wish it had gone into greater detail, with pictures of the equipment, about some of the procedures used to manufacture microchips.
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