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Inside Intel: Andrew Grove and the Rise of the World's Most Powerful ChipCompany Hardcover – October 1, 1997
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Eighty percent of today's desktop computers operate on chips produced by Intel Corporation, which is now a more profitable company than the top 10 PC makers combined. But just how did the company, under CEO Andrew Grove, become so powerful? And what does its position mean to those who depend upon it? By combining public records, private documents, and interviews with more than 100 of those who know the company best, Financial Times columnist Tim Jackson has produced the fascinating, definitive story: Inside Intel: Andy Grove and the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Chip Company.
From Library Journal
Hard-driven CEO and chairman Grove has dominated Intel since shortly after its founding in 1968. He focused the company on setting goals and achieving results. As Jackson, a columnist for the Financial Times, points out in his excellent book, Grove was also largely responsible for Intel's arrogance toward customers, aggression toward competitors, and pettiness toward employees. Intel's success came from being on the cutting edge of semiconductor technology with innovative products like the DRAM, EPROM, and microprocessor. Nevertheless, lack of foresight lost Intel its memory-chip business, and only a last-minute marketing effort saved its dominant position in microprocessors. The author draws on interviews as well as published and unpublished sources to produce this well-written and -documented business and technical history. Highly recommended for all libraries as a window into one of the world's most important companies and its methods.?Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ., Erie, Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
The balance between the human and technological aspects is good.
Its a good book if you want to learn about the history of Intel and it's well written.
But on to the big theme, which seems to be about how Andy Grove was treated in the book. A tyrant, a visionary, what?
I met Andy several times, but only several, in my 12 years at Intel. I actually dealt with Gordon Moore many more times. This partly has to do with the particular projects I worked on.
I have to say, during my years at Intel, 1974-86, I didn't feel intimidated by Andy (or Gordon, etc.). I didn't feel that "one wrong opinion" would lead to my dismissal. Having said this, there was always an element in my thinking, and that of all of my friends, that "this thing could end in a few years." Whether by layoffs affecting one personally, or the absorption of the company into some other company, it could end. So many other companies had fallen by the wayside that it just didn't reasonable to think of "the Intel of 30 years from now." Most of my friends didn't seem to think about "retiring at Intel" (except in the stock option sense!). Frankly, it still surprises me that that relatively small company I joined in 1974 is so dominant today.
In a nutshell, in the 1970s I don't think many of us imagined the company surviving for 10 more years, let alone 30 or more years longer. I guess we just didn't have the imagination. (At least I didn't.) Nobody I knew then gave opinions about Intel in the year 2000 or 2010. (Yeah, there are always some "futurists" writing scenarios for a future. Perhaps someone wrote about how Intel would have its chips in every flying machine, or its chips in the lunar colonies.)
To be sure, Andy had some "martinet" tendencies: the sign-in late sheet, the "Mr. Clean" inspections of offices and production areas. Part of this, I gather from ex-Fairchild employees at Intel, was that Andy had seen some incredibly sloppy practices at Fairchild and was reacting to this. But, my guess is that he's just one of those types that gets up at 5 am and can't understand why an engineer who had worked till 11 pm the night before might not be in at 8 am the next morning.
(And something that outsiders seem to misunderstand, the "sign in late sheet" generally had no real implications. Nobody was punished for signing-in late too many times, to my knowledge. It was generally just a kind of tweak to slow down the slippery slope of engineers coming in later and later. Realize that for fab operators, or hourlies, coming in late create very real problems.)
Andy had a bunch of these ideas about management.
But calling him a monster of any sort, as some of the book reviews here seem to suggest, is just nonsensical.
On to something else glaringly obvious about Tim Jackson's book: notice how no employees of Intel at the time the book was written were interviewed?
Intel (apparently) chose not to cooperate with Tim Jackson in the writing of this book. I know of one very important technologist--crucial to Intel's survival in the formative 1968-73 period who had planned to cooperate with Jackson but who, Jackson told me, was advised by Intel not to cooperate. And so his story was only lightly alluded to, and his impact is under-reported. A pity, as his story ought to be part of the Intel story. I can think offhand of a dozen others who deserve at least as much coverage as I myself go, for instance. The difference is that I willingly spent several hours with Tim Jackson giving my story, answering questions, explaining some technology details, and answering later questions in e-mail.
A detailed book about Intel has not yet been written. Bob Noyce had a couple of good articles done about him (I recall one by Tom Wolfe, the author, in Fortune or Forbes or some such). Gordon Moore and Andy Grove and others have had feature articles done on them. But no single book has really covered the story of Intel. And it's an important story, especially given that Intel is now the largest semiconductor company in the world. (I believe it is still larger than either Samsung or TSMC, though they are certainly doing well.)
A shame, as there as has been no real history of Intel except Jackson's book. And his book missed a lot of key stories because key Intel employees were not involved. (There are a couple of Andy Grove's books, and one by Albert Yu, and maybe one other. But these are generally about small aspects of Intel, as with "High Output Management," a book I read but that seemed to have little relation to my experience at the company.)
Fifteen years after Tim Jackson's book, with so many of the early employees now retired from Intel, I hope some journalist does another history. Intel may not be the powerhouse to the economy that it once was (not because chips are not important, but because in a lot of ways the chip industry has become like the steel or auto industry), but its story is at least as compelling as that of Apple.
And Apple has had, what, a dozen books written about it?
I'm still hoping that Gordon Moore, Andy Grove, Les Vadasz, Craig Barrett, Ed Gelbach or some of the dozen or others at the heart of the company will write a book on Intel. Or at least cooperate with an outside author. But no signs that I have seen so far.
Which is too bad. The Intel story really needs to be told.
--Tim May, Intel employee from 1974 to 1986
Intel was founded by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore. It came to life when 'big iron' dominated computers, and their memory was comprised of thousands of handmade iron cores, wrapped in thin wire. Intel's first product, in 1969, was a 64-bit static random-access memory, followed in 1971 by the first commercially available microprocessor (4004) in 1971. For the first few years, Intel's business was dominated by DRAM chips, but Japanese competition (more automation, chip manufacturers made their own equipment, helped create better 'preventative' quality - 6X, lower costs) quickly reduced their profitability by 1983. Soon afterward, that competition, combined with the growing success of IBM's PC (used an Intel microprocessor), led Intel to leave memory production for microprocessors.
Early engineers were found by Noyce asking university EE departments for their best research scientists. Those picked, especially from other semiconductor firms, had to accept an offer of the same (or less) salary and possible demotion, in return for rolling stock-options (spread over 3 years).
Another significant early Intel step was ending the practice of 'second sourcing' - it had used AMD for the 386 chip. This was stopped, even though Intel lost the subsequent lawsuit.
Every engineer had considerable authority (up to $100K?) to buy equipment.
Orange Crush: Intel's 8080 8-bit microprocessor launched May, 1974 and became hugely successful - Gates wrote Basic for it; its preceding 4004 and 8008 were not commercial successes. Then came Intel's 16-bit 8086. Motorola's 68000 (32-bit) was #1 in sales, Zilog's Z8000 #2, and Intel's 8086 #3.
The key semiconductor market share is the one maintained when the market is mature. To accomplish that, a firm must convince sufficient numbers of customers to 'design in' (integrate) your chip into their products. Intel's task force established a very high goal - 2,000 'design wins' by the end of 1980, based on every salesman getting one win/month; it was the way to 'crush the competition.'
It was decided to divide customers into three groups - hardware-oriented, software-oriented firms wanting to use Intel software, and software-oriented companies wanting to write their own software. Intel's problem lay within the third group. Everyone on the task force agreed that Motorola and Zilog had better devices - Intel's advantages were being a technology leader, better performance at the system level, and Motorola's difficulty making its chips work in customer products.
An effort was launched to get customers to write about their experiences using the 8086 - more than 50 articles were published. A catalog of future products was prepared - within 90 days. Twenty-five major customer seminars around the world were conducted the first 90 day, followed by nearly 50 full-day seminars for the general public. IBM was won over - probably because of the availability of software for the Intel product line. Progress was monitored every two weeks.
Delivering the first 4-chip calculator microprocessor (4004) to Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation customer required working 12-16 hours/day for weeks. The Japanese envisioned 12 customer chips for its Busicom, Intel engineers suggested just four, including one that could be programmed for a variety of products - dramatically altering the course of electronics. The size of a fingernail, it delivered the same computing power as the first electronic computer (ENIAC - 18,000 tubes) built in 1946, which filled an entire room. It was produced on 2" wafers; the processor held 2,300 transistors, circuit line width was 10,000 nanometers, about one-tenth the average human hair. Clock speed was 740 kHz.
Only 20,000 mainframes had been sold worldwide in 1971 - a 10% market share wouldn't justify a serious R&D budget. However, early adopters sprung up like weeds, with innumerable new uses.
Grove's hearing problem required him to wear an ungainly hearing aid in his early years at Intel. When a meeting speaker ran over his allotted time or strayed from the point, Grove would take the hearing aid off and thump it down on the table to indicate he would listen no further. Grove was regularly in conflict with Intel's Bob Graham, head of marketing - but Noyce and Moore needed a really tough manager to axe projects, raises, and engineers, as well as marshal troops in tough situations. Grove stayed, Graham left.