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The Man behind the MicrochipRobert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley$
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Leslie Berlin

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195163438

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195163438.001.0001

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A Strange Little Upstart

A Strange Little Upstart

Chapter:
(p.128) 6 A Strange Little Upstart
Source:
The Man behind the Microchip
Author(s):

Leslie Berlin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195163438.003.0007

This chapter focuses on Robert Noyce's unconventional management approach at Fairchild Semiconductor. In the mid-1960s, Fairchild Semiconductor was not a typical semiconductor company. Andy Grove, who joined in 1963, once described the company as “a strange little upstart”, a phrase that captured the essence of the organization. Noyce, for instance, disdained hierarchy. He would stop to talk to anyone about anything and knew many details of his employees' personal lives. He also liked to gather a group of informed people in a room, listen to their opinions, and get a broad acceptance on the next steps before he made a decision. However, Noyce's and Semiconductor's focus on innovation, which had served the company so well in its early years, proved debilitating as the firm matured. It contributed to a culture that prioritized research over manufacturing and disdained routine but important work such as knowing inventory levels or the status of an order.

Keywords:   Robert Noyce, management, Fairchild Semiconductor, semiconductor industry, integrated circuits

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