Abstract: Entrepreneurship and the Rise of Silicon Valley: The Career of Robert Noyce, 1956-1990 [Krooss]

Leslie Berlin


The premise of this dissertation is that the career of Robert Noyce can illuminate the relationship between entrepreneurship and the rise of the semiconductor industry in Silicon Valley, California. Noyce co-invented the integrated circuit, the direct precursor to the microprocessors that lie at the heart of modern electronics. He co-founded Silicon Valley's first successful semiconductor company (Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957), as well as the industry's most powerful firm: Intel. Noyce both co-founded and served as a prominent spokesman for the industry's most effective lobbying organization, the Semiconductor Industry Association. His successful entrepreneurial career inspired hundreds of Silicon Valley residents to start their own high-tech companies. For the last two years of his life, Noyce served as the first CEO of SEMATECH, a billion-dollar manufacturing research consortium with membership that included fourteen semiconductor firms and the Department of Defense. The dissertation explores four major themes: the roles of apprenticeship and invention in high-tech entrepreneurship, the uneasy relationship between the U.S. government and American entrepreneurs, the gap between the myth and reality of entrepreneurial success, and the limits of entrepreneurship.