Robert Noyce and Fairchild Semiconductor, 1957–1968

Robert Noyce's career at Fairchild Semiconductor sheds light on several developments that were central to the growth of Silicon Valley and the semiconductor industry: entrepreneurship, technical leadership, and the management of growth in a high-technology company. Noyce served as Fairchild Semiconductors first head of R&D and as its general manager for the six years of the company's most dramatic growth. His technical orientation, personal interest in new technologies, and hands-off management style helped establish a culture at the firm that welcomed innovations in research, process technology, manufacturing, and marketing. As Fairchild Semiconductor grew into a multidivisional mass producer, Noyce's entrepreneurial leadership proved inadequate. Communication breakdowns between divisions, coupled with a series of poor decisions by the parent company, further contributed to the decline of Fairchild Semiconductor.