Robert Noyce: Microchip

From the day he first handled one in college in 1948, Robert Noyce knew the new gadget meant the end of balky, bulky vacuum tubes. But he also realized you couldn't do much with transistors until you could link them together, like fibers in an Oriental rug. To everyone's astonishment, the gifted young man from Grinnell, Iowa--a minister's son--achieved that goal in a decade. His integrated circuit, or microchip, not only helped rename an orchard-filled California valley but also led to a seemingly endless harvest of silicon devices, from PCs to coffeemakers.

Recruited by Shockley himself, Noyce joined the new...

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