Noyce enjoyed reading Hemingway, flying his own airplane, hang gliding, and scuba diving. Noyce believed that microelectronics would continue to advance in complexity and sophistication well beyond its current state, leading to the question of what use society would make of the technology. In his last interview, Noyce was asked what he would do if he were "emperor" of the United States. He said that he would, among other things, "…make sure we are preparing our next generation to flourish in a high-tech age. And that means education of the lowest and the poorest, as well as at the graduate school level.
After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953, he took his first job as a research engineer at the Philco Corporation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He left in 1956 for the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in Mountain View, California.
He joined William Shockley at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, a division of Beckman Instruments, but left with the "Traitorous Eight" in 1957, upon having issues with respect to the quality of its management, and co-founded the influential Fairchild Semiconductor corporation. According to Sherman Fairchild, Noyce's impassioned presentation of his vision was the reason Fairchild had agreed to create the semiconductor division for the Traitorous Eight.
Noyce and Gordon E. Moore founded in 1968 when they left Fairchild Semiconductor. Arthur Rock, the chairman of Intel's board and a major investor in the company said that for Intel to succeed, Intel needed Noyce, Moore and Andrew Grove. And it needed them in that order. Noyce: the visionary, born to inspire; Moore: the virtuoso of technology; and Grove: the technologist turned management scientist.
The relaxed culture that Noyce brought to Intel was a carry-over from his style at Fairchild Semiconductor. He treated employees as family, rewarding and encouraging teamwork. His follow-your-bliss management style set the tone for many Valley success stories. Noyce's management style could be called a "roll up your sleeves" style. He shunned fancy corporate cars, reserved parking spaces, private jets, offices, and furnishings in favor of a less-structured, relaxed working environment in which everyone contributed and no one benefited from lavish benefits. By declining the usual executive perks he stood as a model for future generations of Intel CEOs. At Intel, he oversaw Ted Hoff's invention of the microprocessor, which was his second revolution.
At the time of his death, he was the president and chief executive officer of Sematech Inc, a non-profit consortium that performs basic research into semiconductor manufacturing. It was organized as a partnership between the United States government and 14 corporations in an attempt to help the American computer industry catch up with the Japanese in semiconductor manufacturing technology.
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