The Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory of Beckman Instruments
Two versions of the Intel-made-famous photo of the staff of the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory
their leader at a luncheon on the day after the announcement of the Nobel
Prize honoring the inventors
of the transistor (John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William
At table L-R: Gordon
Roberts, Victor Jones, and Shockley.
Horsley stands at far left; That may be the back of Eugene Kleiner in the
immediate foreground, Robert
Noyce is fourth from left, immediately
behind Jones, Jay Last
is at the far right.
What is the point of this web page? As the fourth or fifth scientist/engineer to be hired by SSL and the first to voluntarily quit, I have over
the years often been asked questions about the early days of SSL
So, as one of the few survivers of those early days, I have tried to
gather up a few tidbits to add to the historical picture.
If you want to know the story of the infamous puddle crystal grower see the note I have entitled Arguably the First
Silicon Crystal Grown in "Silicon Valley".
Again to highlight my particular knowledge I note a few of my first impressions of Shockley.
The oral history Gordon
Moore gave to the Silicon Genesis project (Stanford
Libraries) is quite insightful on the the "Shockley experience."
marvelous biography on Bob Noyce, The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon
Valley, includes a insightful appraisal of the pivotal role
of the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in the history of Silicon
Randall MacLowry's recent The American Experience: Silicon Valley does a good job telling much of the story from another perspective.
Other interesting/relevant links:
- Remarkable Engineers: From Riquet to Shannon gives
an interesting view of Shockley's family history and private life.
It also it posits the view that his behavior as a child and after
middle age, suggests a personality disorder on the autistic spectrum. Several others (see here) have also suggested an autism diagnosis. This particular link's technical and business history is pretty weak.
- William B. Shockley NYT Obituary
- A letter from John Bardeen to M. J. Kelly (May 24, 1951) which gives a profoundly sensitive view of the problems of working with/for Shockley.
- Joel N. Shurkin's Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley, Creator of the Electronic Age (see a January 30, 2007 email to Shurkin commenting on this book).
- Robery Noyce and Fairchild Semiconductor, 1957-1968 Business History Review; Boston; Spring 2001; Leslie R Berlin
- The Chemical Heritage Foundation's Oral History of R. Victor Jones no longer seems to be available online, but there is a Local Personal Copy here. This
interview was conducted by David C. Brock on 18 April 2006 which recounts
Jones's experiences at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory 1955-57
- Bo Lojek's History of Semiconductor Engineering (2007)
is an extensive, valuable reference on the early days of semiconductor
development. In particular, the treatment of the history of the
Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory is pretty accurate.
- Chemical Heritage Foundation Oral History: Morris Tanenbaum is
an incredibly important, but genernally ignored, overview of the
evolution of techniques relevant to the history of integrated circuits.
Tanenbaum makes clear (and I believe it to be true)
that everything was in place at Bell Telephone Laboratory - particularly, the technology
associated with the development of the mesa transistor - to have
developed integrated circuits, perhaps, five years or so before the
Fairchild work. However, it is clear from Tanenbaum that the motivation didn't
seem to be there. I guess that was Shockley's point - the anti-trust
sensitive environment at BTL stifled innovation. Hunger works?
This interview was particularly interesting to me
since Tanenbaum implies that my academic benefactor - Robert L.Wallace -
was eager to make some kind of integrated circuit with the mesa
Mr. Wallace, who rose to high administrative rank at BTL eventually
funded the Harvard professorial chair that I held for twenty one years
and is now held by Federico Capasso.
This page was prepared and is maintained by R.
Comments to: email@example.com.
Last updated August 03, 2016