The Man behind the Microchip

The Man behind the Microchip : Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley

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Hailed as the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford of Silicon Valley, Robert Noyce was a brilliant inventor, a leading entrepreneur, and a daring risk taker who piloted his own jets and skied mountains accessible only by helicopter. Now, in The Man Behind the Microchip, Leslie Berlin captures not only this colorful individual but also the vibrant interplay of technology, business, money, politics, and culture that defines Silicon Valley. Here is the life of a high-tech industry giant. The co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, Noyce co-invented the integrated circuit, the electronic heart of every modern computer, automobile, cellular telephone, advanced weapon, and video game. With access to never-before-seen documents, Berlin paints a fascinating portrait of Noyce: an ambitious and intensely competitive multimillionaire who exuded a "just folks" sort of charm, a Midwestern preacher's son who rejected organized religion but would counsel his employees to "go off and do something wonderful," a man who never looked back and sometimes paid a price for it. In addition, this vivid narrative sheds light on Noyce's friends and associates, including some of the best-known managers, venture capitalists, and creative minds in Silicon Valley. Berlin draws upon interviews with dozens of key players in modern American business-including Andy Grove, Steve Jobs, Gordon Moore, and Warren Buffett; their recollections of Noyce give readers a privileged, first-hand look inside the dynamic world of high-tech entrepreneurship. A modern American success story, The Man Behind the Microchip illuminates the triumphs and setbacks of one of the most important inventors and entrepreneurs of our more

Product details

  • Paperback | 440 pages
  • 149.9 x 218.4 x 30.5mm | 567g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • numerous halftones
  • 019531199X
  • 9780195311990
  • 106,001

Review quote

"At the white-hot epicenter of the digital revolution was Robert Noyce. Now, thanks to this incisive and astutely researched biography, Noyce will be forever listed among those inventor-entrepreneurs of the postwar era who functioned as the Johan Gutenbergs, the Alexander Graham Bells, the Guglielmo Marconis of our era."-Kevin Starr, University of Southern California "Leslie Berlin, in her highly readable biography of Noyce, describes how his work sparked two revolutions in the modern business and technology era."-Robert Weisman, Philadelphia Inquirer "Exhaustively researched. Berlin's thoughtful and thorough biography is at once a celebratory and a cautionary tale."-David Kushner, The Houston Chronicle "At last, the absorbing story of the most important figure in the history of the semiconductor industry! Meticulously researched, The Man Behind the Microchip is so engagingly narrated that you don't realize how much business and technology you are learning along the way."-William Aspray, Indiana University "The first full-scale biography of Noyce and the first book to acknowledge his true importance. Noyce's story is a fascinating one.... The book succeeds best as a business biography, putting his impressive accomplishments in perspective. Noyce should be considered one of the most influential inventors of our time, a prime mover of the digital revolution that has changed all our lives. For that he deserves much broader recognition. The Man Behind the Microchip is a great start in that direction."-PC Magazine "All the busy billionaires, multimillionaires and geeks in their garages dreaming up the next big thing that will bring glory back to Silicon Valley should plunk down some loose change on 'The Man Behind the Microchip.' And anyone interested in the true creation story of Silicon Valley-in contrast to the enticing tales of the mythmakers who continue to blow bubbles of promise up and down the Peninsula-would do well to make a small investment in this terrific biography."-John Christensen, San Francisco Chronicle "Bob Noyce's contributions to the development of the semiconductor industry go well beyond his inventions. He was industry spokesman, visionary, and leading entrepreneur. But this well written book does more than just chronicle his many contributions; it is a window into his complex and charming personality."-Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation "This is where Berlin is best: she superbly evokes the hacker inventiveness of Shockley and his gang."-Clive Thompson, The New York Times Book Review "Leslie Berlin's meticulously researched biography tells the story of a talented but flawed individual whose successes and failures could serve as the raw material for a dozen business school case studies. It also paints a revealing picture of US business culture in the mid-20th century.... [An] evocative account of the birth of an industry."-Financial Times "Not only an excellent biography, but also an intriguing history of the development of the digital age."-Harvard Business School Working Knowledge "Noyce understood the transformative power of new technology as well as anyone alive.... Berlin's rigorously factual account portrays the scientific process in all its grittiness."-MIT Technology Review "A well-rounded biography...excellent work."-Publisher's Weekly "Bob Noyce was one of the giants of Silicon Valley. The most extraordinary thing about this book is that Berlin has been able to cut through the legend and establish that this man, once nicknamed ``the mayor of Silicon Valley,'' was also an ordinary human being." [Berlin] has brought Noyce and his role in the valley's history into focus."-San Jose Mercury News "Few people had a greater impact on life in the second half of the 20th century than Bob Noyce, co-inventor of the integrated circuit. Yet he was little known outside the field of electronics. Leslie Berlin, in "The Man Behind the Microchip," her highly readable biography of Noyce, describes how his work sparked two revolutions in the modern business and technology era."-The Boston Globe "A comprehensive and admiring biography.... Berlin does a fine job uncovering the details of Noyce's childhood and tracing his intellectual development.... Berlin writes convincingly.... [A] thorough and worthy retelling of his life."-Washington Monthly "Leslie Berlin does an excellent job of capturing the Bob Noyce I knew: part small-town boy, part big-time genius and always a wonderful friend and citizen."-Warren E. Buffett, Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. "Leslie Berlin's excellent new study is a welcome addition to the body of historical literature dealing with recent computer technology. The book is one of only a handful of scholarly biographies of members of the generation of inventors and entrepreneurs whobuilt the semiconductor industry and helped create the economic and cultural phenomenon now known as Silicon Valley. Berlin describes Noyce's technical accomplishments accurately and with appropriate detail, but she also makes clear that he was as much a social and economic innovator as a technical one. Berlin's portrayal of Noyce might be characterized as ironic hagiography. She celebrates his achievementsbut also makes it clear that those accomplishments came at a substantial human cost. Berlin's biography will help preserve Noyce's reputation and will serve as an important resource for future studies of Silicon Valley."-American Scientist "An important, hype-free account. And the bonus: Noyce was no geeky physicist, and his risk-taking zeal to create new things, coupled with a powerful commitment to ethics, powers a story that should be required reading for today's entrepreneurs and executives."-The Washington Postshow more

About Leslie Berlin

Leslie Berlin is Project Historian for the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford University. For more information, please visit more

Review Text

"An important, hype-free account. And the bonus: Noyce was no geeky physicist, and his risk-taking zeal to create new things, coupled with a powerful commitment to ethics, powers a story that should be required reading for today's entrepreneurs and executives."-The Washington Postshow more

Rating details

253 ratings
4.2 out of 5 stars
5 39% (99)
4 46% (116)
3 12% (31)
2 2% (4)
1 1% (3)
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