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Robert Noyce’s 84th Birthday

December 11, 2011 by staff 

Robert Noyce’s 84th Birthday, Robert Norton Noyce (December 12, 1927 – June 3, 1990), nicknamed “the Mayor of Silicon Valley”, co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and Intel in 1968. He is also credited (along with Jack Kilby) with the invention of the integrated circuit or microchip which fueled the personal computer revolution and gave Silicon Valley its name. Noyce was also a mentor and father-figure to an entire generation of entrepreneurs.
He was born on December 12, 1927, in Burlington, Iowa. He was the third of four sons of the Rev. Ralph Brewster Noyce. His father was a 1915 graduate of Doane College, a 1920 graduate of Oberlin College, and a 1923 graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary. He was a Congregational clergyman and the associate superintendent of the Iowa Conference of Congregational Churches in the 1930s and 1940s. His mother, Harriet May Norton, a 1921 graduate of Oberlin College, was the daughter of the Rev. Milton J. Norton, a Congregational clergyman, and Louise Hill. She has been described as an intelligent woman with a commanding will.

His earliest childhood memory involves beating his father at ping pong and feeling absolutely devastated when his mother’s reaction to this thrilling news was a distracted “Wasn’t that nice of Daddy to let you win?” Even at the age of five, Noyce was offended by the notion of intentionally losing at anything. “That’s not the game,” he sulked to his mother. “If you’re going to play, play to win!”

In the summer of 1940, when he was 12, he built a boy-sized aircraft with his brother, which they used to fly from the roof of the Grinnell College stables. Later he built a radio from scratch and motorized his sled by welding a propeller and an engine from an old washing machine to the back of it.

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