Fairchild Semiconductor

Fairchild Semiconductor

Infobox Company
name = Fairchild Semiconductor
International, Inc.

type = Public (NYSE: [http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NYSE:FCS FCS] )
genre =
foundation = 1957 / 1997
founder =
location = South Portland, Maine
United States
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revenue =
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num_employees = 9000
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Present day Fairchild Semiconductor International, Inc. is a spin-off company resulting from reconstitution of assets in National Semiconductor. It inherits the Fairchild name of the original Fairchild Camera and Instrument, which had been the cornerstone of the semiconductor industry since 1957. The original Fairchild had been acquired by Schlumberger which then sold it to National Semiconductor.

The company has locations in San Jose, California, West Jordan, Utah, Mountaintop, Pennsylvania, Bucheon, South Korea, Penang, Malaysia, Suzhou, China, and Cebu, Philippines, among others.

Its corporate headquarters is located in South Portland, Maine.

Company history


In 1956 William Shockley opened Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory as a division of Beckman Instruments in Mountain View, California; his plan was to develop a new type of "4-layer diode" that would work faster and have more uses than current transistors. At first he attempted to hire some of his former colleagues from Bell Labs, but none were willing to move to the West Coast or work with Shockley again. Instead he founded the core of the new company with what he considered the best and brightest graduates coming out of American engineering schools.

Only a year later, the staff of eight engineers decided to leave Shockley and form their own company. The group later became known widely as the Traitorous Eight. The eight men were Julius Blank, Victor Grinich, Jean Hoerni, Eugene Kleiner, Jay Last, Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce, and Sheldon Roberts. Looking for funding on their own project, they turned to Sherman Fairchild's Fairchild Camera and Instrument, an Eastern U.S. company with considerable military contracts. In 1957 Fairchild Semiconductor was started with plans on making silicon transistors – at the time germanium was still a common material for semiconductor use.

According to Sherman Fairchild, Noyce's impassioned presentation of his vision was the reason Sherman Fairchild had agreed to create the semiconductor division for the Traitorous Eight. Noyce advocated the use of silicon as substrate - since the material costs would consist of sand and a few fine wires, the major cost would be in the manufacturing process. Noyce also expressed his belief that silicon semiconductors would herald the start of disposable appliances that due to cheap electronic components would not be repaired but disposed when worn out. [cite book | url = http://books.google.com/books?id=zeKnJilSyx8C&pg=PA118&dq=intitle:%22Forbes+Greatest+Technology+Stories%22+disposable+components&lr=&as_brr=0&ei=GOTNSM2uJqaktAPJkqjkBQ&sig=ACfU3U05a-3vlBP8cS_iJ55E-YLczmruRA | title = Greatest Technology Stories | author = Jeffrey S. Young | pages = p.118 | year = 1998 | isbn = 0471243744 | publisher = John Wiley and Sons ]

Their first transistors were of the silicon mesa variety, innovative for their time, but with several drawbacks. Later Fairchild pioneered the planar process developed by Jean Hoerni in 1958, which was a huge improvement—transistors could be made easier, cheaper, and with much higher performance. Fairchild's planar process made most other transistor designs obsolete. One casualty of this was Philco's transistor division, which had just built a $40 million dollar plant to make their now totally obsolete germanium PADT process transistors. Within a few years every other transistor company copied or licensed the Fairchild planar process.

Their first marketed planar transistor was the 2N697 (initially a mesa transistor [ [http://semiconductormuseum.com/PhotoGallery/PhotoGallery_2N697.htm TRANSISTOR MUSEUM Historic Transistor Photo Gallery FAIRCHILD 2N697] ] ), and was a huge success. The first batch of 100 was sold to IBM for $150 a piece. Only two years later they had managed to build a circuit with four transistors on a single wafer of silicon, thereby creating the first silicon integrated circuit. (Texas Instruments' Jack Kilby had developed an integrated circuit made of germanium on September 12, 1958, and was awarded a U.S. patent). The company grew from twelve to twelve thousand employees, and was soon making $130 million a year.


[Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970By Christophe LécuyerPublished by MIT Press, 2006ISBN 0262122812, 9780262122818] Fairchild's Noyce and Texas Instrument's Kilby had independently invented the integrated circuit (IC) based on bipolar technology. In 1960, Noyce invented the planar integrated circuit. The industry preferred Fairchild's invention over Texas Instruments' because the transistors in planar ICs were interconnected by a thinfilm deposit, whereas Texas Instruments' invention required fine wires to connect the individual circuits. Noyce's invention was enabled by the planar process developed by Jean Hoerni.

Fairchild R&D began development of MOSFET (Metal-oxide semiconductor field effect transistor) technology in the early 1960s, which had been pioneered by RCA and Bell Labs. The experiments led to Fairchild's development of MOS integrated circuits. However, the instability of the technology would not lead to manufacturing production of MOS integrated circuits in Fairchild.

In 1963, Fairchild hired Robert Widlar to design analog operational amplifiers using Fairchild's process. Since Fairchild's processes were optimised for digital circuits, Widlar collaborated with process engineer Dave Talbert. The collaboration resulted in two revolutionary products - µA702 and µA709.

Hence, Fairchild dominated the analog integrated circuit market, having introduced the first IC operational amplifiers, or "op amps", Bob Widlar's µA702 (in 1964) and µA709. In 1968, Fairchild introduced David Fullagar's µA741, which became the most popular IC op amp of all time.

By 1965, Fairchild's process improvements had brought low-cost manufacturing to the semiconductor industry - making Fairchild nearly the only profitable semiconductor manufacturer in the United States. Fairchild dominated the market in DTL, op-amps and mainframe computer custom circuits.

Fairchild had not initially done well in the digital integrated circuit market. Their first line of ICs was the "micrologic" RTL(Resistor-Transistor-Logic) line which was used in the Apollo Guidance Computer. It had the advantage of being extremely simple—each inverter consisted of just one transistor and two resistors. But the logic family had many drawbacks that had made it marginal for commercial purposes, and not well suited for military applications. The logic could only tolerate about 100 millivolts of noise—far too low for comfort. It was a while before Fairchild relied on more robust designs, such as DTL (diode-transistor-logic) which had much better noise margins.

Sales due to Fairchild semiconductor division had doubled each year and by the mid-1960s comprised two thirds of total sales of the parent company. In 1966, the sales of Fairchild was second to Texas Instruments's, followed in third place by Motorola. Noyce was rewarded with the position of corporate vice-president and hence became the "de facto" head of the semiconductor division.

However, internal troubles at Fairchild began to surface with a drop in earnings in 1967. There was increasing competition from newer startups. The semiconductor division, situated in Mountain View and Palo Alto, California, was actually managed by executives from Syossett, New York, who visited the California sites once a year - even though the semiconductor division earned most of the profits of the company. Fairchild's president at that time, John Carter, had used all the profits to fund acquisitions of unprofitable ventures.

Noyce's position on Fairchild's executive staff was consistently compromised by Sherman's faction. Charles E Sporck was Noyce's operations manager. Sporck was reputed to run the tightest operation in the world. Sporck, Pierre Lamond and most managers had grown upset and disillusioned with corporate focus on unprofitable ventures at the expense of the semiconductor division. Executives at the semiconductor division were alloted substantially less stock options compared to other divisions. In March 1967, Sporck was hired away by Peter J Sprague to National Semiconductor. Sporck brought with him four other Fairchild personnel. [cite book | url = http://books.google.com/books?id=zeKnJilSyx8C&pg=PA132&dq=intitle:%22Forbes+Greatest+Technology+Stories%22+fairchild&lr=&as_brr=0&ei=WqbNSPicDI-4swPz1oX-Ag&sig=ACfU3U2_cJlkbirtbvJVtDqhzYJWQc_WyQ#PPA127,M1Forbes | title = Greatest Technology Stories | author = Jeffrey S. Young | pages = p.127 | year = 1998 | isbn = 0471243744 | publisher = John Wiley and Sons ] Actually, Lamond had previously assembled a team of Fairchild managers in preparation to defect to Plessey, a British company. Lamond had recruited Sporck to be his own boss. When negotiations with Plessey broke down over stock options, Lamond and Sporck succumbed to Widlar's and Talbert's (who were already employed at National Semiconductor) suggestion that they look to National Semiconductor [Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970By Christophe LécuyerPublished by MIT Press, 2006ISBN 0262122812, 9780262122818; page 260] . Widlar and Talbert had earlier left Fairchild to join Molectro, which was later acquired by National Semiconductor [National Semiconductor#Founding] .

In the fall of 1967 Fairchild suffered loss for the first time since 1958 and announced write-offs of $4 million due to excess capacity, which contributed to a total loss of $7.6 million. Profits had sunken to $0.50 a share compared to $3 a share the previous year, while the value of the stock dropped in half. In December 1967, the board ordered Carter to sell off all of Fairchild's unprofitable ventures. Carter responded to the order by resigning abruptly.

Furthermore, Fairchild's DTL technology was being overtaken by Texas Instruments's faster TTL (Transistor-transitor-logic).

While Noyce was considered the natural successor to Carter, the board decided not to promote him. Sherman led the board to choose Richard Hodgson. Within a few months Hodgson was replaced by a management commitee led by Noyce, while Sherman Fairchild looked for a new CEO other than Noyce. In response, Noyce discreetly planned a new company with Gordon Moore, the head of R&D. They left Fairchild to found Intel in 1968. Among the investors of Intel were Hodgson and five of the founding members of Fairchild.

Sherman Fairchild hired Lester Hogan, who was the head of Motorola semiconductor division. Hogan proceeded to hire another hundred managers from Motorola to entirely displace the management of Fairchild.

The loss of these iconic executives, coupled with Hogan's displacement of Fairchild managers demoralised Fairchild and prompted the entire exodus of employees to found new companies.

Many of the original founders, otherwise known as the "fairchildren", had left Fairchild in the 1960s to form companies that grew to prominence in the 1970s. Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore were among the last of the original founders to leave. At which point the brain-drain of talents that had fueled the growth of the company was complete.

A Fairchild advertisement of the time showed a collage of the logos of Silicon Valley with the annotation "We started it all.".


Hogan's action to hire from Motorola had Motorola file a law suit against Fairchild, which the court then decided in Fairchild's favour in 1973. Judge William Copple, ruled that Fairchild's results were so unimpressive that it was impossible to assess damages "under any theory." Hogan was dismissed as president the next year, but remained as vice chairman. [cite web|url=http://www.mercurynews.com/obituaries/ci_10229711|title=Mecury News, Hogan's obituary]

In 1973 Fairchild became the first company to produce a commercial Charge-coupled device following its invention at Bell Labs. Digital image sensors are still produced today at their descendant company, Fairchild Imaging.

After Intel introduced the 8008 8-bit microprocessor, Fairchild developed the Fairchild F8 8-bit microprocessor, which had an unusual architecture and was not a great market success.

In 1976 the company released the first video game system to use ROM cartridges, the Channel F, using the F8 microprocessor.

By the end of the 1970s they had few new products in the pipeline, and increasingly turned to niche markets with their existing product line, notably "hardened" integrated circuits for military and space applications. Fairchild was being operated at a loss, and the bottomline subsisted mostly from licensing of its patents.

In 1979, Fairchild Camera and Instrument was purchased by Schlumberger Limited, an oil field services company, for $425 million. At this time, Fairchild's intellectual properties, on which Fairchild had been subsisting, were expiring.


Schlumberger sold Fairchild to National Semiconductor in 1987 for $200 million. [http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2002/0318/076.html] The sale did not include Fairchild's Test Division, which designed and produced Automated Test Equipment (ATE) for the semiconductor manufacturing industry.


Gil Amelio, then CEO, had divided National Semiconductor products into two divisions: Standard Products group which comprises low-margin, logic and memory chips - commodity products which were more susceptible to cyclical demands and through which National Semiconductor had matured; and Communications & Computing group which comprises high-margin, value-added analogue and mixed-signal chips.

Amelio's divisioning of products would prepare National Semiconductor for the eventual disposal of low-margin commodity product lines. These product lines were constituted into the Fairchild division, headed by Kirk Pond, within National Semiconductor during Brian Halla's tenure.

In 1997, the reconstituted Fairchild Semiconductor was reborn as an independent company, based in South Portland, Maine with Kirk Pond as CEO.

On March 11, 1997, National Semiconductor Corporation announced the US$550 million sale of a reconstituted Fairchild to the management of Fairchild with the backing of Sterling LLC, a unit of Citicorp Venture Capital. Fairchild carried with it what was mostly the Standard Products group previously segregated by Amelio.

The reconstitution was characterised by having most of existing formerly Fairchild facilities retained by National Semiconductor, with the exception of the original Fairchild facilities in South Portland, Maine. While Fairchild inherited some offshore locations that were formerly National Semiconductor facilities.

The Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation announced November 27, 1997 that it would acquire the semiconductor division of the Raytheon Corporation for about $120 million in cash. The acquisition was completed on Dec. 31, 1997 for approximately $120 million in cash. [cite web
title=Acquisition of Raytheon's semiconductor division


In August 1999 Fairchild Semiconductor again became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol [http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NYSE:FCS FCS] . Fairchild's South Portland, Maine location is the longest continuously operating semiconductor manufacturing facility in the world.


Faichild Semiconductor announced March 19, 2001 it had completed the acquisition of Intersil Corporation's discrete power business for approximately $338 million in cash. The acquisition moved Fairchild to a position as the second largest power MOSFET supplier in the world, representing a 20 percent share of this $3 billion market that grew 40 percent last year.

The original Intersil was founded by Jean Hoerni in 1967, a founding member of the original Fairchild semiconductor division in 1957. Intersil had undergone the same fate of being a reconstituted namesake company.


On Jan. 9, 2004, Fairchild Semiconductor CEO Kirk Pond was appointed as a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, elected by member banks to serve a three year term. [cite web|title=Kirk Pond appointed as a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston |url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2004_Jan_9/ai_n27786597]


[cite web|title=Fairchild announces appointment of Mark Thompson as CEO|url=http://powerelectronics.com/news/semiconductor-vendor-president/] On April 13, 2005, Fairchild announced appointment of Mark Thompson as CEO of the corporation. Thompson would also be President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors of Fairchild Semiconductor International. He originally joined Fairchild as Executive Vice President, Manufacturing and Technology Group.

Kirk Pond remained as Chairman of the board.

Prior to joining Fairchild, Dr. Thompson served as CEO of Big Bear Networks. He also serves on the board of directors of American Science and Engineering, Inc. in Massachusetts. Thompson holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina and a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York.


Fairchild Semiconductor announced on March 15, 2006 that Kirk P. Pond, would retire as Chairman at the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting on May 3, 2006. Pond would continue as a member of the company’s board of directors. [cite web
title=Fairchild Semiconductor announces Kirk Pond's retirement as Chairman

Dr Mark Thompson, CEO, would accept the mantle of being the Chairman.


Fairchild Semiconductor celebrates a symbolic 50 year anniversary of the original Fairchild semiconductor division which was established in 1957 and its 10th year as being the newly reconstituted Fairchild.

Fairchild Semiconductor announced Sept. 6, 2001 the acquisition of Impala Linear Corporation, based in San Jose, Californian for approximately $6 million in stock and cash. Impala brought with it expertise in designing analog power management semiconductors for hand-held devices like laptops, MP3 players, cell phones, portable test equipment and PDA's.

On Sep 1, 2007 Warren, NJ-based RF semiconductor supplier Anadigics acquired Fairchild Semiconductor's RF design team, located in Tyngsboro, Mass., for $2.3 million.


* Wilfred Corrigan
* James M. Early
* Federico Faggin
* Andrew Grove
* Jean Hoerni
* Lester Hogan
* Eugene Kleiner
* Gordon Moore
* Robert Noyce
* Chih-Tang Sah
* Jerry Sanders
* Robert Swanson
* Ed Turney
* Leslie L. Vadász
* Frank Wanlass
* Bob Widlar


External links

* [http://www.fairchildsemi.com Official homepage] of Fairchild Semiconductor International
* [http://www.fairchildimaging.com Fairchild Imaging]
* [http://www.computerhistory.org/corphist/index.php IT Corporate Histories Collection] link to Fairchild Semiconductor history content on the Computer History Museum site.
* [http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/12/buying-tomatoes-at-the-birthplace-of-silicon-valley/#more-1466 Buying Tomatoes at the Birthplace of Silicon Valley] : What happened to the original Fairchild site and to Shockley Lab.Finance links
name = Fairchild Semiconductor International
symbol = FCS
sec_cik = 1036960
hoovers = 53008

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