How It Really Works

What transformed a patch of prune orchards into the epicenter of global technology?

WHO COULD HAVE DREAMED, 40 YEARS AGO, THAT THE EIGHT disgruntled engineers who marched out of Shockley Semiconductor Labs in Mountain View, Calif., would set in motion one of the most amazing chains of events in American business history? They would come to be known as the Traitorous Eight, young men with an average age under 30, each with his genius barely tapped. Among them were visionaries such as Robert N. Noyce, Gordon E. Moore, and Eugene Kleiner. They quickly founded Fairchild Semiconductor Corp., a pioneer in creating semiconductor chips from silicon alone. More important, they began an entrepreneurial tradition that planted the seeds that became Silicon Valley.

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