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Robert Noyce Celebrated With Microchip Google Logo

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Google's homepage is looking chipper than usual today in honor of the "Mayor of Silicon Valley," Robert Noyce.

Noyce, whose 84th birthday would have been today, not only co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, but also co-invented the integrated circuit, or microchip, in 1959, paving the way for a new era of computing.

In his patent application for a "Semiconducter Device-and-Lead Structure" (a.k.a. an integrated circuit) Noyce described the device as relating to "electrical circuit structures incorporating semiconductor devices" and noted its "principal objects" were "to provide improved device-and-lead structures for making electrical connections to the various semiconductor regions; to make unitary circuit structures more compact and more easily fabricated in small sizes than has heretofore been feasible; and to facilitate the inclusion of numerous semiconductor deices within a single body of material."

"Don't be encumbered by history. Go off and do something wonderful," Noyce said, according to Intel's "online exhibit" honoring Noyce. He is also quoted as saying, "Optimism is an essential ingredient of innovation. How else can the individual welcome change over security, adventure over staying in safe places?"

Noyce was granted fifteen patents during his lifetime, and his work earned him accolades from three U.S. presidents, as well as awards and honors including the National Medal of Science, the National Academy of Engineering's Charles Stark Draper Prize and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Medal of Honor. Noyce was born December 12, 1927 in Burlington, Iowa and died June 3, 1990 of a heart attack.

"I grew up in small town America...you had to be self sufficient," Noyce said in an interview . "If something was broke, you to fixed it yourself. I was easily bored if something wasn't going on, so my mother used to send me out to take things apart."

Tom Wolfe said of Noyce in his profile of the pioneer, "The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce: How the Sun Rose on the Silicon Valley":

With his strong face, his athlete's build, and the Gary Cooper manner, Bob Noyce projected what psychologists call the halo effect. People with the halo effect seem to know exactly what they're doing and moreover make you want to admire them for it. They make you see the halos over their heads.

Read more about Noyce here or here, or check out Leslie Berlin's biography of Noyce, "The Man Behind The Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley."

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