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The history of computing

1968: Inside Intel

Computerworld Flashback
1968


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THIS YEAR IN
COMPUTER HISTORY
Technology Happenings
Dendral, the first medical diagnostic program, is created at Stanford University by Joshua Lederberg.
Data General Corp. is founded by Edson DeCastro, former PDP-8 chief engineer at Digital Equipment Corp., and other Digital engineers.
On Sept. 28, Raymond Schoolfield stands naked in front of the IBM building in Atlanta holding a sign that reads, "Computers are Obscene."
Edsger Dijkstra introduces the concept of structured programming and declares that GOTO statements should no longer be used.

In Space
January: The Surveyor VII space probe makes a soft landing on the moon. This is the last U.S. unmanned exploration of the lunar surface.
October: The first manned Apollo spacecraft, Apollo 7, takes off with astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn Fulton Eisele and R. Walter Cunningham aboard.
December: Apollo 8 is launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. then known as Cape Kennedy. During the mission, which lasts 6 days, 3 hours and 42 seconds, Frank Borman, James A. Lovell Jr. and William A. Anders become the first humans to circle the moon, orbiting it 10 times.

Born in 1968
Gillian Anderson, Dana Sculley on The X-Files
Amy Carter (now Amy Antonucci), daughter of President Jimmy Carter
Lucy Lawless, Xena: Warrior Princess
Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs slugger
John Gilchrist, "Mikey" in the Life cereal television commercials

Other Notables
Widespread protests continue against increased U.S. military participation in Vietnam.
60 Minutes, now television's longest-running prime-time newsmagazine, debuts on CBS.
New cars must be equipped with seat belts.
Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey is released, introducing the world to HAL 9000, the computer that runs amok and kills people in space.
Best Picture: Oliver!

  

July 7, 1999
Web posted at: 4:10 p.m. EDT (2010 GMT)

by Leslie Goff

(IDG) -- Gordon Moore still has a bottle of Napoleon brandy signed by the gang that helped get Intel Corp. up and running in 1968. The company co-founder and chairman emeritus won the bottle by wagering that by the end of that year, all the manufacturing gear for making semiconductor memories would be in place and the process would be ready to go.

On New Year's Eve only a week after a flood from a broken pipe threatened to shut the operation down the group completed the groundwork. Moore threw a party for the bet's losers, and Intel has been beating the odds ever since.

Like many early Silicon Valley start-ups, Intel was born of Fairchild Semiconductor, which Moore, integrated-circuit inventor Robert Noyce and six others launched in 1958. Frustrated by management crises at Fairchild, Moore and Noyce decided to strike out on their own once again to form a company that would research, develop and manufacture "integrated electronic structures."

Gordon Moore recently spoke with Computerworld about the early days at Intel.

Q: What was your original vision for Intel?

A: We wanted to make complex integrated circuits. And we saw semiconductor memory as the place to get started. But our vision didn't go that far. As a start-up, we were more concerned with short-term survival. We figured we had to get to $25 million in revenues in five years that was the vision. And we were $53 million in five years, so we met that comfortably.

Q: Potential customers such as IBM and Digital Equipment Corp. weren't interested in microprocessors. What kept Intel going until they took notice?

A: It was all these embedded applications. The microprocessor was showing up in all kinds of things you would never have imagined it offered an easy way to do programmable logic, and that is still the majority of microprocessor applications today.

Q: What were some of the early applications?

A: A lot of funny things some guy automated his chicken house using one of our microprocessors. I don't know what an automated chicken house does, but that was certainly creative. There was a marijuana sniffer that could replace drug-sniffing guard dogs. Then there were important ones like blood analyzers. And early in the game, people started looking at them for automotive applications Buick built a cruise control using one.

Q: Did you ever think the whole thing was going to tank?

A: Surely not in '68. If you talk to Andy [Grove, current chairman and Intel's fourth employee], you get a different view. But I had been through two start-ups before, and Intel was so smooth everything worked well. For him, it was his first, and he was closer to a lot that had to happen. And he considers it the most trying time of his life.

Q: What do you recall about Grove's early management style?

A: Even though he had a strong technical background, he got much more interested and involved in organizations and how they were run. Have you ever heard about Andy's "Sign-in List?" I was complaining that we couldn't get a meeting going until 8:30 a.m. So he had the idea that anyone who entered the building after 8:06 a.m. had to sign a list. If you got to the parking lot at 8:03 or 8:04, you would run to the building so you wouldn't have to sign the list. Even I did it. When Andy became president, he got rid of it. It was innocuous there were no consequences of being on the list but it had a significant psychological impact.

Q: Outside of technical finesse, what are some of the things Intel did early that are still reflected in the company today?

A: We developed a strong corporate culture almost from the beginning that tried to let people with greatest technical knowledge make the technical decisions. We haven't overdirected from the top. And we've had organizational strength we always tried to hire the best people. The management team has all been people we hired early in their career, and that has given us a consistent culture that's very powerful.

Goff is a frequent contributor to Computerworld. Contact her at lgoff@ix.netcom.com.



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