Semiconductor Device-and-Lead Structure. U.S. patent 2,981,877, filed on July 30, 1959, granted on April 25, 1961.

[Washington D.C. 1961].

First edition, extremely rare, of the first patent for the integrated circuit. “Independently of Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments, Robert N. Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor, Mountain View, California, invented the first practical monolithic circuit concept. Based on the ‘planar’ technology invented in 1957 by physicist Jean Hoerni at Fairchild, Noyce’s invention consisted of a complete electronic circuit inside a small silicon chip. Noyce’s first description of his invention was entitled ‘Methods of isolating multiple devices,’ written on January 23, 1959 on pp. 70-71 of his patent notebook for Fairchild Semiconductor. Noyce filed for a patent on ‘Semiconductor Device-and-Lead Structure’ on July 30, 1959. U.S. patent 2,981,877 was granted on April 25, 1961” ( “Before the Internet and the World Wide Web and cell phones and personal digital assistants and laptop computers and desktop computers and pocket calculators and digital watches and pacemakers and ATMs and cruise control and digital cameras and motion detectors and video games – before all these, and the electronic heart of all these, is a tiny device called an integrated circuit. The inventor of the first practical integrated circuit, in 1959, was Robert Noyce” (Berlin, p. 1). “True revolutions in technology are relatively rare. They mark radical departures from one way of life to another. The use of tools, the invention of movable type, and the construction of the atomic bomb are examples of developments that changed society in a fundamental way. The microelectronics revolution that followed the development of the integrated circuit in 1959 has again remade the world as we know it. In our lifetimes, it has propelled us into the era we call the information age” (Science and its Times). “Fairchild and TI engaged in litigation over I.C. patents for many years. The courts eventually ruled in Noyce’s favor but by then the companies had already settled on a cross-license agreement that included a net payment to Fairchild. Kilby and Noyce both received the National Medal of Science and today are celebrated as co-inventors of the integrated circuit. Kilby is credited with building the first working circuit with all components formed using semiconductor material; Noyce with the metal-over-oxide interconnection scheme that yields a monolithic structure” (Computer History Museum). Not on OCLC. No copies in auction records.

The son of a Congregationalist minister, Noyce grew up in Grinnell, Iowa, an ordinary Midwestern town with a population of 7,000 in 1948. As a physics major at Grinnell College, he was introduced to solid-state physics by Grant Gale, the school’s physics professor and a friend of John Bardeen’s. In the summer of 1948, Gale read a little item in the newspaper about the invention of the transistor, and he asked Bardeen to send him some samples for his students. Noyce was one of the first people in the country to experiment with a transistor, and he decided to specialize in solid-state physics at graduate school. He went to MIT, where, much to his surprise, few people had even heard about the transistor, let alone experimented with one. There weren’t any courses in solid-state physics, at MIT or any other school, and there wouldn’t be until the mid-1950s. Gale was one of the few professors who knew anything about transistor electronics, and he and Noyce often compared notes. When Noyce received his Ph.D. in 1953, he headed straight for industry, where most solid-state research was being conducted. His first job was with Philco, in Philadelphia, which he chose because the company was opening a semiconductor operation and the chances for advancement seemed best there. But it turned out that Philco wasn’t really interested in advanced research, and Noyce soon began to look elsewhere.

“In 1955, he and a Swiss-born physicist named Jean Hoerni arrived in Mountain View, California, to go to work for Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, a small company that William Shockley, the transistor’s co-inventor, had set up in the hope of cashing in on his knowledge of solid-state physics. (Mountain View is next door to Palo Alto, Shockley’s hometown and the home of Stanford University.) Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, begun with support from Arnold Beckman of Beckman Instruments, was an unprepossessing outfit; it occupied a glorified shed on South San Antonio Road and had about fifteen employees.

“Although Shockley was a brilliant research director, with an uncanny sense for the experimental jugular, he was a poor manager of people and money and held a somewhat conspiratorial view of the world. He posted a list of everyone’s salaries, hoping to put an end to company secrets; he required his employees to rate one another regularly, a process that immediately degenerated into a popularity contest; and, after the lab’s work ran into inexplicable delays which Shockley unaccountably blamed on sabotage, he ordered one of his employees to take a lie detector test. (The man passed.) Moreover, for all his technical brilliance, he insisted on concentrating on a device known as a four-layer germanium diode (a switch with a very strong off state and a correspondingly weak on state), which had only a wisp of a chance at commercial success. Noyce, Hoerni, and most of their colleagues believed that they ought to be working on silicon transistors, which had much greater commercial promise.

By the summer of 1957, Noyce, Hoerni, and six other scientists and engineers at the lab had had enough. Realizing that brainpower constituted the real assets of a semiconductor firm, they decided to go into business for themselves. The Fairchild Camera & Instrument Corporation of New York agreed to finance them, and Fairchild Semiconductor was born, moving into a large garage in Palo Alto while their new two-story concrete building, near the Shockley lab, was being completed. Although Fairchild’s founders had an equal say in the direction of the enterprise, Noyce’s confident, relaxed manner made him the most popular member of the group, and he became the company’s general manager. At that time, Fairchild and Shockley were the only semiconductor operations in the Santa Clara Valley, a sunny region of fruit farms about fifty miles south of San Francisco, now popularly known as Silicon Valley. A few large companies, such as IBM and General Electric, had divisions there, along with Hewlett-Packard, Raytheon Associates, and other homegrown outfits established by former Stanford students. The university encouraged graduates to set up companies in the area, offering them inexpensive, longterm leases on Stanford land.

“Unlike Shockley’s outfit, Fairchild Semiconductor concentrated on silicon transistors. In the late 1950s, the state of the art in transistors was the silicon mesa transistor (which had been invented by Bell Labs and which Jack Kilby had used in his ICs). It consisted of a tiny round plateau, or mesa, set above a surrounding base of silicon; a semicircular ring on top of the mesa served as the emitter, the transistor’s controlling component, with the surrounding plane acting as the collector. Mesa transistors, which were made through photolithography, etching, and diffusion (chemically doping the semiconductor with impurities), seemed to have a great deal of promise; but a significant drawback soon appeared. Since the mesas protruded from the wafers, the transistors were subject to contamination of all kinds, and the connecting wires tended to slip. You sometimes could short-circuit a mesa transistor merely by tapping on its container.

In late 1958 and early 1959, Jean Hoerni came up with a brilliant solution to the mesa’s problems. He diffused the mesa into the wafer; in other words, he chemically embedded the transistor’s various parts into a piece of silicon. The result was a completely flat transistor, one without any protruding parts. Then he coated the gadget with a thin layer of silicon dioxide, which insulated, or protected, the transistor much as rubber insulates wire. However, he coated the device in such a way that certain spots were left uncovered, creating convenient contact points for the wires. Although the wires jutted out, just as they did on the mesa transistor, Hoerni’s device was much better protected from contamination and slipped wires, and it was, therefore, much more reliable. Hoerni’s planar process was a great technical breakthrough, and it led directly to the invention of a commercially feasible IC.

“By early 1959, only one other piece was missing from the IC puzzle, and it was supplied by the Sprague Electric Company in North Adams, Massachusetts. The company’s research director, Kurt Lehovec, a Czech-born physicist who had immigrated to the United States after World War II, had been working on better ways to make alloy junction transistors (an advanced form of the transistor Shockley had invented). Lehovec devised an improved manufacturing process and that success inspired him to ponder the problem of how to build an IC – of how to isolate the components electrically. His solution was similar to one of Kilby’s: p-n junctions, which allow electricity to flow in one direction only.

“‘The idea was shamelessly simple,’ said Lehovec, now an engineering professor at the University of Southern California, “and I realized that it was important to file a patent on it immediately.” He had heard about Kilby’s work – and he had surmised that the Texan’s devices didn’t incorporate p-n junctions. (They did, but Kilby had made poor use of them.) Lehovec designed an IC whose components were separated by p-n junctions, and filed a patent application on 22 April 1959, six weeks after TI had gone public with Kilby’s invention. Lehovec’s IC wasn’t much better than Kilby’s, but he had hit upon the best way to isolate the components.

“Meanwhile, Noyce also was thinking about how to make an IC. In January 1959 – about a year after Hoerni had developed the planar process and about four months after Kilby had fashioned his first solid circuit – Noyce made his first notes on the subject in his lab journal. Six months later, he succeeded in developing an IC based on Hoerni’s planar process and Lehovec’s p-n junctions. As he recalled years later:

‘When this [the planar process] was accomplished, we had a silicon surface covered with one of the best insulators known to man, so you could etch holes through to make contact with the underlying silicon. Obviously, then, you had a whole bunch of transistors embedded in an insulating surface, and the next thing was that, instead of cutting them apart physically, you cut them apart electrically, added the other components you needed for circuits, and finally the interconnection wiring.

‘There were several techniques, but the main one was, basically, to build back-to-hack diodes [or p-n junctions] into the silicon between any two transistors so that no current could flow between the two in either direction. The other element you needed was a resistor, and it was relatively simple to make a diode-isolated piece of silicon that acts as a resistor. You now had resistors and transistors, and could start building logic circuits, which you could interconnect by evaporating metal on top of the insulating layer. [That was one of Noyce’s key innovations. By evaporating the connections onto the chip through a mask, he kept the IC flat.] So it was a progressive buildup of bits and pieces of the technology to make the entire thing possible.

‘It was a question of having these rather vague concepts of insulators, of isolation, of interconnection, and the photoengraving for the patterns, so that you drew on your bag of tricks to combine these elements to make the integrated circuit. There was no huge flashbulb flashing, but it was almost as if you sat down as a semiconductor physicist and asked, “How can I do this job?” There is no doubt in my mind that if the invention hadn’t arisen at Fairchild, it would have arisen elsewhere in the very near future. It was an idea whose time had come, where the technology had developed to the point where it was viable.’

“Noyce’s IC was an elegant little device. Based on the planar process, it had no protruding parts. Instead of vertical contact wires, it used horizontal ones, snaking around the face of the chip. And instead of isolating components by shaping the chip, it used p-n junctions. Above all, it lent itself to mass production and almost unlimited refinement. Noyce’s IC was the right approach” (

The first patent to be awarded for integrated circuits went to Noyce on April 25, 1961, and Fairchild was the first company to introduce the new circuits into the market. But by October Texas Instruments, which had been turning out individual circuits by hand, produced an array of silicon circuits the size of a grain of rice that contained two dozen transistors along with the other necessary components” (Science and its Times).

“In 1968 [Fairchild co-founder Gordon] Moore and Noyce left Fairchild Semiconductor with the dream of creating a company that specialized in developing integrated circuits for the computer industry. They called their venture Integrated Electronics, which is now more commonly known as Intel. At Intel, engineers developed a microchip that could store computer language (ones and zeroes) and introduced its first random access computer (RAM) memory chip in 1970. After that advancement, the first microprocessor quickly followed. Noyce also made his mark as an innovative manager with an easygoing style that encouraged creative solutions to problems” (IEEE Global History Network).

“President John F. Kennedy’s (1917-1963) call to put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade created a market for the integrated circuit overnight—nowhere would the advantages of miniaturization be more welcome than aboard spacecraft. Electronics companies such as Motorola and Westinghouse rushed to catch up with pioneers Fairchild and Texas Instruments. Business Week magazine announced an ‘impending revolution in the electronics industry.’

“That revolution has indeed occurred. Integrated circuits have enhanced our lives in countless ways. The microelectronics industry, to which integrated circuits gave birth, has created millions of jobs. Computers that once would have occupied a space the size of a house have become small, available, and cheap enough for almost anyone to own. Machines run more cleanly and efficiently, medical technology saves lives, and banks the world over exchange money through electronic networks, all thanks to integrated circuits. In poorer countries, technologies built on integrated circuits have decreased the cost of capital investment required for industrialization and development, allowing those countries to compete in the global marketplace.

“We have adjusted very quickly to the microelectronics revolution. Washing machines, digital clocks and watches, the scoreboard in a ballpark, the bar code on your groceries, and the collar that lets only your cat to go in and out of its catflap are just a few of the mundane applications of integrated circuits that we take for granted every day.

“Microelectronics is about information—ever-increasing amounts of information. And the ability of integrated circuits to store and process this information has redefined the meaning of power. Who controls information, who has access to it, how much it costs, and the uses to which people put it are questions that bear more and more on the conduct of our private and public lives” (Science and its Times).

“Noyce was richly rewarded for his accomplishments. In addition to acquiring great wealth he was the recipient of 16 patents, the National Medal of Science, the National Medal of Technology, the IEEE Medal of Honor, and the Charles Draper Prize of the National Academy of Engineering. Noyce was also highly regarded by his peers who respected his technical brilliance and admired his gracious personality.

“Noyce died unexpectedly of a heart attack in June 1990 at the age of 62” (IEEE Global History Network).

Jack Kilby shared the Nobel Prize in Physics 2000 “for his part in the invention of the integrated circuit.” In his Nobel Lecture, he mentions a small number of people whose work contributed to the success of integrated circuits, mentioning Noyce three times. Many believe that Noyce would have shared the prize had he lived.

Berlin, The man behind the microchip: Robert Noyce and the invention of Silicon Valley, 2006. Robert Noyce, IEEE Global History Network, 2008 (

Folio (277 x 195 mm), pp. [6, the last blank], with three leaves of diagrams printed on rectos only.

Item #6003

Price: $250,000.00

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