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The Traitorous Eight, AKA, the Shockley Eight and the "Fairchild Eight" left Shockley Semiconductor en masse in 1957 and started their own company, Fairchild Semiconductor. They were among some of the most brilliant scientists and engineers of the day. The had all come to Palo Alto, CA in 1955 to work for William Shockley, co-inventor of the transistor. The plan was to manufacture advanced semiconductor devices using silicon. Although Shockley was a brilliant physicist he was not a good business manager. His fame had drawn highly talented people but he couldn't keep them there.

Shockley left Bell Labs in 1955 with hopes of making a million dollars and seeing his name in the The Wall Street Journal. He looked up an old friend in Southern California, Arnold Beckman who owned Beckman Instruments and who agreed to finance the start-up. Frederick Terman of Stanford helped him find some of the top people in their fields. Shockley Semiconductor was the first company in what was to be known as Silicon Valley.

A couple other key employees left on their own around the same time but the eight decided to stay together because they had enjoyed working together and made a good team. Not long after they left, Shockley had to shut down. But the team that he put together went on to start the semiconductor revolution and Silicon Valley.

The Traitorous Eight and what they were doing when Shockley called:

  • Julius Blank - Mechanical engineer for Western Electric in New Jersey

  • Jean Hoerni - Ph.D in physics from Cambridge University and the University of Geneva, doing research at Cal Tech

  • Eugene Kleiner - Mechanical engineer for Western Electric in New Jersey

  • Gordon Moore - Ph.D in Physical chemistry working at Johns Hopkins in its Applied Physics Laboratory

  • Robert Noyce - Ph.D in physics from MIT working at Philco making high fequency transistors


Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson. Crystal Fire. New York. W.W.Norton & Company, 1997
Martin Groeger. Shockley Semiconductor (http://www.silicon-valley-story.de/sv/shockley.html)
Leslie Jaye Goff. Commentary from three of the Fairchild Eight (http:www.computerworld.com/printthis/1999/0,4814,27429,00.html)

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