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Led by physicist Robert Noyce, Fairchild Semiconductor began as a start-up company whose radical innovations would help make the United States a leader in both space exploration and the personal computer revolution, changing the way the world works, plays, and communicates. Noyce's invention of the microchip ultimately re-shaped the future, launching the world into the Information Age.
For Season 25 of American Experience, exclusive corporate funding is provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance, major funding by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS stations.
As an undergraduate student, Robert Noyce sees the technical reports on the brand new transistor and knew he was looking at the future. "The concept hit me like the atom bomb," he later recalled. But he does not like the structure of the large East Coast tech companies.
During the early days of Silicon Valley, physicists and engineers from various companies in the valley would meet at "The Wagon Wheel," a hangout for Fairchild employees and for people who worked at Fairchild spin-off companies. As one Fairchild employee put it, the Wagon Wheel was a hub of networking.
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