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William H. Davidow

  • Born: April 6, 1935, Reading, Pennsylvania

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0362
Interview Date: May 8, 2007
Location: Palo Alto, California
Interviewer: David C. Brock
No. of pages: 29
Minutes: 76
Sponsor: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

William H. Davidow begins the interview by describing his early interest in science andtechnology. After a five-year program and obtaining his M.S. in electrical engineering atDartmouth College, Davidow decided to pursue science over business and enrolled in theCalifornia Institute of Technology. After obtaining his M.S. at Caltech and his Ph.D. atStanford University, Davidow worked at General Electric on peripheral devices. Davidowrealized that his talent was in marketing rather than science, and moved on to marketingpositions. After working at Hewlett-Packard and Signetics Memory Systems, Davidow movedto Intel and became responsible for marketing of its microprocessor development systems.Eventually Davidow was charged with running the microprocessor division, and embarked on amassive marketing campaign called "Operation Crush." After the success of Operation CrushDavidow moved to work in Intel's marketing and sales division; this is the time period duringwhich increasing Japanese competition forced Intel to withdraw from the memory business andfocus of microprocessors. Davidow concludes the interview by offering his thoughts onMoore's Law, interactions and philanthropic work associated with Moore, and the impactGordon Moore has had on Davidow's life.


1957 A.B., Electrical Engineering, Dartmouth College
1958 M.S., Electrical Engineering, Dartmouth College
1959 M.S., Electrical Engineering, California Institute of Technology
1961 Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, Stanford University

  Professional Experience

General Electric Company

1961 - 1965 Manager, Peripheral Equipment Laboratory

Hewlett-Packard Company

1965 - 1969 Manager, Marketing and Sales

Signetics Memory Systems

1969 - 1973 Vice President, Marketing

Intel Corporation

1973 - 1985

Vice President, Microcomputer Division; Vice President, Microcomputer Systems division; Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales

Mohr Davidow Ventures

1985 - present

Founding General Partner

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Family History and Education 1

Early interest in science and technology. Decision to attend Dartmouth College. Sputnik and decision to become a scientist. Master's degree at California Institute of Technology. Ph.D. work at Stanford University.

Early Career 2

Peripheral devices research at General Electric. Marketing work for Hewlett-Packard. Time at Signetics Memory Systems.

Career at Intel Corporation 3

Running marketing for the microprocessor development systems. Decision to keep Intel operating system in-house. Working for Edward Gelbach. Working with Leslie Vadasz to develop microprocessor systems. Thought on roles of Gordon Moore, Andrew Grove, and Robert Noyce within Intel.

Career development at Intel 9

Being in charge of the microprocessor division. Operation Crush. Working in the sales and marketing division. Japanese competition and Intel withdrawing from the memory business. Push for Intel allocations in Asia.

Thoughts on Gordon Moore 17

Thoughts on Moore's Law. Interactions with Gordon Moore after leaving Intel. Moore's philanthropic work. Impact of Gordon Moore. Interactions with various Intel executives.

Index 20

  About the Interviewer

David C. Brock

David C. Brock is a senior research fellow with the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. As a historian of science and technology, he specializes in the history of semiconductor science, technology, and industry; the history of instrumentation; and oral history. Brock has studied the philosophy, sociology, and history of science at Brown University, the University of Edinburgh, and Princeton University.

In the policy arena Brock recently published Patterning the World: The Rise of Chemically Amplified Photoresists, a white-paper case study for the Center’s Studies in Materials Innovation. With Hyungsub Choi he is preparing an analysis of semiconductor technology roadmapping, having presented preliminary results at the 2009 meeting of the Industry Studies Association.

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