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Isy Haas

  • Born: June 18, 1934, Istanbul, Turkey

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0661
Interview Dates: June 24, 2010 and June 25, 2010
Location: By Phone,
Interviewer: David C. Brock
No. of pages: 101
Minutes: 241

  Abstract of Interview

Isy Haas was born in Istanbul, Turkey.  He and his parents were Jewish and Polish citizens, not automatically Turkish.  They spoke French and German until World War II, when they ceased speaking German.  Haas attended a French Catholic grade school and the English High School for Boys.  He was always interested in physics, and at Robert College, where he graduated summa cum laude, he settled on electrical engineering.

Experiencing Turkish anti-Semitism, Haas wanted to go to the United States.  He matriculated into Princeton University, where he obtained a master’s degree in engineering, though his classes were mostly in physics and mathematics.  His mentor and advisor was George Warfield, who recognized Haas’s “feel” for the way things happen or work, his “physical intuition.”  One summer he worked for IBM, where he first became interested in computers.

Haas accepted a job at Remington Rand Univac in Philadelphia, working on positive-gap diodes under Josh Gray.  Haas obtained his first patents there.  Remington helped him gain his permanent residence, important because the military was his field’s main customer.  He left the Northeast for California, where he went to Fairchild Camera and Instrument (later Fairchild Semiconductor); there he worked with Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce, Victor Grinich, and Jay Last.  Calling himself a “cynical circuit designer,” Haas preferred evaluating devices.  He developed Avalanche switching and wrote “a few” papers on four-layer diodes.

When Last founded Amelco Corporation, Haas left Fairchild for Amelco and stayed there about seven years, including the years after Amelco was incorporated into Teledyne Technologies.  He worked with Lionel Kattner on diffusion, and they evolved a proof of principle for diffused isolation.  Haas designed and evaluated most of the integrated circuits originating at Teledyne.  Assuming Last’s position when Last left, Haas became knowledgeable in many aspects of design and evaluation.  He spent a year trying (unsuccessfully) to raise capital for his own company and then went into consulting. 

At the end of the interview Haas discusses his patent for a two-collector transistor; Teledyne’s military work; and the sources and development of equipment and materials.  He talks more about Sheldon Roberts and Lionel Kattner.  He explains how his move to Chandler, Arizona, improved the quality of his life.  He concludes the interview talking about his work on MOS devices for General Instrument Corporation, which finally convinced him that he wanted to be his own boss.  He took up what he liked best and did best: developing integrated circuits of all kinds.  He had very little competition at first, so he did quite well.  Eventually the field expanded and computers were developed to aid with design and simulation.  Computers were too expensive for Haas at first, and a gradual decline in work led to his retirement.  Haas says he is now attentive to the stock market.

  Education

1955 Electrical Engineering, B.S., Robert College
1957 Engineering, M.S., Princeton University

  Professional Experience

IBM Research Labs, Poughkeepsie, New York

1955 - 1956

Superconductivity Research in Lead

Remington Rand Univac, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1957 - 1958

Circuit Design

Fairchild Semiconductor, Palo Alto, California

1958 - 1959

Device Evaluation

Fairchild Semiconductor, Palo Alto, California

1959 - 1961

Microcircuit Development

Amelco Corporation, Mountain View, California

1961 - 1966

Device Development

Amelco Corporation, Mountain View, California

1966 - 1968

Director, Research and Development

Inmet, Inc., Los Altos, California

1968 - 1978

President, IC Design

General Instruments, Inc., Chandler, Arizona

1978 - 1980

MOS Device Research

Semiconductor Engineering Corp., Inc., Tempe, Arizona

1980 - 2001

President, IC Design

  Honors

1955

Summa Cum Laude, Robert College

1956

Orson Desaix Fellow, Princeton University

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Early Years 1

Born in Istanbul, Turkey.  Family background.  Polish citizens, not Turkish. French Catholic grade school.  English high school.  Early interest in physics, eventually settling in to solid-state physics, and in electronics and servo control.

College Years 2

Attended Robert College in Istanbul.  Received BS, summa cum laude, in electrical engineering.  Anti-Semitism.  

Graduate School Years 8

Accepted into and given financial award by Princeton University.  Worked under George Warfield; thesis subject “hole mobility in silver chloride.”  Summer work at International Business Machines.  Obtained MS in engineering. 

Early Working Years 12

Difficulty finding work because of citizenship status and because of military and defense applications of solid-state physics.  Accepted job at Remington Rand Univac, working under Josh Gray.  Obtained some patents for work on positive-gap diodes.  Disliked Northeast; sought job in California.  Accepted position with Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation (later Fairchild Semiconductor). Worked with Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce, Victor Grinich; Jay Last his mentor and boss.  Device evaluation to design.  Avalanche switching.

Post-Fairchild Years 24

When Last founded Amelco Corporation, Haas left Fairchild for Amelco, stayed about seventeen years.  Worked with Lionel Kattner.  Obtained patent for inventing way around IR drops.  Amelco incorporated into Teledyne Technologies.  Proof of principle for diffused isolation.  Designed and evaluated most of integrated circuits originating at Teledyne.  Assumed Last’s position
when Last left; became knowledgeable in many aspects.  Spent a year trying to raise capital for his own company.  Went back to Teledyne.  Patent for two-collector transistor.  Discussion of Teledyne’s military work and of sources and development of equipment and materials.  Talks more about Sheldon Roberts
and Lionel Kattner.  Moved to Chandler, Arizona.  Discusses improved quality of life.  

Consultant Years 80

Wanted to work for himself, so took up consulting on integrated circuits of all kinds.  Had very little competition at first.  Worked fast.  Discusses advent of computers in association with design and simulation.  Expansion of the field.  

Index 91

  About the Interviewers

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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