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Robert T. Jenkins

  • Born: 1943

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0364
Interview Dates: May 9, 2007 and July 24, 2007
Locations: Los Altos, California; and Discovery Bay, California
Interviewer: David C. Brock
No. of pages: 108
Minutes: 314
Sponsor: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

Robert T. Jenkins (Ted) grew up in Glendale, California, the suburb of Los Angeles in which his parents and grandparents had also grown up. His father was a welder, and Ted always liked to help him with his work. Together they built a swimming pool in their back yard. Jenkins also loved ham radio and cannot remember when he was not interested in electricity. He earned both his BS in engineering (there were no divisions within engineering at the time) and his MS from California Institute of Technology. While he was there he worked in the lab of Carver Mead, his advisor, and took a comprehensive business course from Horace Gilbert.

While Jenkins was in the lab Gordon Moore came to talk to Carver Mead, recruiting likely students for his company, Fairchild Semiconductor. He told Jenkins about his bipolar power transistor, and Ted became very interested. He went right from his master's degree to Fairchild, beginning in the process end of the linear integrated circuit group in Research and Development. All new employees were required to take a technology course at Fairchild, taught by Andrew Grove, Edward Snow, and Leslie Vadasz; Jenkins calls it "better than a PhD." At Fairchild, Jenkins and Garth Wilson developed and patented Schottky-barrier diode processes and devices. Half seriously, Carver Mead called the Schottky diode the Jenkins diode. Jenkins later used a Schottky diode in the design of Intel's first product, the i3101 64-bit TTL compatible RAM. Introduced in 1969, the device was nearly twice as fast as earlier TTL products.

When Jenkins had been at Fairchild for about two years, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore left to found their own company, Noyce-Moore Electronics (or Moore-Noyce, which they thought sounded too much like "more noise," an inauspicious name for an electronics company), whose name they changed to Intel (INTegrated ELectronics) later that year. Moore recruited a number of others from Fairchild, including Jenkins, who came in originally to help develop blue LED. He held a number of positions, working on wafers, until he was made manager of peripherals manufacturing. Intel's first product used Jenkins' Schottky diode, which doubled the speed and reduced the power consumed. Soon thereafter Jenkins became general manager of the whole peripheral components division. From there he moved to become a vice president and the general manager of the memory components division. He selected the Folsom site, within a day's drive from Santa Clara, for new fabrication plants, and explains that the Oregon site was chosen because it was not on the San Andreas Fault line. He spent his last ten years at Intel as a vice president and as director of corporate licensing. After retiring from Intel he reentered the academic world, becoming an adjunct professor at California State University at Sacramento and joining the Board of Trustees of California Institute of Technology.


1965 B.S. California Institute of Technology
1966 M.S. California Institute of Technology

  Professional Experience

Fairchild Semiconductor Research and Development Laboratories

1966 - 1967 Process Engineer

Intel Corporation

1968 - 1979 Variety of positions in Wafer Fabrication

Intel Corporation

1979 Manager, Microprocessor/Peripheral Manufacturing

Intel Corporation

1980 - 1985 General Manager, Peripheral Components Division

Intel Corporation

1986 - 1989 Vice President and General Manager, Memory Components Division

Intel Corporation

1990 - 1999 Vice President and Director, Corporate Licensing

Intel Corporation

1996 - 1999 Chairman, Government Affairs Committee

California State University, Sacramento

2000 - Present Adjunct Professor, Communication Studies


Chairman, Board of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Early and College Years 1

Lived in Glendale, California, ancestral home town. Helped his father, a welder, with any projects he was allowed to. Helped build swimming pool in back yard. Always liked physics and chemistry in school. Loved ham radio; mourned the demise of Morse code. Attended California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for both bachelor's and master's degrees. Worked in Carver Mead's laboratory. Decided against PhD, instead being recruited right into Fairchild Semiconductor by Gordon Moore.

Fairchild Semiconductor Years 6

Received equivalent of Ph.D. education from technology course at Fairchild, course taught by Andrew Grove, and from practical experience. Patented applications of Schottky diode.

Starting at Intel 17

Recruited by Gordon Moore to Noyce-Moore Electronics, later called Intel; developed blue LED. Worked with IBM on early microprocessor chips. Microprocessor originally "good for traffic signals;" needed applications and software.

Fabrication Plants and Competition 40

In charge of three fabs. Selected Folsom site. Became general manager of memory division. Trade agreement with Japan kept Intel competitive. From DRAM to EPROM to flash memory. Out of flash memory into licensing.

Reflections on Grove, Moore, and Intel 85

Discussion of personalities of Andrew Grove and Gordon Moore. Discussion of Intel culture. Discussion of Intel's stock appreciation, number of patents.

Index 97

  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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