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Arthur Rock

  • Born: August 19, 1926, Rochester, New York

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0265
Interview Date: October 9, 2002
Location: San Francisco, California
Interviewer: David C. Brock
No. of pages: 29
Sponsor: Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation
Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

Arthur Rock begins the interview with a discussion of his family and educational background. In 1944, Rock joined the United States Army. After World War II, Rock attended Syracuse University, and then continued on to Harvard Business School. After his schooling, Rock began to work on Wall Street and discovered that he had an interest and affinity for business in technology. At Hayden Stone and Company he worked in the corporate department to establish technological companies such as General Transistor. In the late 1950s, Rock received a letter from Eugene Kleiner that sparked his interest. He met the "Traitorous Eight," from Shockley Semiconductor and the wheels of venture capitalism were set in motion. Rock's ambitions for the group were so radical that thirty-five companies declined them financial backing before Sherman Fairchild invested what was needed to start Fairchild Semiconductor. Afterwards, in 1961, Rock moved from his home in New York to San Francisco, where he formed Davis & Rock, a firm that lasted for seven years, with Thomas Davis. This pioneering venture capital firm met with great success, creating other semiconductor firms, such as Teledyne Technologies, Inc. Rock reflects on the growing connection between semiconductors and computers and then the decision of Robert N. Noyce and Gordon E. Moore to leave Fairchild in order to form Intel Corporation, of which he was the first chairman of the board of directors. Rock concludes the interview by reflecting on his own innovations.


1948 B.S., Finance and Political Science, Syracuse University
1951 M.B.A. Harvard Business School

  Professional Experience

Vick Chemical Company

1948 - 1949 Employee, Accounting Department

Wertheim and Company

1951 - 1956 Employee

Hayden, Stone, & Company

1956 - 1961 Employee

Davis & Rock

1961 - 1968 General Partner

Teledyne, Inc.

1961 - 1994 Director

Scientific Data Systems, Inc.

1962 - 1969 Chairman of the Board

Arthur Rock and Company

1968 Founder and Principal

Intel Corporation

1968 - 1974 Chairman of the Board

Intel Corporation

1968 - 1999 Director

Intel Corporation

1974 - 1980 Vice Chairman of the Board

Apple Computer, Inc.

1980 - 1993 Director

Air Touch Communications

1994 - 1999 Director


1987 Medal of Achievement, American Electronics Association and the American Academy of Achievement
1995 California Business Hall of Fame
1997 Arents Pioneer Medal, Syracuse University
1999 Lifetime Achievement in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Award, University of California
1999 Private Equity Hall of Fame
2001 Visionary Award, Software Development Forum
2002 Business Leader of the Year, Harvard Business School Association of Northern California

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Early Life, Education, and Career Path 1

Family background. Attending Syracuse University after World War II. Work at Vick Chemical Company. Enrolling in Harvard Business School. Motivation and interests throughout schooling. Work in the corporate department of Hayden Stone and Company. Receipt of letter from Eugene Kleiner leading to meeting with the "Treacherous Eight" and the creation of Fairchild Semiconductor.

A Good Move: Finding Venture Capital Possibilities on the West Coast 10

Moving from New York to California. The innovative formation and implications of Davis & Rock during the 1960s. Creation of Teledyne and key people in that company. The growing connection between semiconductors and computers. Inclusion of members of the "Treacherous Eight" in Davis & Rock.

The Origination of Intel Corporation 15

Robert Noyce's decision to leave Fairchild Camera and Instrument. Overview of the formation of Intel. Strategy and detail on raising the capital necessary for the company. Position as first chairman of the board and the primary concerns of a pioneering company. The decision against manufacturing computers.

Conclusion 22

Involvement with other semiconductor and computer firms through the 1970s and 1980s. The shifting yet effective governing structure of Intel. New venture capital competition and the growing field. Comments on "Rock's Law." Relationship with Gordon Moore. Reflection on business innovations.

Index 27

  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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