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Harry Sello

Harry Sello

CHF Collections, Photograph by Douglas Lockard

  • Born: March 20, 1921, Chernihiv, Ukraine

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0300
Interview Dates: November 4, 2004 and January 7, 2005 and March 16, 2005
Location: Menlo Park, California
Interviewers: David C. Brock and Christophe Lécuyer
No. of pages: 209
Sponsor: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

Harry Sello begins the first interview with a review of his childhood which included emigration from Russia and a strong emphasis on education in his household. Sello quickly became interested in chemistry and completed undergraduate work in organic chemistry before applying this knowledge to his Ph.D. research on the rearrangement of single molecules at the University of Missouri. He completed service in the United States Navy and modeled scaling-up procedures of flammable compounds at Shell Development Company. William Shockley recruited him to Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, from which he departed on suspicion of connection to the founders of Fairchild Semiconductor. At Shockley and then at Fairchild, Sello worked on a variety of chemical aspects of semiconductor manufacturing. At Fairchild Semiconductor, Sello concentrated on the transfer of silicon transistor technology to Societa Generale Semiconduttore in Italy, negotiating cultural and industrial boundaries. Sello remained with Fairchild Semiconductor during its decline, reorganizing research and production. In 1980, he began Harry Sello Associates after Fairchild Semiconductor was sold to Schlumberger Exploration. Sello concludes the interview with reflections on his current role as an expert witness.


1942 A.B., Chemistry, University of Illinois
1944 M.A., Physical Chemistry, University of Missouri
1948 Ph.D., Physical Chemistry, University of Missouri

  Professional Experience

Shell Development Corporation

1948 - 1956 Research Chemist

Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory

1956 - 1959 Senior Staff

Fairchild Semiconductor Research and Development, Palo Alto, California

1959 - 1981 Head of pre-production engineering section, Semiconductor Research Laboratory

Fairchild Semiconductor Research and Development, Palo Alto, California

1962 - 1964

Operations Manager, Società Generale Semiconduttori

Fairchild Semiconductor Research and Development, Palo Alto, California

1966 - 1967 Manager of Materials and Processes Department, Semiconductor Research Lab

Fairchild Semiconductor Research and Development, Palo Alto, California

1967 - 1968 Technical Planning Director, Research Laboratory

Fairchild Semiconductor Research and Development, Palo Alto, California

1968 - 1980 Technical Director, International Marketing Division

Harry Sello and Associates, Menlo Park, California

1980 - Present President


1944 Pi Mu Epsilon, Mathematics Honorary
1948 Sigma Xi, National Research Honorary
1976 Chairman, International Committee, American Electronics Association
1982 Chairman, International Committee, American Electronics Association
1990 Export Executive of the Year, Northern California District Office, U.S. Department of Commerce

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Childhood and Early Education 1

Family History. Great Depression Era. Relationship with Father. Relationship with Mother. Pastimes. High School Interest in Chemistry. Wright Junior College. Student Employment. Laboratory Work. University of Illinois. Organic Chemistry. World War II Draft. Encouragement for Graduate School.

Graduate Years 31

University of Missouri. Worth H. Rodebush. George Vineyard. Master's thesis on Penacol Compounds. Service in the U.S. Navy. Ph.D. Thesis. Shell Development Company.

Shell Development Company 49

Process Development Department. Scaling Up of Flammable Material. Equipment Modification. William B. Shockley. Tempest in a Text Tube Television Program. High School Teaching. Photolithography.

Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory 62

Psychological Testing. William Shockley. Photolithography. Management Style of William Shockley. Transistor Packaging. Coworkers. Chih-Tang Sah. Jean A. Hoerni. Personnel Management Issues. Founding of Fairchild Semiconductor. Maurice Hanafin. Silicon Wafer Diffusion. Bell Telephone Laboratories.

Fairchild Semiconductor 77

Four-Layer Diode. Role at Fairchild Semiconductor. Gordon E. Moore. Pre-production. Work in Italy. NPN Transistor. Transfer of Technology. Germanium Transistor in Europe. Societa Generale Semiconduttore. Materials and Processes. Electromigration. Research and Development. Soviet Semiconductor Market. Germanium Transistor. W. Jerry Sanders. National Semiconductor.

Fairchild Semiconductor after Intel Corporation 165

Research and Development. Loss of Gordon E. Moore and Robert N. Noyce. Technical Planning. Partnership with Societa Generale Semiconduttore. International Business. Licensing. Revenue. Bipolar and Integrated Circuits. Schlumberger Exploration. Decline of Fairchild Semiconductor. Harry Sello and Associates.

Index 202

  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.

Christophe Lécuyer

Christophe Lécuyer is a graduate of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, and he received a Ph.D. in history from Stanford University. He was a fellow of the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology and has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the University of Virginia. Before becoming a senior research fellow at CHF, Lécuyer was the program manager of the electronic materials department. He has published widely on the history of electronics, engineering education, and medical and scientific instruments, and is the author of Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930–1970 (2005).

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