Dan is joined by John East, the former CEO of Actel. In the sixth episode of Semiconductor Insiders John explained the beginnings of Fairchild Semiconductor and the significance of the Traitorous Eight.
In this follow-up discussion, John recounts the rise and fall of Fairchild Semiconductor. This is a turbulent and significant … Read More
Dan and Mike are joined by John East, a silicon valley industry veteran who takes you on a tour of the very foundation of Silicon Valley and venture capital. John explores the beginnings of these key parts of the world as we know it today and explains who the Traitorous Eight are and what role they played.
John East retired… Read More
Today people make chips with 10 billion transistors and no-one thinks anything of it. But there was a day (Or more correctly a decade) when we couldn’t make even one transistor reliably. How did we start there and get where we are today? Who were the players? What did they do? John East is a grizzled veteran of the semiconductor business.… Read More
In early 2003 Actel announced a new product family: RTSX-A. It was a family of antifuse FPGAs aimed at the satellite market. Customers had known for a long time that it was coming and there had been prototypes available for many months. Our space customers loved the product. This was going to be a big win for us! One of the first… Read More
In 1990 Xilinx notified us that they believed Actel was infringing a patent that had just been issued to them. My immediate thoughts – the patent system is all screwed up! Actel had been developing our product for five years. We had been shipping it for a year and a half. During all that time, we were totally unaware that there was … Read More
The foundry problem continued to plague us at Actel. We had a really complex process! But —- we needed state of the art feature sizes if we were to compete with Xilinx. TI and Matsushita had been doing a good job for us, but not in fabs with state of the art technology. We were two process generations behind! At two generations… Read More
By the late 80s it had become clear to me that the Japanese were right. Memories, Microprocessors, and Gate Arrays (As well as ASICs) were what customers wanted then. “Building blocks of ever-increasing complexity” was obsolete. What next? Should I try to become an overnight networking expert? Maybe a DSP expert? Pretty… Read More
My first meeting with Steve Jobs was in early 1987 when he was running NeXT Computer. I was a VP at AMD and was hunting for potential customers. I visited him in the NeXT Palo Alto facility with the objective of selling him some existing AMD products. He had a different objective: to get me to produce a new product that we had no plans… Read More
From time to time I give presentations to various audiences: Silicon Valley the Way I Saw It. I always enjoy doing that. One particular section always makes me stop and think. “Who was this guy? How did he do what he did? Why didn’t I do that? “What made him so special?” It’s the Steve Jobs section. I met twice with Steve Jobs when … Read More
The “20 Questions with John East” series continues
How did it end for Fairchild? Badly!!!
In 1966 Fairch was the number one supplier of integrated circuits. That was as it should have been. After all, Fairch had invented the IC. But in 1967 TI passed them. Still, Fairch remained a strong #2. By the time that the mid-seventies… Read More