More Actel Foundry Woes: Andy Grove and Intel

More Actel Foundry Woes: Andy Grove and Intel
by John East on 09-16-2019 at 6:00 am

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


From AMD to Actel (to Microchip)

From AMD to Actel (to Microchip)
by John East on 09-02-2019 at 6:00 am

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


More Steve Jobs, Apple, and NeXT Computer

More Steve Jobs, Apple, and NeXT Computer
by John East on 08-19-2019 at 6:00 am

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


Fairchild’s Death March

Fairchild’s Death March
by John East on 07-22-2019 at 6:00 am

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


The Wilf Corrigan Fairchild P&L Review

The Wilf Corrigan Fairchild P&L Review
by John East on 07-15-2019 at 6:00 am

The “20 Questions with John East” series continues

In 1973 plus or minus a year or so I was working as a supervising engineer in one of the bipolar digital product groups.  My boss was a man named Jerry Secrest.  He was a great boss – he taught me most of what I knew about ICs in my youth. Jerry had responsibility for a product line.  That… Read More


Texas Instruments and the TTL Wars

Texas Instruments and the TTL Wars
by John East on 07-08-2019 at 8:00 am

The “20 Questions with John East” series continues

Most people in the IC business understand very well that TTL products dominated our industry for 30 years or so.  They’ll also probably know that TI was the king of TTL. But,  if you ask those people what TTL is,   most won’t have any idea.  If you’re one of those people, rest easy.  … Read More


Layoffs à la Fairchild

Layoffs à la Fairchild
by John East on 07-01-2019 at 5:00 am

The “20 Questions with John East” series continues

You wouldn’t think that layoffs would be a subject that I’d want to talk about in my stories of  “Silicon Valley the Way I saw it.”  The subject is just plain distasteful!!  — Still  — layoffs were a major part of the valley’s culture back in the day.  To give a true picture… Read More


1971 is the year that Intel changed the world

1971 is the year that Intel changed the world
by John East on 06-24-2019 at 5:00 am

The “20 Questions with John East” series continues

From time to time I present the History of Silicon Valley as I saw it to various audiences.  I always enjoy doing that.  I’ve learned that the part that audiences like the most is the Apple / Steve Jobs story.  That’s not hard to understand.  Steve Jobs was truly fascinating! The story… Read More


The Genius Sperm Bank

The Genius Sperm Bank
by John East on 06-03-2019 at 5:00 am

The “20 Questions with John East” series continues

How did it happen?  How did Fairchild transform over a decade into the “off with their heads” culture?  To understand that, you need to know a little about the William Shockley story. William Shockley was born in London in 1910.  He moved to Silicon Valley when he was 3.  Of course,… Read More


20 Questions with John East

20 Questions with John East
by John East on 05-21-2019 at 10:00 am

John East retired from Actel Corporation in November 2010 in conjunction with the transaction in which Actel was purchased by Microsemi Corporation.  He had served as the CEO of Actel for 22 years at the time of his retirement.  Previously, he was a senior vice president of AMD, where he was responsible for the Logic Products Group.… Read More