When you go to the Google homepage today, some of you may recognize the microchip, whose co-inventor, Robert Noyce, is the subject of today's Google doodle.
Noyce died in 1990 at the age of 62, but the doodle honors this, the day he was born, as the beginning of a life and career that saw Noyce acquire the mantle of unofficial mayor of Silicon Valley as he reigned over two giants that would have a pivotal place in tech history: Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel.
As seen in the bio that appears on PBS, Noyce's humble beginnings as the son of a preacher man in Iowa led to Grinnell College, where he became a physics major. Even then, Noyce was a leader, who would occasionally be responsible for pranks like stealing pigs for a college luau. That was a close call, where he narrowly escaped being expelled, but he survived and thrived, making it to MIT for his Ph.D in 1948, where he continued his study of transistors.
At the age of 29, Noyce founded Fairchild Semiconductor. Here, he invented the integrated chip, which "are used in almost all electrical equipment in use today, and they have revolutionized the world of electronics," according to the Inventor Now Hall of Fame. "The invention was a major improvement over the manual assembly of electric circuits, and mass production made electronic devices cheaper and more common."
In 1968, he and Gordon Moore left Fairchild to found Intel, which oversaw Ted Hoff's invention of the microprocessor, the second major revolution for Noyce. This was the first time there was a central processing unit encompassed within one chip. It's safe to say we wouldn't be writing this so efficiently were it not for Noyce's vision and leadership.
Noyce's legacy also lives on in the Noyce Foundation, which focuses on "improving instruction in math, science, and early literacy in public schools."
Today's doodle isn't animated, but considering where Noyce's achievements have led us, you can see how technology he developed gets used for much more complex doodles: the dancing Martha Graham-inspired piece, the animated interpretation of John Lennon's "Imagine," and the playable/recordable Les Paul guitar.
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