00:00:00THACKRAY: We'd like to begin at City College [of New York], because you've
written extensively about the time before that. We're also curious about what
you were doing as a student from the chemical engineering point of view. You won
the AIChE [American Institute of Chemical Engineers] award for the best student
paper. Is that what helped cement your interest in fluid dynamics? How did that work?
GROVE: It was amassed along the way. My interest in fluid dynamics started by my
00:01:00becoming acquainted with, and being employed by, professor Harvey L. List, who
happened to be interested in fluidized beds. I worked part time for the
[chemical engineering] department as an assistant, and some of my work had to do
with Harvey List. I was fascinated by the behavior of fluidized beds. I wrote an
undergraduate thesis, which was an unusual thing to do.
THACKRAY: At City College, how many of the students had those sorts of positions?
00:02:00GROVE: Just me. The chemical engineering department had essentially only one
job. It was a well-paying job--either $1.69 or $1.79 an hour, and all the other
student jobs were $1.00 an hour. That made a difference. I didn't realize going
into it, however, that exposure to people like professor Schmidt [Alois X.
Schmidt] and Harvey List would actually have a long-term impact on, in the first
case, who I became, and in the second case, what I became. I liked unit
operations, if that phrase is meaningful. It is the least chemical of chemical
00:03:00engineering. I liked fluidized beds and their behavior. All of this suggests
fluid dynamics. Yet I'm ahead of the timeline here. I wanted to go to California
and through the influence of another gentleman, Morris Kolodney, professor
Kolodney, who was my faculty advisor--that part is in the book. They are both
still alive. I saw [List] a number of years ago and he looked disgustingly the
same. All of us show our age; but Harvey, who has got to be ten or fifteen years
00:04:00older than I, looked younger than me. They each had a bit of momentum imparting
into the pattern. Kolodney was sending me to California; Harvey was sending me
to fluid dynamics; Schmidt was turning me into an asshole. [laughter]
THACKRAY: Extend that one.
GROVE: Toughness. He legitimized a kind of brusque, no-nonsense behavior which I
had no trouble adopting. Polite company frowned on those traits, but Schmidt
practiced them: I thought if he can do it, I could do it too. That comes later
in my career. The problem is that the interests in California and in fluid
dynamics were not obviously converging. I did not realize for a while that
Berkeley [University of California, Berkeley] had a fluid dynamics program in
the form of Andy [Andreas] Acrivos. I wanted to go to Berkeley and I wanted to
00:05:00do fluid dynamics, and it was only some time into the process that I realized
that Acrivos was somebody to reckon with. The family of chemical engineering and
fluid dynamics is [the University of] Pittsburgh, Wisconsin [University,
Madison]--I didn't want to go there--Michigan [State University], but not
Berkeley. I first verified that I liked California by getting a summer job at a
00:06:00Quonset Hut research lab associated with Tidewater [Associated] Oil [Company]
refineries in Martinez, California.
THACKRAY: I thought we'd somehow find you with a refinery, with catalytic
cracking, thinking of your interest in fluidized beds.
GROVE: No, it wasn't much to do with that. It was doing whatever the job needed
at ten o'clock on Wednesday morning. They told me at 9:45 on Wednesday morning
what I would do, but it was in California.
GROVE: Martinez. It's a sleepy little town near Concord. It's a little north--it
was actually the first capital of California a hundred years ago. Concord became
big and prosperous, and Martinez remained a refinery town. Tidewater was
00:07:00eventually acquired, but I didn't follow them. We moved out here in the summer
before I graduated, between my third and fourth years at City College. My wife
[Eva Kaston] and I drove fourteen thousand miles, including three thousand out,
three thousand back, and eight thousand during the summer discovering California
and that I wanted to live here. The next thing was getting admitted to Berkeley.
Getting acquainted with Acrivos was the task of the next year. The first one
happened and then I met Acrivos and he scared the shit out of me. He was very
00:08:00soft spoken and very--he intimidated me--esoteric. He frightened all the other
students. When I said to somebody that I wanted to work with Acrivos, their
response was, "My God, you're not very good in math," which I wasn't. That's how
THACKRAY: Let's go back to City College for a minute. How large was the
graduating class of chemical engineers?
GROVE: The total engineering class was four hundred sixty. Out of that the
chemical engineering graduates must have been forty or fifty.
THACKRAY: What were the other chemical engineers doing typically?
GROVE: They went to work for DuPont [E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company,
Inc.]--unless they were Jewish, in which case they went to work for Allied
00:09:00Chemical [Company] or Pfizer [International]. DuPont was still reputed to be--
THACKRAY: "White shoe," or something.
GROVE: Right. Some years later when a guy called Shapiro [Irving S. Shapiro]
became the CEO [chief executive officer] I couldn't believe my eyes.
THACKRAY: Were many going to graduate school?
GROVE: Not many, but some. It's a very interesting question. It's now forty-four
years after the fact so that my memory may not be precise. As departmental
assistants we kept references and records and statistics so I knew the files and
00:10:00knew the history of previous graduates pretty well. The interesting thing was
that the best students didn't necessarily go on to graduate school because the
best students weren't necessarily able to afford to go to graduate school. The
City College economic experience did not extend once you moved. For most people,
if you lived at home and commuted, school was practically free as compared to
going to MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], which was the school of
choice for City College chemical engineering graduates. If you had to move
someplace, you had to pay for residence and tuition. There was no correspondence
to the best students going on to graduate school. If I take a stratum--in my
00:11:00recollection--of the best five to ten students, I'm pretty sure that half of
them went on to graduate school.
In my class, after about ten years or so when I got an award from City College,
a number of them turned up. One of them got a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and
remained in classical petrochemical engineering. One of them did not go to
graduate school and became a CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] analyst. It was a
radical thing to do at the time! [laughter] I tried to move one of them out to
Fairchild [Semiconductor] after I started working there, but he had family
00:12:00obligations. He was the second or third best student. I went on to graduate
school and the next two didn't. That's how I remember it in my class.
THACKRAY: Was it a "no-brainer" that you would do that?
GROVE: Graduate school? No. Let me quote my witness on this one: I met my wife
after my first semester at City College, and she still remembers that my
original intent was to get out of school as fast as I could, go to work, make
some money, bring my parents over here, and never did graduate school enter the
00:13:00picture. That was probably 1957. The picture changed as a result of my
experience as a departmental assistant and my unit operations course.
I really liked distillation, column designs, combinations of mechanical design
with fluid flow, and separation. I really warmed up to that, remember, I went
into chemistry by default. I actually got interested in it but I didn't become
that much of an aficionado. Then I got distracted from it by life. A couple of
years later I reignited with unit operations and fluid dynamics. It was then
00:14:00that I realized that I'm a nothing unless I get a graduate degree. I learned
that I knew very little. When did that happen? Probably the year before my last
year, what you would classically call the junior year but most people, including
myself, took more than four calendar years, so it doesn't quite fit.
THACKRAY: What about the financial hurdle?
GROVE: Graduate school was conditional on my getting a scholarship. My wife, who
I was then married to, went through graduate school while I was finishing City
00:15:00College. She graduated from Columbia [University] with a master's in social work
at the same time that I graduated from City College with my bachelor's degree.
Her earning power was all right. She went to school while I went to City
College, then she was going to work and it was with the combination of her and
my scholarship that I hoped would be sufficient to live on. As verified by the
summer experience, California was actually a much cheaper place than New York.
We rented a cottage during that summer for a period of time--forty-five dollars
a month. I mean, it wasn't much of a cottage but forty-five dollars was not a
00:16:00lot of money then. I thought we were going to manage. We had some history with
the economics of a frugal lifestyle in California, and it turned out that way. I
had a summer job the year before I graduated. I also had a summer job the year after.
THACKRAY: Where was that?
GROVE: At Standard Oil [Company] in Richmond, California.
THACKRAY: These were classic chemical engineering jobs.
00:17:00GROVE: Very classic chemical engineering jobs. In fact, I designed the nuts and
bolts of a distillation column. It was a feasibility study, so I didn't think it
was ever going to get built. Nobody paid much attention to it, and I was bored
stiff! My other summer job was in a classical chemistry lab of Stauffer Chemical
00:18:00[Company], also in Richmond. It was a very depressing run-down lab. One incident
stuck in my mind and had a real impact on me as a future manager. People came
into work on Saturday--the permanent workers not the summer students like
me--and I discovered that they sat around and bull-shitted and had an eye on the
window until the most senior person's car pulled out. Minutes later, next senior
person pulled out; and minutes later the next one, and within ten minutes after
the senior guy left the whole place was empty. [laughter]
I did not like that place, or the work either as you can tell, but that was
00:19:00chemistry. It was boiling liquids, glassware, and Bunsen burners. At Standard
Oil, the whistle went off at five o'clock and people ran to their cars. The same
thing happened at Tidewater [Associated Oil Company]. At Stauffer [Chemical
Company], there was no whistle.
It was not a good scene. I had three work experiences, one worse than the other.
I fought, in later years, against summer jobs at Intel [Corporation]. I was
against having people come in for summer jobs because they were miserable. I
00:20:00never would have gone to work during the summer, and I did not want people to
form a negative experience which they inevitably would have done. It's
interesting to connect the dots between some of my personal experiences and the
obstinate beliefs with which I operated later as a manager.
THACKRAY: How did you get summer jobs in California while you were in City College?
GROVE: By two numbers that I remember: one of them was obtained as a single
offer after either seventy or seventy-six applications.
00:21:00GROVE: Letters. The other one, having experience and having moved to California,
I think only required seventy.
GROVE: It was a very discouraging event. Since we did not know California
geography--you probably don't know it well enough to appreciate what I'm about
to say--we looked at the map. My job was in Martinez; and my wife got a summer
job at Sonoma State Mental Hospital. That was our first summer in California.
They offered free housing for the staff, so we were going to live in Sonoma and
I would commute to Martinez. It didn't look that far on the map, maybe half an
hour to forty minutes. It turned out to be an hour and a half! Before the end of
00:22:00the first week, we found that forty-five-dollar cottage. She quit the job that
she hadn't yet started, and found a clerical job. We only had one car, and we
made stupid mistakes that nobody from California would have made, so it required
a fair amount of persistence.
THACKRAY: Like what?
GROVE: Like thinking that driving forty miles would take half an hour in
California. Everybody knows that you can drive sixty-five miles an hour so,
mathematically, forty miles is a half an hour.
THACKRAY: Thinking of the appeal of California, was it mostly Berkeley?
00:23:00GROVE: It was San Francisco. Berkeley was the closest we could get to San
Francisco. A friend of mine--a guy I escaped from Hungary with--went on to
Stanford [University], and I came down to visit Stanford. Actually it was pretty
bad. I think it made me appreciate how nice Berkeley is! [laughter] San
Francisco was special. I was trying to come closer to my recollection of
Budapest, and New York City was not close. That's how I began in California. I
hated New York. Kolodney said, "Why don't you go to California?" I asked, "Where
in California?" and he replied, "San Francisco is sort of a European city." One
00:24:00comment--a life changed.
THACKRAY: Did Berkeley admit you just on the basis of recommendations from your professors?
GROVE: Yes. What else could they have done?
THACKRAY: Interviewed you, perhaps?
GROVE: I visited Berkeley during the summer of 1959, but that was before I
applied. Somebody showed me around, and it was wonderful, but even more from the
standpoint of formally taking stock of what it would be like to go there. There
00:25:00was no interview. I think I applied to MIT, Berkeley, Wisconsin--some classical
places. I got accepted with a scholarship to all the places I applied, yet
nobody interviewed me. That's a kind of "Harvardish" thing.
THACKRAY: Where do you live? What does your wife do?
GROVE: She was a social worker, and over the period of three years that I lived
in Berkeley, she worked at two counties' welfare departments. She started out in
00:26:00the Marin County Welfare Department and then the Solano County Adoptions
Department. Later, when I graduated and we moved down to Fairchild, she worked
with the Santa Clara County adoption agency. She worked until our second child
THACKRAY: How was Berkeley?
GROVE: It was very interesting. Physically it was gorgeous. The courses and the
students were a strange mixture. Courses were hard--it took me a while to
00:27:00discover that they were not inherently hard. They assumed a different
terminology and training than I had. It was frightening at first. I had a big
transition problem; for a while I thought I was going to flunk unless I died
before I flunked out. It was not altogether different from the City College
experience: It hit me like a ton of bricks, and then I figured out the MO [modus
operandi] and survived. The same thing happened in Berkeley, and it seems to me
the same thing, watching my kids going through graduate school, seems to happen
when people go to a graduate school different from their undergraduate school.
00:28:00The other thing that was different was the student body, the interactivity of
the student body. Here is Grove sitting in the class, utterly sunk and confused
with the vector notations that he's never seen in his life, and busily writing
things down and trying to follow along--that was after my shock has peaked. I'm
staring at the blackboard and I'm utterly confused by how line 2 follows from
line 1. I wrote it down but I don't get it. A hundred, maybe eighty, kids wrote
00:29:00it down and yawned. I said to the professor, "I'm sorry, I don't understand how
line 2 follows from line 1." The instructor turns around and stares at line 2
and line 1, grabs an eraser, erases line 2, and realizes they're completely
different. [laughter] The other seventy-nine students pull out an eraser as soon
as this happens, erase and rewrite it. That incident, which is not an apocryphal
incident, was also a very important one, because I discovered, "These toads
don't know anymore than I do. They just don't dare to speak up." At City
College, it was a feisty scene; you didn't get away with anything. You better
have your act together there as an instructor, because the students will nail
00:30:00you. If you made an error in grading somebody's paper, it will take you only two
minutes into the next recess before you get pinned to the wall. Berkeley was
much lower key, much calmer, much less confrontational--in class, and out of
class. That was one thing, which answers your question in part. The second one
was an important event in my self esteem as a student, realizing that I'm really
no dumber than the rest of them.
THACKRAY: Were you saying, "Gee, I'm in the right place, doing the right thing?"
00:31:00GROVE: God, yes! First of all, remember I wanted to get out and get on with
life. The course requirements, after the first year, were nebulous to
non-existent. I had all the liberty of picking and choosing what kind of classes
to take or audit, and I took advantage of it. I took some killer courses in
math. I asked Acrivos what course I should take, and he sent me to a guy called
Chambré [Paul L. Chambré], who in a previous life must have been like Jean
00:32:00Valjean from Les Misérables, the guy who lied, cheated, and became a hero.
[END OF TAPE, SIDE 1]
THACKRAY: Please continue with your description of Chambré.
GROVE: He was a really tough, demanding math teacher; with the personal skills
and personal demeanor of this character of Victor Hugo's. But other than that I
really didn't have to do anything. I talked with him, Andy Acrivos, and he sent
00:33:00me to a colleague of his. The two of them were collaborating on a
theoretical-experimental combination thesis, which took some poor guy five years
to construct and show that the apparatus is capable of doing the job. It was a
circulating oil tunnel. They were feeling bad about the guy--they wanted to let
him go, so I had the opportunity to take over an existing experimental setup.
That's a ready-to-do experiment! [laughter] I liked two things about it. First
of all, it was very consistent with the type of fluid dynamics I was interested
in. It was experimental without my having to exercise my ten thumbs--I'm
00:34:00terrible with things. I was, and continue to be. But I like experiments. I don't
like tinkering--there's a difference. The guy did five years of tinkering, and
the experiment wasn't exactly ready for primetime, but almost ready for
primetime. I had two advisors--one on the experimental side, and one on the
theoretical side. I fit in there like--click--and I had a wonderful time with it.
I wrote up a thesis that--somebody is working on a book about me--so in
connection with that, I looked up my own thesis because there was something in
it that I wanted to verify. This is going to sound
00:35:00awful, but it is an amazing thesis. I was directed to a problem, whose
theoretical solution goes back to [Gustav R.] Kirchhoff. The references are 1920
and 1897--things of that sort. I went in the face of prevailing dogma on the
basis of my experiment and proposed a "Gordian knot" kind of solution that was
completely against the classical beliefs. I had the guts to understand the
experiments, what the experiment was saying. I had a Ph.D. advisor who, after a
00:36:00fair amount of due diligence, believed my data. Footnote: he moved to Stanford;
negotiated to move the equipment over to Stanford; and put another student on
there whose job was to redo my entire thesis, data point by data point. I didn't
know that at the time, and he didn't know that he would have to do that. By the
way, I passed. That helped me write a pretty important experimental paper; it
led me, as first author, to elaborate the theoretical interpretation of what I saw.
It's all right for me to say that, because I'm talking about somebody who is
00:37:00more than forty years younger than me. There was an interesting intellectual
courage. I'm impressed by that, I'm older than his father would be by quite a
bit, by the person who did that. I'm sorry but it sounds awful to me anyway. I
had a very good time. I was very proud. I wrote four
papers. They published four papers out of my
thesis--two of them in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics. Cambridge
University-edited. The leading journal.
THACKRAY: Why not go into academe?
00:38:00GROVE: It did not appeal to me at all. Remember I still had my parents, whose
support I was responsible for. I wanted to do something useful. A Ph.D. thesis
is the training of a researcher. I did something useful, from a practical
standpoint. Lockheed Missile and Space Systems chased me, including coming to a
ten-minute talk I gave in Chicago in the field. That was a hush-hush, research
organization that was, I inferred, looking at the signature of the wakes behind
submarines. In my thesis, there's one place where I mention some obscure guy
00:39:00called [Anatol] Roshko, a 1920 paper. Somebody from Lockheed called and said,
"Roshko said such and such, not such and such." So there was somebody actually
working on it, but I did not want to go there--that would have been a logical
place for me to go to work.
THACKRAY: Are you saying you didn't want to go to Chicago?
GROVE: No, Lockheed was in Palo Alto. I did not want go into defense, military
armament kind of work. I didn't want fences and security and this and that.
Plus, I barely became eligible--you had to be a citizen. I was a citizen by that
time, but barely.
00:40:00THACKRAY: What were the options?
GROVE: Remember the comment--"If you don't like New York, you can try
California." One of two professors that I had at Berkeley made an equally well
thought-out comment, "What do you think you want to do?" I told him the story,
"I don't want to work at Lockheed, dah, dah, dah." He suggested, "Why don't you
go work in solid state--all the math that you learned under Andy Acrivos is
applicable to solid state physics." I replied, "All right." I looked solid state
physics up in the catalog. There was a course by a Professor [Shyh] Wang on
solid state electronics that was about to start; so I showed up there and asked,
00:41:00"May I audit your course?" Dr. Wang said, "Sure." I audited the course. Whoever
made that comment was right. I could keep up almost all the way without much
effort. A diffusion equation is a diffusion equation. But everybody else in that
class had a hard time of it. I basically was fluent in a like physical
phenomena--I liked touching onto the behavior of the transistor, which was how
it went from quantum theory to elementary transistor behavior. I began name
dropping--slash--dangerously, superficially ignorant in solid state electronics
00:42:00just in time for the interview season to start. What I did is the moral
equivalent of applying at seventy places. I ended up having twenty-two interviews.
THACKRAY: How did you meet the people you interviewed with?
GROVE: Either on campus or I wrote letters to the people who didn't come. Half
of them were from semiconductor firms; the other half were from businesses that
I actually was educationally qualified for--like Lockheed. It was quite wise.
The record looked like this--Fairchild rejected me once. Promptly, somebody else
00:43:00from Fairchild invited me to visit. Personnel organizations are notorious. I
almost didn't go to visit them because I was so pissed off about the
condescending rejection I got at the same time. Motorola [Inc.], I think made an
offer to me. Texas Instruments [Inc.] did not make an offer to me. Somebody
called Pacific Semiconductors [Inc.], with a long history, made an offer to me.
Bell [Telephone Laboratories, Inc.] pursued me, and it ended up Fairchild versus
Bell Labs [Laboratories]. Bell Labs was the place at that time, and a suitable
department there made me an offer that I could come in and not decide on what
00:44:00job I wanted to have until after nine months. They were very nice to me. G.E.
[General Electric Company] Schenectady Research Labs phoned me and asserted,
"Why would we waste our time with you? If we wanted somebody with solid state
experience we would go and get one of [Charles] Kittel's boys!" I was not their
kind of guy.
THACKRAY: What was your answer?
GROVE: I responded with, "I have taken this course, and that course." He
replied, "Blah, blah, blah. Next!" [laughter] I had offers, but by no means a
00:45:00clear sweep. My background was not right for the job. My personality, you either
like or hate, so that wasn't a currency either. On the other hand, I think I did
better. I remember DuPont pursuing me very aggressively. They didn't even ask me
my religious preferences by then--that was three years later, in the 1960s.
THACKRAY: What would you have done at DuPont?
GROVE: Chemical engineering.
THACKRAY: You wouldn't have worked in solid state?
GROVE: No. These are companies such as Lockheed and DuPont.
00:46:00THACKRAY: But classic, the Exxon's [Mobil Corporation] and Dow's [Chemical
Company] as it were.
GROVE: Right. Exxon is a little anachronistic. Esso [Oil Inc.] may have been one
THACKRAY: You had some offers on each side of the street.
GROVE: Yes. Once I had offers from semiconductor industries, I concentrated on
those, and very rapidly reduced them to what I should accept and what I wanted
THACKRAY: Was staying in California big, or not?
GROVE: I loved it here. I didn't quite love it in Palo Alto--the sleepy
backwater and everything--but second best to Berkeley, certainly as compared to
00:47:00Morristown. [laughter] Back to New York! But were it not for the geography and
were it not for Gordon [E. Moore], I might have gone to Bell Labs. I liked the
people at Bell Labs. I didn't like them like I liked Gordon. I really liked my
first impression of Gordon. Those were the two forces.
THACKRAY: What was the first Fairchild sequence? Can you talk about rejection at Fairchild?
GROVE: I wrote a letter applying to the personnel manager, whose first name I
00:48:00don't remember. His last name was Palmer [Robert B. Palmer]. I later on met him
and it was dislike at first sight. He told me in a letter back, "We like our
boys to come back closer to graduation. Go back to your courses and give us a
call later." Literally within days I got a letter from the head of the chemistry
section at Fairchild R&D [research and development]. He said, "I was visiting
the Berkeley campus recently and your name came up in my discussions with
various faculty. It sounds like you are a perfect fit for the kind of thing we
are interested in. Could we persuade you to pay us a visit some afternoon?"
00:49:00THACKRAY: Were letters like that also coming from, say, Bell Labs or one of
these other places?
GROVE: Bell Labs didn't write me letters. Bell Labs sent people to my
lab--senior people visiting me in my lab. That was a class act! I could see the
beginning of kind of the decline of Bell Labs, but you could see why it was
great for many years. They cultivated people for a long time. They cultivated
faculty, so they'd pinpoint the Andy [Andrew S.] Groves or other promising
people. Bell Labs stands out. Fairchild stands out.
THACKRAY: Who else?
00:50:00GROVE: Lockheed stands out. At Lockheed, the guy pursued me. On the other hand,
G.E. stands out and I can't get over the fact that the guy rejected me. Here's a
funny story really. I had actually a good interview--I went out to TI [Texas
Instruments, Inc.], their Dallas location, and I subsequently got to know two of
the people who interviewed me. I couldn't figure out why they didn't hire me.
Something wasn't right. My impression of the interview was such that I felt
pretty good about it; I was going to get an offer. Not that I was that keen on
00:51:00that. That sort of thing didn't matter after a few of them. The interviews were
pretty much the same as they are now. They flew me out to wherever, made me do a
seminar on my thesis that most people didn't care about. They talked about what
they do, showed me around. Then started selling--gave me dinner, put me on a
plane, and thanked me.
THACKRAY: Did you do sort of one-on-one interviews with a number of people?
GROVE: I had a one-on-one interview that I remember with Gordon. I had a
one-on-one interview with Jim [James M.] Early, who was the head of the section
00:52:00at Bell Labs. He subsequently came out here to run Fairchild R&D. He didn't do
terribly well, but at Bell Labs he was highly regarded.
THACKRAY: Stay with Bell Labs and that one-on-one--was it because Early had
explicit confidence in relation to your thesis? Was it because he was saying,
"This is a hot property and I want to check it out"?
GROVE: It was like this: whoever was my contact person spent a lot of time with
me, telling me, "You are really very good and you're really very interesting and
we're very interested in hiring you." [Early] was in selling mode, "What can we
00:53:00do to make sure?" I told him, money is a problem. He upped my starting salary by
one hundred dollars. I told him I wasn't sure whether I was interested in the
chemistry part or the electronic part. He concocted an offer where I could do
both of them in some period of time. Jim Early was in a selling mode by the time
I got to him. Gordon Moore asked me about my thesis, all on his own, and
listened, and got it! I had given many talks about my thesis; of course I spent
a year and a half living it. Basically, he could have asked me for a thirty-nine
00:54:00second version and I would have delivered a pretty decent thirty-nine second;
give me a three-hour version, I would have done that. I don't remember him
specifically asking me to do it in ten minutes, but he absolutely got the
significance of what I did, and was very interested, and had good questions. I
just came away very impressed with that young guy, in his thirties, running a
good looking research lab; he had pretty good people there, and it was in
California. He's really a smart guy--very personable, no airs. Gordon was a big
selling factor, helping me see what I wanted to be.
00:55:00THACKRAY: The Bell Labs offer was on the table at that stage?
GROVE: Yes. If it wasn't I knew it was coming also.
THACKRAY: Reputationally, if you'll hold it right there and talk Bell
Labs--Fairchild, what do you say at that moment?
GROVE: If you are a microprocessor designer in college, you want to work at
Intel. They could get anyone in that kind of activity because that's the place
to be, that's the place that you want on your resume, that's the place for your
formative years. If you're in solid state chemistry, solid state physics, solid
00:56:00state electronics, Bell Labs is the place. It's 1963--the transistor was
invented fifteen years earlier--so the integrated circuit has just about been
invented. Nobody knew how significant it was. In fact, Fairchild just shortly
became the place to be because of integrated circuits. But it wasn't in 1962
when I was doing interviews. Bell Labs really had the reputation of being the
place. My experience was very favorable, except for where it was, and except
that Jim Early was no Gordon Moore. He ended up with whatever was left of Gordon
Moore's job. That's interesting. The only thing that is even more interesting is
00:57:00calling on the customers in Silicon Valley--a salesman your age takes me into a
building--and I tell him, that is where Tandem [Computers, Inc.] was before
Compaq [Computer Corporation] took it over. Gordon and I can recite history of a
thread of Silicon Valley. That was UNIVAC [Universal Automatic Computer] before
it was Unisys [Corporation]. And the young man with me is rolling his eyes, "Let
me tell you about our latest product, sweetheart." As we say, history is
important but nobody cares about it.
00:58:00THACKRAY: What percentage was it Gordon Moore and what percentage was it California?
GROVE: California I think was the important point. California dominated. But if
it was a miserable experience, I had a wonderful alternative. It's interesting
that later on when I did the MOS [metal oxide semiconductor] work at Fairchild,
I became friends with the crew at Bell Labs that was doing similar work. They
all knew that Bell Labs had tried to get me. Their prominence lasted for a while
00:59:00and then Bell Labs slipped away from the scene.
THACKRAY: Was there any other California offer?
GROVE: I want to say that PSI, Pacific Semiconductors [Inc.], gave me an offer,
but I'm not sure. That was in Los Angeles.
THACKRAY: All right.
GROVE: Was there any other California offer, before Fairchild?
THACKRAY: Yes, that's what I was wondering--there's not much other option.
GROVE: The other companies wouldn't have known what to do with a Ph.D. Their
research consisted of going to the Wagon Wheel [Pub] and sitting down and
listening to what the Fairchild engineers were talking about.
01:00:00THACKRAY: The classic chemical was really out of the window by this time.
GROVE: Once I had an offer from the "left column," it was--but not until then. I
think I would have been horrified. There's a box where I keep careful notes of
everybody I saw, and I wanted to dig out my notes about Gordon.
THACKRAY: Do you think you can find them?
GROVE: I know I didn't throw them out, but I couldn't find them. I tried once.
Let me put it this way, when I work up my diligence and look again, and if I
find it, I'll send you a copy. It was a very impressive interview.
01:01:00THACKRAY: It is now an historical document, so we should archive it with due ceremony.
GROVE: It is quite amazing. I ferreted away a stack of pieces of paper like that
and just last week I was deposed in a suit involving the creation of the Intel
name, which was almost thirty-six years ago. I had a piece of paper where the
various name candidates were listed in my handwriting. There were three columns
of numbers--one, two, and three choices--number one, number two, and three in
each column, one in my handwriting, one in Gordon Moore's handwriting, and one
01:02:00in Bob [Robert N.] Noyce's handwriting. Definitely an historical document--it is
likely to be the determinant in winning this lawsuit. It's so spooky that it's
in Dr. Noyce's handwriting. A year ago a great friend of mine, Les [Leslie L.]
Vadasz dug up the notes that he and I worked on when he explained to me the
organization of the first memory device that we started to design, dated August
01:03:001968. We devised the first MOS random access memory. I have a few of them. When
I showed Gordon his own handwriting, he said, "Yep, yep, yep." So I have a good
sense of history.
THACKRAY: Have you made some arrangement of the disposition of your archives?
GROVE: Stanford wants to take them.
[END OF TAPE, SIDE 2]
THACKRAY: On the basis of a dozen interview sessions, I would say our experience
01:04:00was that Gordon Moore grew visibly more relaxed, but at the same time there's a
sense in which I feel, at this moment, that perhaps I know you better than I
GROVE: You probably do. What I'm going to say is sort of funny, but I'm thinking
about the secret of my success over the first two decades in the semiconductor
01:05:00industry. This is a little tongue-in-cheek. A very plausible answer would be:
recognizing Gordon's facial reactions better than anybody else. [laughter]
I would be in a meeting and people would be bashing each other's heads and all
of that, and I'm running the meeting and I'm perfectly in charge and all that. I
look at Gordon--something is wrong. I'd yell, "Stop! Gordon, what's bothering
you?" And then, "Shut up! Gordon, tell us whatever you wanted to tell us," and
he did. I could do that. He usually had the right answer and the right comment,
01:06:00the right concern. But somebody had to stop the traffic. I don't know that I did
it all the time, but I did it a lot of the time, and it saved me and Intel from
a lot of problems. Now my added value in the room was not just that, but my
insight about Gordon had an added value. Nobody would have had access to
Gordon's insight without my recognizing that it was time to stop the bulls. I
would say that he was waiting for me--and he would probably give a sheepish
little smile and agree with me. I don't remember the specific time, but he said,
01:07:00"You know me better than my wife--well not better, but as well as."
By the way, it happened to be done in a chemical engineering department--a small
THACKRAY: About this technical, mathematical discipline that you have. As you
01:08:00look back now on your career, from Berkeley to today, what were you really
bringing out of that background into your career?
GROVE: A couple of things. Comfort with differential equations, which allowed me
to analyze things at a simple level--not very complex. Physical problems are
sometimes described in differential equations. If you think like a differential
equation, you can simplify them enough to put them into a proper form of
01:09:00differential equation. You can find typical closed-form mathematical solutions
that are pretty useful. My early papers are perfect examples of that. All the
work with the Les Misérables character [Chambré], courses, mathematics, and
digging through the papers for my thesis, strengthened me--I was pretty
comfortable after that. That helped me a great deal. It helped me also,
indirectly, by allowing me to learn about solid state electronics and solid
state physics so that I got halfway interested in a brand new field and, without
01:10:00too much fuss, became conversant enough to start working in that field.
When I arrived at Fairchild on a Monday morning, my supervisor, who was an
electrical engineer, spent the morning giving me the background of a problem,
and left me with an assignment to do a bunch of analytical work. I could not
have done that without the analytical education. It actually wasn't that
complicated, but I needed to be used to taking a physical problem and turning it
into an equation, solving the differential equations, doing a family of curves,
looking at a particular parameter. That turned out to be my first week at
01:11:00Fairchild. I was given a job and by Friday I published a report on it that was
the electrical analysis with which we studied the silicon dioxide surface,
electrically. It turned out to be a very important development. How lucky can
you get? A, that you arrive Monday morning and someone gives you the assignment
and goes away; B, you are armed with enough general platform to go after a
problem like that and turn it into differential equations, solve the
differential equations, and blah, blah, blah. And it so happens that I had the
rudimentary programming skills so I could run up enough representations of that
01:12:00closed-form solution on a batch process computing service. I could plot a bunch
of things by the end of the week. Very few people knew how to program in FORTRAN
in 1963 at a Silicon Valley commercial company. I don't need to generalize, but
I knew how to do it, and it fit right in.
BROCK: Had you had to learn the programming for your thesis work?
GROVE: Yes. I don't think it made it into my thesis particularly, but remember
01:13:00there was a Kirchhoff kind of approach. Those are described by differential
equations and therefore that approach could be analyzed. I calculated what my
experimental measurements would look like if Kirchhoff's theory applied.
Actually, it probably did make it into the thesis. Anyway, it turned out that
this divergence was big enough that you could drive a truck through it--not just
in minor, in degree, but in the general look of it. This, for example, is the
classical solution. The experiment suggests a classical solution is one
solution, but there's another solution that looks like this. I don't have this
theory to calculate it exactly like this, but these are some of the conclusions
01:14:00that we can draw that model, which are, every single one of them, at variance
with Kirchhoff's classical solution. Yes, I did. It's very analogous to what I
did with surface states. This is what classical theory would look like; this is
what the experiment looked like; this is the variance. Everybody thought about
surface states, and I thought "They're not surface states, they're surface
charge." Nobody writes about surface charge. Everybody talks about surface
states. Everybody talks about Kirchhoff. Look at the data! It says there's the
I presented the first paper later in the summer of 1963. It was a comparison of
that stuff that I calculated and the experimental data I came up with. A fixed
01:15:00charge instead of surface states, which sounds like a minor difference; it
isn't. I got nailed by all these experts who would sooner burn witches or
equally burn me at the stake--like the witches of Salem--for being a heretic.
THACKRAY: Was there a lot of serendipity in that?
GROVE: Absolutely! But I had things in my tool bag, which is what your question
is. I'd done exactly that kind of thing and I had a protector against classical
dogma in Andy Acrivos. I had confidence. I didn't have a protector with surface
01:16:00states, but I didn't need one. Would I have had the intellectual courage to step
out and do that had I not had that first experience? I don't know. The first
time around, it worked exactly like it was supposed to. I had an advisor who
advised me, to keep me out of trouble, but said look at the data and draw your
conclusions. He protected me by putting his name on the paper and it got
published by people who are not prone to publishing revolutionary insights or
departures. I'd done it once, then the second time around, I did it without
training wheels, without an advisor. It's a classic story of how academic
training should work.
01:17:00THACKRAY: Yes. Gordon mentions that Acrivos wrote him a note saying, "This is a
very unusual guy." Just talk there about your relationship to Acrivos. It sounds
as if you were in a very special relationship with him as opposed to any other
student milling around.
GROVE: No, not then. I have become, not a close friend of his, but I see him. On
St. Andrew's Day we are part of the celebration in New York. He left Stanford
and retired and became a professor at City College. He's just retired from
there. I have had kind of a low-key friendship of forty years with him now, but
01:18:00it developed slowly and after I left. He was always good to me, but he is an
academic absorbed in his work and not that interested in people. We didn't have
that much in common.
THACKRAY: Acrivos told Gordon Moore, "Grove is a very unusual person." What made
him say that?
GROVE: I don't know. When I first heard of that letter I was stunned. I was kind
01:19:00of like, "I didn't know you loved me." [laughter] Not literally. By the time I
knew of this it was kind of stupid to ask--what did you see in me when it was
not obvious. By the time I found about it I was president of Intel or something
THACKRAY: Your Fairchild interaction and hiring, was that 100 percent you and
Gordon? Eighty percent you and Gordon?
GROVE: Let me make sure I understand you.
THACKRAY: Who else was involved in hiring you to Fairchild?
GROVE: The head of the chemistry department, somebody whose name I want to say
01:20:00is [Werner] Waring. Not the head of the physics department, who was my boss,
because he was half gone already before I got there.
THACKRAY: Was that Tom [Chih-Tang "Tom"] Sah?
GROVE: Right. I was amazed in reading Gordon's description of the problem of Tom
Sah, because I was very angry and my colleagues were very angry. Gordon was Tom
Sah's boss and Gordon always looked like he never heard us complaining. Forty
years later, he has heard every word, and he just chose to detach himself from
it. He never did anything about it at the time. Tom Sah ultimately quit.
01:21:00I don't know what Andy [Acrivos] saw in me, but he did write that letter. Gordon
read that letter. He wrote it in 1962. As I think back, I was not that good in
math. He had students who were dynamite in math. I was not that good at
experiments--people including the guy who built my oil tunnel were a lot better
at it. But I don't think he had many students who came up with
tradition-breaking observations and insights. That's what I'm impressed by about
myself, and I'm assuming that's what people were impressed by, but I don't
01:22:00really know. Asking me at this point is meaningless. As far as the Heisenberg
Uncertainty Principle--vis à vis history has disturbed the facts.
[END OF TAPE, SIDE 3]
[END OF INTERVIEW]
THACKRAY: I wonder if we could begin as you join Fairchild [Semiconductor], and
if you could say something about the physical plant reality of the Fairchild you
joined, and the structural reality of how many people, doing what--just to set
01:23:00GROVE: [It was] a relatively modern building. It was an "H" shaped building, and
between the fingers of the "H" was an outdoor patio. A very attractive
California design. There was a big contrast with Bell [Telephone Laboratories,
Inc.], which was a messy hundred-year-old or eighty-year-old building at the
time. The labs at Fairchild were separated, but only a short distance from the
offices. The offices were small, but a number of them were individual offices,
01:24:00which was very important to me at the time. I didn't think much of it at the
time, but later on I puzzled over it: Gordon [E. Moore] and his associate
director at the time--a guy called Vic [Victor H.] Grinich--had an office suite
off the entrance, physically separate from the rest of the lab. You had to go
through a complex of secretaries and administrative offices to get there. It was
very isolated. At my arrival, I wasn't very savvy about things like that. I had
tried to drop in a few times to Gordon's office, and it was painful to get
01:25:00there, and I realized it was a very undesirable setup. Four years later I was
appointed assistant director, I was sort of the successor to Vic Grinich. When I
became assistant director, I chose not to go to that wing and have Vic Grinich's
office, but decided to stay near where I was, which was at the crossroad between
the cafeteria and the bathrooms--one of the intersections of the "H"--to make it
very easy for people to come by and stick their heads into the office.
THACKRAY: What was the office size? Was it big or cozy?
01:26:00GROVE: I would say fifty thousand square feet, but at the time I knew the
building, I wasn't very good with square footage. People started work relatively
late. I was not aware of it at the time but with an Intel [Corporation] eye,
looking back, it was a very casual work environment. People also left relatively
early by Intel standards. It was a bit of a country club atmosphere--again I
didn't realize it at the time, but looking back later, it was that. We had very
01:27:00good people--just no pressure.
THACKRAY: Because they owned the territory? Why no pressure?
GROVE: I guess no pressure because very little was expected in terms of tangible
output. I think we talked about the difficulty of transferring technology to the
manufacturing world. For all practical purposes, everybody involved had given up
on that. They just did their stuff, wrote their paper--it was almost an academic
01:28:00environment. It was very rare to see people from [Fairchild Semiconductor]
Mountain View [manufacturing facility]--the manufacturing arm--roam the halls of
the company or come to meetings. It was an entity left to itself. You asked for
my first impression--I'm giving you my reflections two years later. I didn't
know any of the manufacturing people because I never saw them, until that became
my self-appointed mission, which was in 1967 or so.
THACKRAY: You're entering the physics department. What does that consist
01:29:00of--number of people?
GROVE: Twenty. Twenty-ish.
THACKRAY: Twenty-ish Ph.D.'s?
GROVE: Half Ph.D.'s and half non-Ph.D.'s. Led by a guy that we talked about, Tom
[Chih-Tang "Tom"] Sah, who was there half the time at best, doing his own work
behind closed doors much of that half time. I don't remember, as I sit here, a
01:30:00single department meeting. Talking of the no-pressure, no-output--the three of
us that ended up collaborating, Bruce [E.] Deal, Ed [Edward H.] Snow, and I met
by accident. We were all working on carefully selected--almost as if it was
carefully selected--parts of the same issue.
THACKRAY: This was not from on high?
GROVE: No. If it was from any master plan, I never found that master plan. We
started collaborating by literally running into each other in the cafeteria
lunch room. Hi, I'm so and so, I'm so and so. "What are you doing?" "I'm working
on a MOS capacitor." "Gee, that's funny. I'm working on the MOS capacitor, too."
01:31:00Claws come out. "What do you do?" "I'm trying to grow pure oxide." A sigh of
relief. "I'm trying to analyze the theoretical capacity." The other guy relaxes.
Then without anybody telling us, we informally started to work together. If
there was a master plan to pick the right three--and subsequently, I'll tell you
how the fourth came--it could not have been any better designed by background
and inclination. The fourth person was a fellow by the name of Des [Desmond J.]
Fitzgerald, who was a transistor engineer working in my neighborhood on an
01:32:00unrelated project. They were going to lay him off. I thought he was very good;
and I traded one of the people who I supervised, who I did not think was very
good, for him. Des survived the layoff--the layoff came a year into my presence
there. The other guy didn't really much mind being laid off either. I'm not sure
Des would've minded--these were relatively young people.
THACKRAY: These were technicians.
GROVE: No. Master's degree engineers--bachelor's and master's. Anyway,
01:33:00Fitzgerald became the fourth member of the group. We fairly rapidly extended
what we learned about the surface physics to the behavior of bipolar
transistors, and Des was knowledgeable on that. In various combinations the four
of us published several dozen papers.
THACKRAY: There was a physics department, a chemistry department--
GROVE: We had nothing whatsoever to do with the chemistry--I had no idea what
they did. The microwave device department was run by a guy called Irv [Irving
01:34:00H.] Solt. Presumably they were working on microwave transistors.
Digital integrated electronics department [DIED]. If you want to make a joke
about it, it's not inappropriate to call them DIED because they were dead!
[laughter] I have no idea what they did--they had their own private line, they
had their own simulation stuff. They were working on a branch of integrated
01:35:00circuits called CTL [capacitive threshold logic], which was an approach to
bipolar integrated circuits, but they were the butt of jokes in terms of lack of
productivity. They had a computer systems organization under a guy called Rex
Rice, doing advanced computer architectural work unrelated to everything else.
Then there was a service organization called device development that was
supposed to run the lab to fabricate the experimental devices. Now, I did not
figure these things out until quite some time later. I mean, I found these
things out by sitting around the cafeteria and people explaining them to me.
01:36:00THACKRAY: There was no introduction program?
GROVE: No. Now an interesting relevant point--one of the engineers working in
the DIED department, working on MOS [metal oxide semiconductor] integrated
circuits, who at some point started to work on MOS integrated circuits was Les
[Leslie L.] Vadasz. Somebody told me there's another Hungarian, so we met, and
we became friends. He was then and for some years later terribly
01:37:00underappreciated and undervalued. He was a small guy and he was very skinny
then. But he was a very knowledgeable, very smart engineer--he had very good
judgment. When the Intel time came around he was the first person I wanted to
recruit. History bore out my judgment. But I think we only did something
together in the last year or so of my stay at Fairchild. Because the MOS
integrated circuits presumed the ability to fabricate and keep alive a MOS
01:38:00device, that took a while in coming.
THACKRAY: The description you're giving sounds almost like the same description
you might give if you'd been hired from outside into, let's say, the Berkeley
[University of California, Berkeley] physics department. I'm thinking of the
looseness of what you encountered.
GROVE: I don't know about the Berkeley physics department, but I think the
Berkeley chemical engineering department had more discipline and structure,
which is where I came from. I liked that it was like that, but the trouble with
01:39:00freedom is: you like your freedom, but if you want to accomplish something, if
he has his freedom and you have your freedom, the two of you pursue different
things. You're dependent on his collaboration to move your work along: his
freedom renders your freedom useless. I mentioned the device development
lab--there was absolutely no discipline. They took forever to do their job,
picked their own priorities. It seemed to the outside that they worked at half
speed, which is exactly why the DIED person said, "I want to have my own lab."
01:40:00He got his own lab--his own lab didn't cost us anything. There was no internal
discipline to the place; and there was no external discipline or expectations
that were put on the lab and put on the manufacturing organization to support
the lab. The head of device development over some period of time was a guy
called Pierre [R.] Lamond. A very hard driving, kind of mean, but sharp guy. He
moved over to manufacturing in some kind of promotion. He came back, and in so
01:41:00many words, he said, "R&D's [research and development] filled with a bunch of
turkeys, except Andy [Andrew S.] Grove is not a turkey." He started paying
attention to the fact that we were applying what we learned to transistor
behavior, Fitzgerald and myself. He actually took that out of our hands,
processed it through his manufacturing line at five times the speed of the
device development lab, and put it into manufacturing, and I got a couple of
THACKRAY: How long had you been there at that moment?
GROVE: Three years. Then subsequently he joined [Charles E.] Sporck. Sporck left
to take over National Semiconductor [Corporation]. He took Pierre Lamond as his
01:42:00number two. Pierre ended up running the operations at National Semiconductor.
National Semiconductor, for a period of time, was very successful. He turned
around and tried to recruit me--by this time it's four years, into 1967.
THACKRAY: Were you tempted?
GROVE: I was very tempted. I kind of liked Pierre; I didn't know Sporck. But I
was so frustrated and bored. I have to tell you something related to this. My
01:43:00first book, Physics and Technology of Semiconductor Devices, was published in
1967, because in 1963, 1964, 1965, we did the basic work that I talked about
earlier. In 1966 I put all of this together into a
course I taught at Berkeley. Out of that course I wrote the first manuscript of
the book. I poured my twenty-something energy and ambition into--first the
research. I couldn't apply it to products for all the reasons we were talking
01:44:00about, so I put it into a course. The course was very enjoyable and I developed
the scheme that I would give the lecture, prepare a lecture--prepare lecture
number seven, let's say; give lecture number seven, go home, dictate into a
Dictaphone the material that I just gave, give it to one secretary to
transcribe, and when that was done I picked up the material--the transcript of
lecture number seven--and edited it. Simultaneously, I was working on creating
lecture number eight, editing the draft form of number seven, and doing the
01:45:00final draft of number six; which kind of kept me out of trouble. In 1966 I put
all of this together into a course I taught at Berkeley. At the end of nine
months I had a book basically ready to go. When the book came out, it was like
somebody blew out the light. I had the book sitting on my desk when Pierre called.
THACKRAY: It was an anticlimax.
GROVE: Exactly. Baby blues. Work took nothing. You know the circumstances of
what happened then? I don't want to repeat that.
THACKRAY: You haven't said.
GROVE: You haven't heard that? I was telling somebody about that. There's a guy
01:46:00writing a book on me. Pierre wooed me; I interviewed. The timing was perfect. I
accepted. Great. Trip to Gordon--I was a section head. In name I had a
department head I reported to but it was--
THACKRAY: A section within physics?
GROVE: A section of the physics department. The physics department by now would
have had a caretaker--a manager who really did not get into the substance of
anything. It was an appointment of convenience when Tom Sah left. I had no
problem with him but he really wasn't my boss. Gordon reviewed every paper of
01:47:00ours and made good comments, and I remember he understood my thesis very well. I
had a relationship with Gordon. So a trip to Gordon; I swear to God, Gordon
choked up and had tears in his eyes. He said, "I was always hoping that some day
you would succeed me in this lab. I guess it's not to be." He was very depressed
in a quiet way. I felt pretty lousy but there was nothing else to say, so I said
goodbye and went back to my office. Gordon reported to [Robert N.] Noyce.
Actually, Gordon reported to Charlie Sporck's successor, who was a drunk
01:48:00salesman, an alcoholic salesman--a drunk, alcoholic nothing at this stage. A
fellow by the name of Tom [Thomas] Bay. Tom Bay's was one of the two divisions
that reported to the real general manager, who was Noyce.
That same afternoon, if my recollection is right, Bob [Robert N.] Noyce saunters
into my office. I'd never seen him--I'd certainly never seen him in my office.
I'd never seen him at R&D. He sits down across from me and leans back and makes
some comments about my book--blah, blah, blah, blah. "We don't want you to
01:49:00leave." We went back and forth as to why I was leaving. At the end of the
conversation--it was a Friday--Noyce gave the assignment, "Think of the
circumstances under which you would change your mind." "Are you serious?" He
said, "Absolutely." He laughed. I took it at face value and figured out what I
really would like to do; and what I needed to be able to do was to solve the
01:50:00problem of becoming useful for the lab, not just for me. I discussed it with my
wife [Eva Kaston], called Gordon on Sunday, and set up a meeting at Rickey's for
breakfast on Monday morning. I basically told him just what I would like to do;
and in order to do that I had to be assistant director of R&D, with technical
authority--I didn't want to have any dealings with the department heads. The
department heads in my opinion were useless, without a single exception. The
01:51:00section heads--the people who were at my level--that's where the work was being
done. I told Gordon, "You manage the department heads." The department heads
were all substantially older than I. I wasn't looking forward to dealing with
them. I want to be able to work with the section heads and I want to be able to
go to Mountain View to represent the key developments.
Gordon agreed with all of this and made a very gracious announcement of my
two-level promotion. Although I did not want to deal with the department heads,
01:52:00the promotion put me ahead of them. To my knowledge none of them objected. Then
I called Pierre from a phone booth at Berkeley and I told him I changed my mind
and why, and he said, "I knew it!" He had told me before all this happened,
"We're going to offer you two departments." I said, "You're kidding. What would
I do with two departments anyway?" When I told him my decision, he said, "I told
you I would offer you two departments, but it sounds as if they've just given
you four departments."
01:53:00THACKRAY: This is all in the context of Gordon Moore, director of research. On
one level I hear you saying, "That guy couldn't direct research."
GROVE: At one level you'd hear that and at the other level you'd hear that we
did state-of-the-art research from a little lab running circles around much
bigger organizations around the world. Gordon was then, and continues to be, a
01:54:00technical leader. He is either constitutionally unable or simply unwilling to do
what a manager has to do. If you wanted to listen to him he was there, if you
wanted to take his advice he was there. He had wise comments if you sought them
out, which were better or on par with stuff I got from Andy [Andreas] Acrivos.
He was like a thesis advisor. Would he interfere in some conflict between X and
Y and Z? Not on your life. The reason Fairchild disintegrated was because
neither Bob nor Gordon was capable of removing a Tom Bay, who was staggering in
01:55:00at eleven o'clock for a nine o'clock meeting, breathing alcohol. I mean, it
wasn't subtle. Nor was it hearsay. I cooled my heels in Tom Bay's office for two
hours before he showed up. It was about a huge technical problem involving
recall of integrated circuits on a major scale. The meeting was about that--
[END OF TAPE, SIDE 1]
GROVE: In retrospect--this is not a direct observation, it is an
inference--Sporck must have supplied the decisive mass and the operational
01:56:00muscle to the company, knocking heads and telling people what to do and what not
to do and correcting behavior and doing all that stuff. When Sporck left, he
left a hole, not just in an organizational chart but in the dynamics of the
company. Part of this is R&D where, within the four walls, Gordon's inspiration
had a magical effect on people like me and my colleagues who really cared about
what we were doing, but allowed the DIED department to do nothing; allowed the
computer system department, to the best I can tell, to produce nothing. He left
01:57:00it to chance that we would collaborate; he left it to chance that any product of
ours or any knowledge of ours would ever cross organizational boundaries. In
this context, I think my role at Intel was the Charlie Sporck role. It worked. I
wasn't a dumb Charlie Sporck because I had a very strong Gordon Moore, and I
hung on every word of his. But I wasn't waiting for Gordon to deal with the
01:58:00organization--training programs, non-performance, and transfer issues--any more
than Charlie was. Charlie wrote a book, you know. I
think that's probably overstating it. He didn't write it; he went around with a
tape recorder and got perspectives on the early days of that period from
different people. It's unedited, random, but you ought to get a copy of that.
Have you interviewed him?
BROCK: He's on our list of people to speak to, yes.
GROVE: I don't know what he is like these days, but he used to be a very blond,
01:59:00very headstrong guy. Age makes him more headstrong, but less blond. [laughter]
But he would definitely have a very useful perspective on the questions that you
are asking. He was technically Gordon's boss over some period of time.
THACKRAY: Staying again in that period in Fairchild, and thinking of that
university analogy--what's the difference between Gordon and a star professor at
Caltech [California Institute of Technology] or Berkeley? Is that really what he is?
GROVE: I never thought of it that way, but I don't see an obvious flaw in that
02:00:00comparison. A star professor who hates lecturing, doesn't write papers--Gordon's
publication record doesn't give justice to what I've said. Gordon's talks ranged
from "eh," to mediocre. Parts of Gordon's talks, taken by themselves, can be
brilliant, but he doesn't weave the stuff together. I never understood why,
02:01:00because when I handed him a manuscript his critical assessment was exquisite. If
he was in academia and he was gauged on his own publications he would not have
added his name to every fucking paper. [laughter]
You see in my experience with Andy Acrivos, who agonized over every word of
every paper, in fact the two major papers I wrote, the experimental basic paper,
02:02:00he was playing the senior faculty role. But the theoretical paper he took over
and wrote and let me comment on it. Gordon never did
that. Andy Acrivos was more of an activist. But then he had another student that
I did not get along with--who did not get along with anyone, me included. He was
in my class and we were more or less working on the same issue. Andy never
lifted a finger to get us together, so again the analogy works.
THACKRAY: If Gordon's isolated in his corner suite, what is he actually doing in
GROVE: Once I became assistant director, I went to see him just about every day.
What I did is, on my way out, as I was nearing the exit, I would walk into his
office and lean against the wall and talk to him. Those were very useful
conversations. He held a weekly staff meeting, which was not an inspiration to
the future manager in me. Also either a weekly or bi-weekly staff lunch in a
02:04:00now-defunct restaurant, a back room, where the department heads that I mentioned
had literally two or three drinks over lunch. Then fifteen years later Jimmy
Carter [James Earl Carter, Jr., thirty-ninth President of the United States]
started raving against the three-martini lunch. The only three-martini lunch
that I had ever seen, before or since, were Gordon's staff meetings. The
conversations were correspondingly useless. I don't know what he did beyond that.
02:05:00THACKRAY: When you first arrived, that first Monday morning--
GROVE: On that Monday morning I sat down with Tom Sah, who had a one o'clock
plane; he took out a pen and a pad of paper, and explained to me what he wanted
me to do. I was so confused. I had arrived somewhere between eight and nine. At
02:06:00nine o'clock I get called into Tom Sah's office; I sit down. He had a raspy
voice, "I'm leaving for a meeting; let me explain what I want you to do." He
spent several hours bringing me up to date on surface states and surface effects
and capacitors and this and that. I want you to calculate this distance and that
and he gave me some hints as to how I might go about it. Then he left. I
retreated to my nice little office. I was fresh from fluid dynamics, all of the
math--the error functions, complementary error functions, and diffusion
equations. I analyzed the problem, and went back to Tom Sah's secretary and
asked if there was a computer someplace that I could use. I forget how many
02:07:00steps later, I finally got an account at a Control Data [Corporation] service
center which was about a mile from the lab. That building is still there--I
don't know what's in it. I went over there, got an account, got a bunch of
forms. I had to put in the forms because I was doing the work in FORTRAN using a
Hollerith symbol, which means that every placement had to be just right or the
computer would return an error message, which it did multiple times. Now the
02:08:00time comes and I've got all my data, every space counted correctly. Ultimately I
managed to get through and the computer calculated a family of curves which
would have taken a very long time to calculate manually. By Friday I published
an analysis of the curves in a report ready for Tom. In some fashion that report
circulated--I certainly didn't know who to circulate it to, so I assume it was
Tom's secretary who had a distribution list. On Monday I got a note from Bob
Noyce, who I had never met--"I just read your report on MOS--it's very nice
02:09:00work," signed "Bob." I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I found out who Bob
Noyce was--general manager and Gordon's boss's boss. He reads technical reports
over the weekend. Oh God! [laughter] I have that note some place. I cherish that
note. That was the first and the last time I heard from Bob Noyce during my stay
THACKRAY: Was he reading it because it had got to Gordon, and then him? Was he
really reading it?
GROVE: He may have been copied on it, but I don't have the original report. I
know what was in it, but I don't remember who was on the distribution list. Tom
Sah's secretary may have automatically copied the management chain. It may have
02:10:00been the custom. I did not send it to Bob Noyce. I was very impressed that
somebody that high up would read it. With my first assignment I came to the
attention of the group general manager. With that you would think that the skid
would be greased. He sent the compliment--that's another story. I mean, it's a
story that you've heard. Let me put it this way, I learned a lot about
02:11:00management with a multiplier of minus one. [laughter] I came to Intel with a
ferocious determination not to build another Fairchild. I wanted to avoid many
of the practices and cultural elements. On the technical end, we tried to be
like Fairchild R&D. People knew what they were talking about, there were good
technical people. Things just didn't work for a variety of managerial reasons,
every one of which seemed like I chose to do the opposite at Intel. For example,
we didn't have separate R&D. We still don't have separate R&D. I mean, there are
manufacturing organizations that are dedicated to development of new technology,
02:12:00but they are run by the manufacturing organization. The whole transfer issue had
the technical difficulties but it didn't have the organizational difficulties.
THACKRAY: If you stay with Fairchild, was Gordon unhappy with the structure of research?
GROVE: How much time have you spent with Gordon?
THACKRAY: A lot.
GROVE: Can you gauge his happiness?
THACKRAY: I don't think he was happy, but I didn't really hear deep discontent.
02:13:00GROVE: He never groused to me. He occasionally encouraged me, but I don't think
his heart was in the encouragement. He was resigned. I'm saying these things
from forty years of retrospection. He was no different than he is now; he's just
kind of a passive, shy guy. You can't figure out what he means in the objective
context, let alone the emotional context. The total number of times I have seen
02:14:00him animatedly annoyed or unhappy or angry I can count on my thumbs.
BROCK: What were they?
GROVE: At Intel in the late 1970s, Bob Noyce said in a meeting, "Now that we are
in the computer business, blah, blah, blah." Gordon exploded, "We are not in the
computer business! We build computer development systems." Gordon was more
forceful on that than on any other issue--Bob cowered! [laughter] We didn't go
02:15:00into the computer business. There must have been another one--I have a thumb to
spare for another Gordon story. [laughter] But that's the most obvious one that
I can count.
THACKRAY: In 1967, you had the issue of whether you were leaving. How aware were
you of the fact that Bob Noyce and Gordon both were thinking of leaving? How did
you get into that?
GROVE: That's a very interesting little scab. [laughter]
THACKRAY: Pick at it please. [laughter]
02:16:00GROVE: There was a Solid State Devices Conference in May or June of 1968. Gordon
was at some sort of a Fairchild planning meeting and he was only coming a day
later. Gordon arrived and he and I went for a walk and I was busily updating him
about what I heard at the meeting. I can see that he's distracted. I started
asking him, how was the planning meeting, figuring that something happened
there. He said, "It was interesting, but I was not really interested." I stared
at him. "I've decided to leave Fairchild." "What are you going to do?" "I'm
going to start a new semiconductor company." To which I say, "I'm going with
02:17:00you." I said it faster than I just said it. Gordon didn't say no. I don't
remember what he said--I mean he didn't exactly hug me. [laughter] But then he
hasn't exactly hugged me or anyone else in my presence--then or any other time.
We start feverishly talking about what was to be Intel. In a few minutes he
said, "By the way, Bob Noyce is joining as my partner." I don't remember the
02:18:00phrase he used. To which I said, "Oh." I was not a Bob Noyce fan. I had
witnessed Bob Noyce being absolutely inactive and paralyzed as the Tom
Bay/Fairchild was disintegrating. I subbed for Gordon at Noyce's staff meetings
a number of times and it was awful. This was a long time from that one-line
compliment. I had very little appreciation for Bob. Gordon said something to the
effect, "He's better than you think,"--blah, blah, blah. I got over it. My
02:19:00reaction to Bob's presence was not very good. That was all that I knew then.
Later on we had to work out my getting out of Fairchild. I had to go to a
meeting, present a paper--that was the last thing I did for Fairchild--go to
some kind of radiation physics meeting, and present a paper on behalf of
Fairchild. I took a few days' vacation at Glacier National Park in Montana. When
02:20:00I came back we caucused in Bob's study, which was where we started. I was very
concerned that somebody should pay me something, because I was living from
paycheck to paycheck. They guaranteed that they were going to pay me even before
the company started. The company started very quickly. In due course, I
developed an appreciation for Bob, but not as a manager.
He was a very smart guy, lots of ideas, some of which were brilliant, most of
which were useless. He was perfectly tolerant of you picking the gems out of the
02:21:00ideas and throwing the rest of it away. He didn't insist on his own way. He was
very approachable. Bob was a paradox, and very private, very approachable the
first inch and after that you can't go any further. But the first inch was good
enough to charm every customer, every partner, and lead everyone to adulation.
An ability to think of doing things that other people would say, "You can't do
02:22:00that." He would say, "Why not?" Some of the time he would be right. But that was
a very good dynamic over time, because he would tolerate me saying, "That's
bullshit." Then we would argue. I would drop the bullshit label some of the
time. In the mid-1980s he was the leader of taking a free market administration,
talking them into taking the strongest, still to this day unique, stance of
prescribing the percentage of users of semiconductors from the U.S. sources to
Japan--it hasn't happened since. He was the spirit behind that. He was a good
02:23:00mentor. I came along and argued with people like Dick [Richard G.] Darman and
stuff like that. The faculty advisor I had in those kinds of things was Bob.
THACKRAY: Roughly, is Intel schematically: Bob Noyce equals charm and politics;
Gordon equals research; and you equal management? Is that the best sketch?
GROVE: It's a pretty good sketch, but I'll tell you a more specific description
02:24:00of it. Peter [F.] Drucker, Practice of Management, 1954--his best
book. Long before he writes the same thing in
thousand-page versions. At some point in the 1970s, I came across that book and
I really loved it. It's my favorite book. You come to a chapter called, "The
Ideal Chief Executive." I read that chapter, make two copies, and hand them to
Bob and Gordon, with some comment that that's us. The "Ideal Chief Executive" is
02:25:00three people--in one sentence: "an outside man, a man of thought, and a man of
action." That's almost exactly what you came up with. We couldn't have had a
better casting for those roles.
02:26:00THACKRAY: Was it implicitly clear on day one that this was the scenario?
GROVE: No. A major power struggle took place between day one and two and a half
years into it.
[END OF TAPE, SIDE 2]
GROVE: Bob, probably Bob more than Gordon, hired a guy that used to do
marketing--as compared to the sales manager who was Tom Bay--this guy called Bob
[Robert F.] Graham. He was the marketing manager in early Intel days. He left
02:27:00when he did not get the top job. They considered him very good and he was
recruited to be Intel's sales and marketing manager. A very smart guy, very
ambitious--maybe a year or two older than me but a lot more sophisticated than
me. I'm about to shift from facts to opinion. Fact: the two of us rapidly began
rubbing each other the wrong way. Opinion: later on it dawned on me that he
recognized me as a competitor at a time when the whole staff of the company
02:28:00would sit around this table and he'd start competing with me by putting me down.
In real life, it took me a long time to become suspicious of it, but by 1970 or
1971 I was utterly miserable.
I'll give you one example of what he would do. I ran engineering and
manufacturing and he ran sales and marketing. He would go on a trip and he would
have one of his henchmen nose around in the design labs checking up on whether
we were doing the day-to-day work of what we were supposed to be doing. I would
see this junior marketing guy, and I would say, "What are you doing here?" He
gave me an evasive answer. I pounced and pinned him against the wall,
figuratively speaking, and he told me that Bob told him to check on the progress
of this and that circuit design--it was six months away from delivery--so he can
02:29:00check on my status report next time I give it, with inside information. Shit
like that--the company was only a few dozen people at the time. In the face of
all of this, in 1970 we were in Washington at a technical meeting. Gordon and I
were taking a walk in the Washington Zoo and Gordon very clearly told me that
someday I would run Intel. It didn't mean a thing to me--I thought it was a very
nice compliment--but I did not have such ambitions. But I did have ambitions of
02:30:00working my tail off without somebody persecuting me. I was miserable, and I told
Gordon I was miserable. He never did a fucking thing about it. Bob ultimately
realized they had to make a decision between Bob Graham and me, and they brought
in a new sales manager. I never had this discussion with Gordon, but I was
02:31:00definitely heading towards leaving. I was miserable. I can't understand that he
would have let me go, given what he told me about his hopes, when there were
tears in his eyes, he said, "The day you walked into this office, I thought I
saw my replacement." This was at Fairchild. We've seen this "movie" before. Bob
Graham is dead by the way. He and I said hello once--he died about five years
ago--I saw him in a restaurant and said hello. That was the one time we talked
THACKRAY: Go back to the start-up moment--Bob Noyce, Gordon Moore, and
yourself--you've all had the Fairchild experience, and here's Intel. Can you
characterize in some way what Bob Noyce and what Gordon Moore took out of the
Fairchild experience to Intel, before then going to yourself?
GROVE: Bob Noyce took out of it that he wasn't going to work for anyone else. He
wasn't going to work for an East Coast company, which was his bane at Fairchild.
Somebody in Syosset was making decisions about a business that he didn't know
02:33:00anything about and they were utterly arbitrary about it. Gordon, I think,
basically wanted the equivalent of the same thing. He wanted to set up a cost
system the way he understood cost systems; he wanted to run analysts' meetings
the way he wanted to do them. Gordon actually has strong feelings about a small
number of things, compensation being one. He had very well-defined ideas. To
02:34:00this day, Intel compensation is based on Gordon's philosophy and practices.
THACKRAY: The animating ideas being what?
GROVE: Low, performance-oriented, variable, and equitable as compared to
opportunistic. That's how I would sum it up. He always placed a great deal of
value on silicon technology, and he was the technical leader of the company so
long as the company was defined by silicon. I don't think he was ever
comfortable with the microprocessor business, either the technology or as a
02:35:00business. As a business the microprocessor business is not a
value-performance-cost. It's an architecture-maximum return, increasing return
economics as it has been since software dependence. It's a highly intricate game
theory kind of game. I thrived in that.
THACKRAY: Gordon's métier was--?
GROVE: I build a much better mousetrap.
THACKRAY: Interesting research issues.
GROVE: The technology to do something that other people cannot do. Which was the
02:36:00first thing he did at Intel. For a while it worked. Then it didn't work and we
had to play a different game. It's not that I could see the possibilities of
microprocessors going into them, but I could see the horrors of the memory
business by staying in it. Then as we went into that--my co-teacher at Stanford
[University] has a phrase; most strategic planning is really instances of what
he calls "strategic recognition." You bumble along until an opportunity comes
and you realize the potential of it and you mine it. I think that describes what
happened to me--the increasing return world of Machiavellian software dependence
02:37:00is a custom of power and balances and stuff. Microprocessors--that's not Gordon.
It could have been Bob, but Bob was then gone from the business. He actually
died before the possibilities of this were at full blast. Bob would have still
needed a Charlie Sporck or me to enforce the discipline. You've got to all march
this thing very carefully--with military precision, particularly because of
02:38:00antitrust laws and equity. There were mine fields all over. That wasn't Bob's
métier, to use your phrase. But he would have relished the possibilities of
doing it. For Gordon, it's not his kind of thing. You need a sociologist. You
see the magic of it was this three-man office. We got along. We understood each
other's contributions and didn't tread too much into it, but pushed them close
02:39:00enough so that the contributions could couple to each other. I don't think it is
a very frequent occurrence.
THACKRAY: What was the mechanism of interaction--in weekly meetings or in just
GROVE: Both, through most of the time. We did have weekly meetings and my
perception was that, even when I wasn't running them, they were not like
Fairchild meetings. I didn't run them for many years. But they were weekly
02:40:00meetings. The group in the meetings was different. It wasn't a bunch of
middle-aged has-beens who never were; they were a bunch of young, ambitious
people who wanted to get on with developing things and get them in the market.
The meetings were better and the personal interaction was excellent. I just
complained about Gordon's inaction--with one exception, every trouble or any
misgiving I have ever had about Gordon was a case of inaction. I never had any
02:41:00problem with his thoughts or my interaction with him or his understanding of it.
The more I think about the academic advisor the better that sounds. If I wanted
to do something I would walk into his office--"I want to such and such," and he
would tell me what's wrong with it. But he wouldn't tell me, "Do this or do
that," he would rarely give me specific instructions. But I had such profound
respect for his wisdom that he didn't need to. My interaction with Bob was
actually more social. Bob and I became casual friends.
02:42:00THACKRAY: Socially interacting, did you visit each other?
GROVE: Skiing--he taught me to ski. His house, our house. My wife and I got
along with his first wife and our kids were similar ages. We would do things
together in various combinations.
THACKRAY: Where were Gordon and Betty [I. Moore] in this?
GROVE: We never socialized with them. I actually have no idea what their social
life is. I don't know anyone who socialized with them. By the way, that was not
02:43:00necessary. The relationship between Gordon and myself was reading each other's
minds, and so long as he didn't have to do anything, trust that he wouldn't. He
never disappointed me there. I'd love to see his face when he reads this!
[laughter] But you tell me--is his description of the situation during that
period of time at variance with mine?
THACKRAY: No. I think fundamentally it's the same.
02:44:00GROVE: How does he describe his relations with Bob?
THACKRAY: There's very little affect to the description--positive or negative.
GROVE: Emotional affect?
THACKRAY: Yes--it's just a fact of life. Bob did this; I did that. How would you
describe their relationship?
GROVE: I don't know. I'm going to give you a posthumous--way past Bob's death.
02:45:00Once and only once I saw deep irritation in Gordon when somebody was giving the
long-dead Bob credit for something that he thought was unfair. It's an art to
recognize when Gordon is irritated, with the exception that we talked about. He
got emotional and that blew me away and suggested to me that lower level
versions of that emotion must have existed. But I never picked that up. What is
interesting to me about it is Bob, being the charmer with the high profile,
02:46:00overshadowed Gordon. Gordon was the intellectual power behind Intel. Gordon was
in charge then, but by the time Bob's light faded on the scene, my light was
glowing. When I saw that emotion I thought, I wonder how he feels about me. But
he never gave me the slightest indication that he was bothered by the attention
I was getting.
THACKRAY: Let me just ask you one last thing, if I may. I have the enviable, or
the unenviable, task of introducing Gordon next week when he gets the Perkin
02:47:00Medal of the Society of Chemical Industry, which is for technical innovation. If
you were introducing Gordon, what would you say? I'm picking your brains I'm
ashamed to say.
GROVE: He's the brains behind the first half of Intel. Intel is the brains
behind the computer industry--the modern distributed computer industry, which
arguably through the Internet, dah, dah, dah, has changed things as much as
02:48:00electricity. You're dealing with a person who is equivalent to maybe six people
in electricity--because it is recognized that the microprocessor has changed
everything. Gordon has nothing very much to do with the microprocessor, but he
has to do with mass-produced complex integrated circuits, without which
microprocessors would not even be a thought. That's his historical place.
[END OF TAPE, SIDE 3]
[END OF INTERVIEW]