Oral history interview with Isy Haas

  • 2010-Jun-24 – 2010-Jun-25

Isy Haas was born in Istanbul, Turkey. He and his parents were Jewish and Polish citizens, not automatically Turkish. They spoke French and German until World War II, when they ceased speaking German. Haas attended a French Catholic grade school and the English High School for Boys. He was always interested in physics, and at Robert College, where he graduated summa cum laude, he settled on electrical engineering. Experiencing Turkish anti-Semitism, Haas wanted to go to the United States. He matriculated into Princeton University, where he obtained a master's degree in engineering, though his classes were mostly in physics and mathematics. His mentor and advisor was George Warfield, who recognized Haas's "feel" for the way things happen or work, his "physical intuition." One summer he worked for IBM, where he first became interested in computers. Haas accepted a job at Remington Rand Univac in Philadelphia, working on positive-gap diodes under Josh Gray. Haas obtained his first patents there. Remington helped him gain his permanent residence, important because the military was his field's main customer. He left the Northeast for California, where he went to Fairchild Camera and Instrument (later Fairchild Semiconductor); there he worked with Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce, Victor Grinich, and Jay Last. Calling himself a "cynical circuit designer," Haas preferred evaluating devices. He developed Avalanche switching and wrote "a few" papers on four-layer diodes. When Last founded Amelco Corporation, Haas left Fairchild for Amelco and stayed there about seven years, including the years after Amelco was incorporated into Teledyne Technologies. He worked with Lionel Kattner on diffusion, and they evolved a proof of principle for diffused isolation. Haas designed and evaluated most of the integrated circuits originating at Teledyne. Assuming Last's position when Last left, Haas became knowledgeable in many aspects of design and evaluation. He spent a year trying (unsuccessfully) to raise capital for his own company and then went into consulting. At the end of the interview Haas discusses his patent for a two-collector transistor; Teledyne's military work; and the sources and development of equipment and materials. He talks more about Sheldon Roberts and Lionel Kattner. He explains how his move to Chandler, Arizona, improved the quality of his life. He concludes the interview talking about his work on MOS devices for General Instrument Corporation, which finally convinced him that he wanted to be his own boss. He took up what he liked best and did best: developing integrated circuits of all kinds. He had very little competition at first, so he did quite well. Eventually the field expanded and computers were developed to aid with design and simulation. Computers were too expensive for Haas at first, and a gradual decline in work led to his retirement. Haas says he is now attentive to the stock market.

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