Today’s Google Doodle honors Robert Noyce, the man who invented the microchip, which is a critical element for modern electronic devices including personal computers, smartphones, video games, microwaves, and even our cars. Today would have been Noyce’s 84th birthday.
In addition to co-creating the microchip, also known as an integrated circuit, along with Jack Kilby, Noyce is a key figure in the history of the Silicon Valley region – those who know of him compare him to the likes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, though Noyce is hardly a household name despite the huge impact he's had on all our lives.
In Mountain View, California, the city that today serves as Google’s main headquarters, Noyce in 1957 founded Fairchild Semiconductor, which was the first successful silicon company. As Leslie Berlin, author of “Robert Noyce: The Man Behind the Microchip” discussed in a talk at Google in 2007, under Noyce’s leadership, Fairchild had 11,000 employees and $12 million in profits and “in a lot of ways it was the Google of its time.”
After leaving Fairchild, Noyce founded a little company called Intel in 1968. It didn’t stay little for long.
"Optimism is an essential ingredient of innovation,” Noyce once wrote. “How else can the individual welcome change over security, adventure over staying in safe places?"
Noyce died in 1990 at the age of 62, but his impact on our world lives on. Were it not for the invention of the microchip, there would be (likely) be no Google or even the Internet.
The video below featuring Berlin speaking at Google goes into great detail about Noyce’s life. Give it a watch for a great rundown of Noyce’s life.