Born: November 24, 1924
Died: November 4, 2000
Victor Grinich was one of the co-founders of Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957. Fairchild made the first mass-produced integrated circuit and launched Silicon Valley as the center for the computer industry.
Grinich was born in 1924 in Aberdeen, Washington to Croatian immigrant parents. He joined the Navy in 1942, changing his name from Grgurinovich to Grinich. He enrolled at the University of Washington with the Navy’s help, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering. He later moved to the San Francisco area, where he obtained a doctorate from Stanford University in 1953.
In 1956, William Shockley won the Nobel Prize for physics after co-inventing the electronic transistor. He created a start-up company to develop this technology and hired Grinich as an electrical engineer. Grinich and seven other physicists, mathematicians, and metallurgists—who became known as the “traitorous eight”—left Shockley’s company in 1957 to start Fairchild Semiconductor. They included physicist Robert Noyce. Under the leadership of Sherman Fairchild and Richard Hodgson, it grew to become a $786 million company by 2000 with 8,000 employees.
Grinich left Fairchild in 1968 and founded a number of other small technology companies. One company, Identronix, pioneered the development of radio frequency identification tags (RFID), which have become vital to logistics and industrial processes. He taught at Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley and co-wrote a textbook, “Introduction to Integrated Circuits,” in 1975.