Palo Alto, CA, 2013
RB: Hello, I’m Robert Blair for the Silicon Genesis Program at Stanford University Libraries. Today, October the 2nd, 2013, we will be talking to Elliott Sopkin, a career Public Relations expert that has lived the excitement and the rise of Silicon Valley in the early sixties. Elliott began his semiconductor life at Fairchild, the genesis of the industry. He then moved to Advanced Micro Devices, joining Jerry Sanders, who has also been interviewed for these archives – where Elliott stayed for over twenty years through some of the most interesting times at AMD. Today’s interview will be conducted by Geri Hadley, herself a semiconductor veteran and a collaborator in the Silicon Genesis Program. Let’s now talk to Elliott Sopkin.
GH: Hello. Let’s get started Elliott. We want to hear your recollections and stories. First, tell us a little bit about your background. Where were you born? Where’d you grow up? Where’d you go to school and tell us a little bit about your family, too.
ES: Well I was born in Illinois Central Hospital in Chicago in October of 1935. At age ten, right at the end of the war, we moved to Atlanta. My father had been to Atlanta twice. My father was a musician. He had been to Atlanta twice, the previous two Christmases, to conduct a collection of high school students and high school teachers and some local musicians who formed a Christmas group – a Christmas orchestra. And so he would go down and they’d have two or three rehearsals and they’d have a concert. Then some people in Atlanta decided it was time for Atlanta to step into the ranks of symphony orchestras. So they hired Henry to be the originator, first musician, first – that’s wrong. Anyway, let’s start back with – oh you don’t edit this. Well you’ve have to edit it there. They hired Henry to be the musical director and conductor of the Atlanta Youth Orchestra. After a couple of seasons, it became the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. And as you well know, it’s a fairly reasonably recognized symphony orchestra in this country and the world. He was there twenty-one years. I went to Emory University in Atlanta. I have a BA degree and I went to Columbia University in New York and I have an MS degree.
GH: In what?
ES: In journalism actually, from the Pulitzer School of Journalism at Columbia University. I left Columbia in 1961, went back to Atlanta, picked up my MG TD car which was on blocks in my old man’s garage and drove to Oxnard, California, where I had a job waiting for me as a newspaper reporter. My only goal in life was to live on the beach. I had been to California numerous times when I was a kid and beach living was for me. So I got a job in the Oxnard Press-Courier. I lived on the beach, not across the street. I lived on the beach in a garage apartment that cost me eighty dollars a month furnished. It probably was 400 square feet, maybe 350 square feet and it was spectacular. I happened to have lived next door to a man named Edwin J. Turney. Anyway, I was in Oxnard for four and a half years. Two years I covered City Hall, two and half years I covered Ventura County government, some courts but mostly government. I then moved to Mesa, Arizona, little town right outside of Phoenix where I joined up with my college roommate who had inherited this huge weekly newspaper and printing business. And he – I ran the – I ran the paper and a big – we had sixty page tabloid a week and he ran the printing business. We had a massive press. And after about a year and a half, we managed to bankrupt this mother. So we then went looking around for a property to buy, Mac and I and his mama met us. We didn’t find anything right away and I was beginning to spend – spend my capital which in those days, probably maybe made a little over $300, maybe I had $400. So I decided to go – it was time for me to go back to work. I moved in with Ed Turney. Ed Turney, at this time, was selling transistors for some company called Fairchild Semiconductor, a division of Fairchild Camera and Instrument out of Syosset, New York. And Ed and Beverly took me in while I looked for work. I had the greatest offer. I had an offer to be the Assistant City Editor of the San Diego Union and – which I thought was just spectacular. Ed said no, you really have to go take a look at Fairchild and I’ll make a couple of phone calls. So Ed made a couple of phone calls and I went up and took a look at Fairchild and I just couldn’t believe it. It was something like I – I had never seen. The newspaper in Oxnard – we probably had five general purpose writers, two sports guys, two women’s page writers plus, you know, typesetters, printers, salesmen, circulation but, you know, maybe there were 75 people. You walk into Fairchild in 1965. I don’t know how many people there were. What – the first thing that strikes you is the bustle. And bustle is – can be real, can be not – but at Fairchild, you know, they had loud speaker systems that were uncontrolled. Anybody it seems could page. And you’re walking, you’re trying to do something, bam, someone’s paging somebody. They finally obviously made certain limitations to that. So I took a look at these people and there was a – a young man named Richard Malay who ran the PR Department, who was this beautiful soul, who has – has the – just the loveliest touch with the English language that you’ve ever seen. And he had two or three people working for him. One was an exquisite sports writer named Manny Robles and a couple of other people who were pretty nondescript. And I got the feeling they didn’t know why they were there. I didn’t know – I didn’t understand business. My business expertise showing – you know, was floundered. It was – I was rated as a flounderer from my Arizona experiences. And you talk to these people and I couldn’t understand why a company that manufactured anything would want to have a PR department. And, you know, they couldn’t tell me. And then I would say to somebody, “Are you people any good at this?” And the guy said, “What do you mean, are we any good?” I said, “I don’t know. Do you make money?” I thought that was a clever question. And the guys says [laughter] “Well what does that mean?” I said, “Well, do you sell them for more than it costs to make them? How’s that for a starter?” And he didn’t know. Couple of guys in the PR department did not know. Obviously Dick Malay knew. Obviously Manny Robles know – knew. So I thought that was pretty interesting. And then I met Mr. Malay’s boss. Mr. Malay’s boss, may he rest in peace, was a guy named Gene McClenning. Gene McClenning was a finger-snapping, fast-talking, well-dressed man who was exquisitely competent at what he did and was a no-nonsense, high energy, high energy guy. And we talked for a while and he said, “Why do I want somebody with a history degree in this department?” And I looked at this guy and I said, “Well the history degree really is kind of old hat. It’s the journalism degree you’re interested in and – because I can write English. And I have to assume that very few people within this building, other than in your department can really write English. Now I don’t know if you have a need for people that can write English, if you have a need for English, but that’s what I bring to the party.” So I went to work there. And it was fascinating.
GH: So what was it like, you know, when you first landed there? What were the people like? What were some of the people you were working with exposed to? I was there at the same time and I actually sat on the opposite side of the partition from you and could hear a lot of your conversations. And I remember -
GH: [laughter] Very – no, not.
ES: I believe that was – subdued was – subdued was what I was probably known for. Well -
GH: But there was a – it was pretty exciting place.
ES: Well it was strange. It was just – for a guy from Georgia, and you know I only lived nine months in New York so I’m not really, you know, of – of northern cultural extraction. There was just – it was just strange happenings. My first job was to improve Fairchild’s exposure with full length articles in the technical magazines, the technical and semi-technical magazines. What that means is magazines were defined by their audiences. And one group went after a certain type of designers and another magazine went after a certain type of application people. Another one was this – interested in this. And then there were some general purpose technical magazines, electronic magazine from McGraw-Hill, ED magazine. So my job was to get full length articles from our engineers into these magazines, which is where I come across your friend Rob Walker. So I would learn that the magazine wants a discussion of an XYZ component and how it affects such and such a circuit and this and that and the other thing. So I would go and I’d of course had no idea what this meant. These were – were very few words in English in these descriptions. So I’d go up to Rob Walker and I’d say, “What is this?” And Rob Walker would explain it to me. And he said, “Well, let me see if I can do something for you.” Two days later, here’s two thousand words. So Rob Walker sustained me in those early days and would point me in the right directions if necessary. My job was to make these articles palatable. What that means is I would rewrite the first few hundred words, try to make them easy to understand. I would get Larry Bender, the art director, to redo some drawings and make them pretty, possibly get the fine Richard Steinheimer to make a photograph or something. And then I’d submit to the magazine. And the idea was to get it printed. And if it didn’t work there, you redo it so it works here. Didn’t work there, you’d redo it. I found that to be pretty interesting. But let me tell you the first – the first strange thing that happened. I get called in by Mr. McClenning, my – because Mr. Malay wasn’t there or something. Mr. McClenning calls me in and he says, “I want you to go to Washington Thursday” or Tuesday, whatever the hell it was. And I said, “Fine. What am I doing?” And he says, “You’re going with,” and I’m not going to mention names because I’m not going to liable the founder of Fairchild Camera or Semiconductor. Anyway, “You’re taking this guy to his technical meeting in Washington and then you’re going to proceed on – and you go on to New York and meet the editors. You haven’t met these people. You haven’t been to New York.” Got it. So I pick up the engineer in question that morning, go to the plane, da da da da. I’m trying to figure out – I can’t figure out why I’m here. We get off the plane, getting ready to grab a cab to go to the hotel where the conference is and I look at him and I said, “Where’s your briefcase?” He didn’t have his briefcase which I then learned why I was there. So, of course, I go run – these were the days before you had security. I go running back to the airplane, climb onto the airplane and find the missing briefcase. So I found that to be quite interesting. Here was a PhD and he was an absent-minded professor. I’ve – so that was kind of joyous. So that’s what I did. Ask me another one.
GH: So you spent how many years – about what, four or five years at Fairchild?
ES: Four and a half.
GH: And you spent most all of that – I think you eventually were running public relations if I recall?
ES: It took about a – what – yes. Mr. Malay left – I was there about six or eight months – Mr. Malay left and Manny took over. And Manny was just a joy to work for, especially when we entertained. Manny was always fun. Remember this is the mid-sixties and January, February and March – anybody who lives in New York is dying for an excuse to come to California. So we would get a lot of editorial visits. And Manny and I would have to entertain. So the editor would come in and we would line him up with various peoples – people. And then we’d take them out. Well, Manny and I had no problem with fine dinners. These guys didn’t want fine dinners. They wanted to go to Broadway. Broadway, as you may remember in San Francisco in those days, was topless. The whole place was topless. They had a topless shoe shining stand. And these guys from New York just couldn’t believe it. It got so that – and you – you’d go and you had to pay a price to get in and this, that and the other thing. When we walked into one place one night and they knew my – the bouncer knew my first name, I knew I was in trouble. It was just time. Now, on the same subject, when Mr. – there was another gentleman who is no longer with us, George Rostky was the Editor-in-Chief of a magazine called EEE. And he was going to pay a visit. So Dick Malay decided that I was there long enough that I could shepherd him through some engineers. Malay gave me the list of what we wanted to accomplish, who we wanted to accomplish it with. I made appointments. And, of course, what I did was I got copies of George Rostky’s magazine and said to each person, “This will be on your desk when I walk in, right?” Right. So we go through three or four people and we show up at Badge 9. Badge 9 at Fairchild Semiconductor was a gentleman named Murray Siegel. Murray Siegel ran some sort of linear applications in those days. And we walk into Murray’s office and there’s the magazine, just right where it’s supposed to be. And George looks at Murray, two nice Jewish boys, Murray I see you read my magazine. Murray looks at him, he says, “George, I wouldn’t read this shit.” Sopkins says it has to be within plain view. It’s in plain view.
GH: That’s Murray.
ES: That’s Murray.
GH: He’s still that way. So did you do – were you involved with the business press at all or just the technical press while you were at Fairchild or did that happen later when you joined AMD and -
ES: Well I’ll give you a funny story. I don’t know if you like stories. After I was there about a year or so, I became the PR Manager, year and a half, Manny Robles went to work for the corporate PR department, which was moved out and located in Mountain View where we were and I took his job. So I’ll give you two quick stories. I was going to New York on a fairly regular basis and my brother who was in the book publishing business was in New York. And one night I took him to dinner and always took him to a reasonable dinner, came back and turned in my expense account. And Mr. McClenning looks at it and says, “Gee, here’s a guy on your expense account whose name is – why it’s the same – same as yours. Could be you’re taking your family to dinner on company money?” I said, “Could be it is.” I said he got me into the New York Times, ABC network and This Week magazine. And McClenning doesn’t – doesn’t flinch. And he said, “And this is the best we can buy this guy? We can’t do better?” So I would see a lot of strange people in New York, people that maybe would eventually be of interest to – to some – me, someone. I called on a guy who was a producer at ABC. I think it was ABC, CBS, whatever. Anyway, the program was What’s My Line. And my concept was that we would get a great engineer who had good presence to send to What’s My Line and we would build a pair of nice gold cufflinks with a microchip embedded in them. And after the guy was either guessed or not guessed, he would hand Mr. Daly, John Daly, the cufflinks and say we made these for you. There is enough computing power right here to send a missile to, you know, (inaudible) wherever. So we go along with this and one night I’m working late and in comes the maid. The maid is a nineteen, twenty year old, drop dead gorgeous girl who has – who is very fluent. We talk. She speaks well. Turns out she’s going to college working as a – as a cleanup person at Fairchild at night, da da da da da. I said this one’s it. So I send her over to Mr. Steinheimer who photographs her. Send the whole thing off to New York and, sure enough, they love her. So I get ahold of her foreman and I said look, I can’t go to New York with this child but we’re not sending her out there without a chaperone. Company’s paying. You’ll live okay but she has to be chaperoned. Sure enough – anyway, the girl went on What’s My Line. She was outstanding. They did guess what she did but she gave him these gold cufflinks and he asked a few questions about what’s a microchip and how many transistors are there and will it really run a computer? And every other word was Fairchild Camera. It was spectacular. And, sure enough, nine months later, she was – she delivered a child.
GH: In 1970, you left for AMD.
ES: I did.
GH: And that was a hot new startup in The Valley. Sixty-eight was Intel. Nineteen Seventy was AMD.
ES: Sixty-seven was National.
GH: National and Jerry Sanders and, let’s see, Jack Gifford and there were – there were quite a colorful crew over at AMD. And these people – everything they did, they did with a special style. So it’s no surprise they took you over there. And so you went over in 1970 and I know it was still kind of a startup phase and just tell us about that and – and your years at AMD because I – I think this is really close to your heart.
ES: Well AMD is the – was – it was Camelot. That – that’s all you can say. It was just spectacular. When – when I went to AMD, I was number 52. And Mr. Sanders interviewed me a couple times and he snuck me in the side door. Let me tell you how I got started with AMD. I don’t know how much time you have. Let me go back. In 1962 or 3, my fine neighbor on Oxnard Beach, Edwin J. Turney had a party for the Los Angeles Sales Office of Fairchild. And all these guys are on the beach and, of course, none of these guys are over whatever, 26, 27. But the one stands out is this six foot three giant of a man who had – who – who was obviously a weight lifter. Had more hair than God had intended for any twelve people. And it was Jerry Sanders. And somehow or other, I – I meet him, getting a piece of dinner or whatever. And he says, “So you’re the newspaper boy that lives next door.” [laughter] And I looked at him and I said, “And I said you’re my friend Ed’s boss, are you?” Anyway, I don’t see Jerry until about, you know, six months or nine months or a year later and I’m already employed at Fairchild and there he is in the hall. And I say, “Good morning Mr. Sanders.” And I walk on and he stops and yells at me. And he says, “Come here.” Says, “Who are you? Why do you know my name?” He said, “I am the greatest salesman in the world. I don’t forget names and I don’t know who you are.” And I said, “You shouldn’t.” And da da da da da da da da and I – so that’s – that was the first time I – I really ever met Jerry. Anyway, when they founded AMD, I was living in a little apartment in Mountain View on Easy Street which always looks good when you send stuff to your former classmates in New York City if you’re living on Easy Street in Mountain View. When they founded it, they didn’t have any money. They just didn’t have any money. Ed Turney didn’t have a place to live. So he slept on my couch. Jerry felt obligated. He slept on my couch for months.
GH: This is when they founded AMD?
ES: When they founded AMD in, you know, May and June of 1969. And they were, you know, making – building – drawing buildings and drawing this and doing that. And, I mean, they were all together, the eight of them. So -
GH: Who were the founders of AMD?
ES: The founders of AMD.
GH: Who? Who were -
ES: Who were they?
ES: Well here’s the book.
ES: So – should we read them?
GH: Test your memory.
ES: Well my memory, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. Mr. Sanders and Mr. Turney and then we had Digital Circuits and they were designed by a man named Sven Simonsen and built by a man named John Carey. Then we had linear circuit but with the linear circuits, we got an applications guy named Jack Gifford, known as “Captain Jack.” Engineer type manufacturing guy named Frank Botte and then Larry Stenger who was really the fab man. That should have been all of them. And if I missed one, I’m sorry.
GH: Okay. So what was it like at AMD in those days? You were running HR as I recall?
ES: Well I was. And – and that was part of the deal.
GH: And corporate communications.
ES: Well we didn’t have anything to communicate about because we – we had not produced saleable silicon yet when I started. We had produced testable silicon but we didn’t produce the saleable silicon. And, as you know, we introduced at some early date eighteen circuits, nine linear and nine – nine digital. The – I did run – I – I did run personnel and all that related to it. And that was Jerry’s reason to hire me. He couldn’t hire me to be a PR guy. They didn’t have anything to PR. So – and, of course, some of the people like Jack Gifford who had been running Human Relations or whatever they’re called – HR – was delighted to have me because he would now unload this whole pile of stuff of hiring people and firing people and making Blue Cross Blue Shield and all – and all of these kinds of things. So that’s what I did. We were small. Everybody worked hard. There were – there were a lot of interesting – the concepts were – were pretty straightforward. A small group of dedicated, brilliant people could turn a concept into a deliverable product before anyone else could and because everything was military standard. What that meant was everything that came out of the door qualified for Minute Man or any other military program.
GH: So all your products were military from the get-go?
ES: Mil standard or better. And so that when you bought a hundred whatevers from Texas Instruments or Fairchild, you would expect a certain number of failures. We provided no failures, well or the slightest of minimum failures. So it was hard working people who cared what they were doing, who focused. And in those days, nobody talked hours. So I’ll give you an example of that. They had – Jerry had a staff which was eight founders and two directors, maybe three directors. We didn’t have titles in those days. There were no vice presidents. There were directors, there were – there was a president. So the directors were – the two directors at least was Rich Previte, the finance minister and – and me. So we’d have these meetings. So here it is Friday night, Jerry’s staff meeting and it’s 9:00, 9:30 and somebody says “Enough! It’s late. Let’s go home.” And Sanders looks at his watch and he says, “Absolutely.” He said, “All right, we’ll pick it up in the morning at 8:00.” And somebody said, “Tomorrow’s Saturday.” He says, “Right. Sleep in. We’ll pick it up at 9:00.” And – and that’s all it took. And when you showed up at 9:00 and if it was raining, you better get there really early because you weren’t going to – you weren’t going to have a good parking place. The place was filled.
GH: On a Saturday?
ES: On a Saturday. You worked – if you – if you got a Sunday off, that was really great. Saturdays, you’d get a half a day off maybe. But it was, you know, it was sixty hour weeks and they always said – I was there a week and I was behind a month before the first week was I say – I can’t believe this. But everybody focused. Some people questioned the – I didn’t have a typewriter. Well how you going to fill out all those forms? You got to have a typewriter. I mean, we had a secretary, right. The company had a secretary, may she rest in peace, Carol Jean Rossi. So I went out and bought a typewriter. Walked in, finance guy, “You owe me $123.” Well, you know, what’s this, what’s – who gave you permission? Tools of the trade I said. What do you want me to fill out these forms with a pencil? So everybody was focused on the – on the appropriate thing. Sanders would come in and – I went out and bought a pencil sharpener. This only tells you what – what it was like. I went out and bought an electric pencil sharpener, I always wanted one. My money, all twelve or fourteen dollars. And Sanders comes into my office and he’s kind of looking into the corner where this pencil sharpener is and he’s a little nervous. And he’s trying to figure out well, you know, you – to make Jerry Sanders a little nervous, there’s something wrong. And finally he says, “What is that?” I says, “It’s an electric pencil sharpener.” He said, “The company didn’t pay for that!” And I said, “Jerry do you – do I look like the kind of guy who’s going to buy a electric pencil sharpener on the company?” And he said, “You didn’t answer the question.” I said, “Of course the company did not pay for that. I paid for it.” He says, “Good.” Five minutes later, there he is with all fifteen of his pencils. Doesn’t matter what I’m doing, he starts sharpening his pencils. So we were very careful about money, very careful about money.
GH: That was part of the semiconductor industry – we were careful about money. I think it was inherent.
ES: I think it was inherent more with small companies that didn’t have anything.
GH: Even at Fairchild though we were careful about money.
ES: Well that’s because at Fairchild, they were losing so much. [laughter]
GH: Eventually but not initially.
ES: Anyway -
GH: So – so – so how -
ES: I’ll give you another one. We – we had – AMD had a lot of trouble getting a distributor. A distributor, as you know, sells your products as well as other products that are competitive and keeps them on the shelves. And to have a distributor is required in the semiconductor business, probably in most electronic businesses. And we couldn’t get one because the one we wanted was being told by Fairchild to stay away from us. But it turns out that Mr. Sanders and Mr. Turney were very close to Mr. Hamilton of Hamilton Electronics. And Mr. Hamilton bought a company called Avnet. And they decided that we were going to – Avnet would handle AMD. So and Fairchild couldn’t complain about that. So Sanders, of course, says he wants a party. And he says, “Here’s what I want.” He said, “I want champagne, food and everything and your budget’s $100” or something like that. But, you know, I hate to say it – you can buy an awful lot of some stuff that you and I may have – used to drink called Cold Duck and pizza for a hundred bucks.
GH: So AMD was known to be bold, have a lot of style. They – they – they put a mark on the map. Part of it was Jerry’s personality – bigger than life personality but you always did everything. It looked to the outside world that you did it like first cabin.
ES: Well, first of all, we only hired people with style. Nah, that’s not true.
GH: Is it true everybody had to drive a Mercedes?
ES: No. No, but here’s what happened. I – I had a Saab. I had a three cylinder Saab which the engine is guaranteed for life. It’s called a shrike. And Sanders hated this car. He – he couldn’t believe it. And, in those days, we were like twenty minutes to the airport. And one day at noon, Sanders comes running around. He needs – needs a ride to the airport. And it’s the middle of July and there’s nobody there and, you know, “Give me a ride to the airport. Come on.” So we jump into my Saab car and we were motoring off down to the air – down to – to get the airport – to the airport. And he says, “Turn on the air conditioning.” He said, “I – I – I’m drenched.” And he says, “I’m going to get on the airplane. The stewardesses are all going to be embarrassed at looking at me and then I have a meeting with who – whoever, Tony Hamilton.” And he says, “I’m going to be wet from my shoulder to – to waist.” So I said, “This is it.” So it’s not that – it’s not that many months later that it’s salary review time and we’re talking. And we have a – we’re at a restaurant. We go to the same -
GH: Were you reporting to Jerry?
ES: Yeah, I always worked for Jerry. That’s the only way – well – the communications effort of a corporation have to be endorsed by the Chief Executive Officer. They can’t be – they might even be formulated by the Chief Executive Officer. But they can’t be – can’t pass it down. Anyway, I’m having a salary review with Mr. Sanders and Mr. Sanders says da da da da da. Our salary reviews were always the same. He said, “What do you want?” I said, “Well here’s what I want. I want to get rid of the guard service.” I was the one that when there was a bomb threat, three in the morning, they call me. And, of course, many times the bomb threats were from some girlfriend’s buddy, boyfriend who wants her to get off early from the graveyard shift to come home, go to dinner, whatever, they’d call in a bomb threat. Well that’s cute. And, of course, about the third one, I said, “Back to work.” We cleared out the house. Cops said everything was good. I said, “Nobody’s going home now. Back to work.” And they quit. Anyway, I was really tired of doing security. It was, you know, I had a – I walked in one night and there was a guard sitting there flipping a baton with his boots on – jack boots on – on the desk like a Nazi. Because I lived nearby and any time I went out, if I didn’t have anything to drink, I’d stop by the factory, make sure all’s well. And I look at this and I can’t believe it. So, of course, I fired him on the spot and got to sit from two until six AM as the guard. And nobody stole the factory while I was on duty. Anyway, so I said to Sanders, “You got to get me out of this.” And Sanders says, “Well, you know, you want some more money, you want some more stock, you want…” I said, “Yes, yes, yes but more importantly.” Sanders then says – so he says, “Here’s what I was thinking.” Bla bla whatever, twelve shares of stock, nine dollars a month, whatever. I said okay. He said well you don’t seem very happy with that. And by now, this is like my second or third year there and I – I should know him a little better and I don’t. I said, “What – what do you mean very happy? What – what is so good about what you’re offering me?” And then he says, “But you don’t do any – you don’t do the things I want you to do.” I said, “Well wait a second. Now we shouldn’t even be talking about how much you’re going to give me. We should be talking what the terms of my being fired are.” I said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “Take that car, for instance. Do you think, you know, the future Vice President of a multibillion dollar, Fortune 500 company, yada ya, should be driving that car?” And then, of course, I said the dumb thing. “Do you really think on what you’ve just offered me I can buy a new car?” And that was it. He said, “How much?” And I said, “Well, how about mm, whatever it was.” He said, “Sure.” And I said, “But what are the terms?” He says, “I don’t know.” He says, “I want you to drive a nice car and I’d like you to make some progress to getting it, you know, within three or four months.” I said fine. And I bought myself a 1972 Volvo 18 – P1800 sports car.
GH: I remember that car.
ES: It’s out in the garage. So there you are. I don’t know what to tell you about the early days Geri.
GH: How long did the founders stay together?
ES: A long time. One was fired the first year. So – so Sanders comes into me and he says, “Tell me what is your guard routine during the day?” Now by now you know – you just answer the question. You don’t -
GH: This is – these are the security guards?
ES: Yeah, that works for me, right. Outside firm.
GH: People don’t know maybe that – but the semiconductor industry – all of them had security guards that worked the front desk and at the back door and everybody wore a badge and you checked in because of our – one of our major markets was military.
ES: Well also we had a lot of valuable raw material, gold. We had a lot of strange places that were spectacularly clean and we didn’t want some yokel walking into a clean room. And we didn’t want strangers in our building for whatever reason that the person has decided to come in to sell us something or God forbid, collect a debt from somebody. So we knew – we controlled who was in the factory, was in the building. Not just Advanced Micro Devices. We may have done it a little bit better. Everybody did. So Sanders comes in one morning or one day or one afternoon and he says, “Tell me what the routine is for the guards in the morning or the daytime?” And I said, “I have a guard that walks the interior of the – of the company. I have another one sitting at the employee entrance.” And he says, “All right.” And, of course, you’re trying to figure out what is on this man’s mind?
GH: Why is he asking about the guards?
ES: Why does he want to know these things? And – but by now you’ve learned you don’t question Mr. Sanders. He knows what he’s doing. So he says to me, “Could you have tomorrow morning one of your – one of your lads” or whatever he called them, “maybe patrol more between let’s say your office and my office?” I said “Fine. Would he spend more time near your office and my office Mr. Sanders?” And Mr. Sanders allowed that he might. Fine. That day, that morning at 10:00,the morning in question, Mr. Sanders had Mr. Botte in, a founder, fired him. Mr. Botte jumped across [laughter] the desk and grabbed Jerry by the throat. Jerry let out a scream. The guard was in there in eight seconds and it was done. So afterwards you say – he says, “Boy it worked out great. You know, bozo, whatever his name is did the job.” And you look him in the eye and you say, “How did you know? How did you know the guy was going to go for you” because the guy had no idea he was being fired. None. And he went for him. And Sanders, you know, does – just walks away. He doesn’t – doesn’t say anything. So they stayed together. The next one to leave probably was Captain Jack. Jack got in a major argument with Mr. Sanders about who should run the company and I don’t know if Jack went to the board. I don’t remember the details. But Jack didn’t like the way things were going and tried to change them and he left and as we all know did spectacularly well. Formed another company. Did – made billions. Live happily ever after and – in Hawaii. Ever after came a little too soon for Jack but so be it. The next one to leave was Fast Eddie. Ed Turney was the hardest working guy you’ve ever met. Ed Turney was called Fast Eddie because in the old days, he was in the Navy and he was a – he was a dice shooter or some kind of gambler and did well. I’ll give you a – when I lived on the beach next to Ed Turney, it was my first introduction to any of these crazies. And I’d come home from City Hall or something to pick up some papers or something, four in the afternoon, three in the after – two in the after – there’s Ed on the beach. And, you know, he’s kind of in a little groove area. He’s got his phone on a fifty foot line in his bathing suit, papers all over the place and he’s on the phone and he’s making deals. He’s selling transistors. I said what – what is this? The next time you see Ed, he’s dead drunk, wearing a gorgeous suit and he’s drunk. Now remember we lived, you know, fifty miles from Los Angeles, forty miles, fifty miles, on the beach. So you say Ed, what is it you do that you’re drunk. He said well, he said, you know, he said, “I went in the office about 10:00.” The office was, of course, on Sunset Boulevard and -
GH: It’s known as the Hollywood office.
ES: The Hollywood office. That’s where Mr. Sanders had the office. And he said, “I went in the office and did some paper, yada yada ya.” He said, “I had a lunch date.” He said, “So I picked up the guy at, you know, 1:30 and we went to a topless bar in Santa Monica. Said of course you did. And he said, “We stayed there till 6:30.” And I said right. And he says but I wrote whatever. Eighty thousand dollars’ worth of business with Northridge, Bendix, whoever. So I said of course you did. So that was – that was really my first true introduction to some of the business practices of the semiconductor industry. And whatever it took. Where were we?
GH: You know, Ed Turney, Fast Eddie, was never interviewed for these tapes.
ES: That’s too bad.
GH: It is too bad because we lost him about what three years ago?
ES: Oh, couple years ago.
GH: Yeah. Anymore insight into him as long as you’re – you knew him so well?
ES: Well, Eddie was – Eddie was a heart. Eddie – Eddie believed in AMD like Jerry. Eddie worked like you can’t believe. In the early days, Eddie ran sales. Eddie – Eddie also was a purchasing agent. He bought the building. He bought the tubes. He bought the this. He bought the that. He bought – he bought everything because what do you need with a salesman if you don’t have anything to sell? Eddie -
GH: Did he run sales initially?
ES: Yes. But anytime there was a piece of business, I mean, you know, $27, you know, so and so in Chicago. He’s on the plane. He wants to make sure he closed the deal. And he hired three great guys to start with. Stevie Zelencik who you’ve interviewed, a guy – another guy who’s no longer with us, Stevie Marks out of New York and then a fellow named Chuck Kehoe who I don’t know if he’s with us, out of Chicago. Anyway, Eddie was a man for everything. Eddie did everything. Eddie had everything. He lived very well on the beach. I – in about 1963, Mother’s Day, maybe it was 1964, there was a massive earthquake in Alaska. And Oxnard is right next to Port Hueneme which is where there was a major Seabees base and the Seabees were flying up and they called up the newspaper and said hey, we got to see. So I call up Ed. I said I’m going to Alaska. I don’t have any clothes. And Ed comes home from wherever he was and, of course, Ed was a duck hunter. Bam. Ed has everything. Eddie couldn’t believe – Eddie had a lot of trouble understanding Silicon Valley also at first because Eddie was down in – in Los Angeles which was nutty enough. I – I remember he was married but it was getting real shaky with Beverly and he’d come up and, you know, we’d go out. We’d do this. We’d do that. And even when they were separated, Eddie was straight and narrow and he’d say to you, “I can’t believe all the women around here. How do you find time to do work?” And he found it amazing that there are so many women who would avail themselves of him. And after he got divorced, I think he even participated. Ed – Ed collected things. Ed collected silver coins and – and treasures and -
GH: He was an interesting, good guy.
ES: He was a solid. I’ll give you one bad – Ed – Ed and I didn’t speak once for fourteen years. So Ed had left AMD and Ed had gotten into one too many public fights with Jerry. And they severed. And what they – they severed reasonably amicably. So by then, we were a public stock company. And we were reporting quarterly. And, of course, I had all the – I did the reporting. So Ed would call and we’d talk for hours. And hey whatever happened to this and I’d tell him and get real close to the line. And hey did we ever get that order from – yeah, I’d tell him. How do we look for this quarter? Well looks like we’ll probably, you know, get what we’ve been telling the analysts all along. We’ll probably be pretty close. Well that’s not a very exact number. I said well, you know Ed, not sure.
GH: But he was gone from AMD?
ES: He was gone from AMD. He says sure you’re sure it’s your job to know to the penny. I said well you know what, I do know to the penny and you know I’m not going to discuss it because that’s the deal. That’s not – that’s the deal with Securities Exchange Commission. He says, “I want you to know, you know, I’m a major shareholder.” I said, “I know exactly how much stock you have but in the eyes of the Security Exchange Commission, you have no more investment than my mother and her hundred shares. So you don’t get any more information than Sylvia gets.” Anyway, I run into him the next whatever, week, night, Wagon Wheel Bar, Eddie how ya doin’, put out my hand. He says, “Not only am I not going to shake your hand, I’m never going to speak to you again.” And he didn’t speak to me for fourteen years. And we would run into each other in the bathroom. There would be a big semiconductor industry -
GH: SIA dinner.
ES: SIA dinner and there’d be eight billion people and run into him in the bathroom. I can’t believe this is happening. Hey Ed, how ya doin’? [grunts] But I’d get a grunt or two. And finally, you know, when he was diagnosed with brain cancer and he was already in the joint. He was in the joint probably a year and, you know, I went up every week.
GH: At the Forum.
ES: Forum, yeah, the Forum.
GH: Yeah, I used to go visit him too.
ES: We’d go up – and Benjy and I would go up every week and he was a good man. And what it – what was good about him is the way he took care of his family. He would get on an airplane the night before Christmas with stuff. I don’t know what the deals were in those days for baggage but he always would exceed them and he would be taking Christmas presents to George’s kids, to his nephews, to his nieces, to whatever. He was the most generous guy. Eddie’s the guy that if you’re put in jail, you know, and you’re, God forbid, in the middle of Nebraska and you’ve run over some farmer’s dog and you’re in jail, you call up Eddie. Now, you know, and he – he does it, you know, bam.
GH: Okay. So I remember -
ES: Well it’s time for my nap. Yes dear.
GH: I remember a short lived love fest between AMD and Intel, the partner chip ad.
ES: Partner chip ad?
GH: Yeah, were you involved in that?
ES: I did it.
GH: Well tell us.
ES: Except that wasn’t – was it Intel? I guess it was Intel.
GH: It was Intel. Remember the – the – the cufflinks.
ES: All I remember is that the cufflinks were on the wrong – on – on the wrong – on the wrong cuff. They were (inaudible). Well -
GH: But it still looked good in the ad.
ES: My ad agency was Keye Donna and Pearlstein. They were three guys who in the early seventies broke off from Faust Day. Now I’m not sure if it was called Faust Day then.
GH: I think it was.
ES: But it probably was. Faust Day, as we all remember, was the brilliant people who engineered the Fairch – campaign for Fairchild. And these were the three guys – or two of the guys that had done it. There was – the artist was a fellow named Mario Donna. The copyrighter was Paul Keye and then they grabbed Lenny Pearlstein to run the business. So these three guys had started a boutique ad agency and they were spectacular. They didn’t want anything to do with industrial clients. But, of course, they couldn’t say no to Jerry Sanders. So the ad in question was when we signed – now I’m really hazy on this because this was really a long time ago and it’s pretty vague. We signed the initial 86 – x86 agreement with Intel. And what the initial agreement was is that we would get the microprocessor. And, in those days, it was probably the 286 or it might have been the 186. It wasn’t the 8080. It was at least a generation later than that, probably started with the 286. We would get the 286 – we would get the microprocessor from Intel, meaning they would give us the masks to build the product. And Advanced Micro Devices would develop the peripheral parts which we had already had a head start on. The peripheral parts are the various connectors that the microprocessor goes through to the various parts of the system. So that – we would trade and Intel indeed had not developed any of those. And it was a pretty good agreement. Good enough that both parties signed it, therefore it was – it was fair to both. And we did a ad saying that we are now partners with Intel. And it was a great deal. Course, we had some problems with it. Intel would never – didn’t always send you the latest versions or if there were some problems with the chip out in the field, Intel didn’t send you the updates and the software or things like that which, of course, ended up in court which, of course, ended up in a huge suit with guys like Hector writing books and all that. Billions of dollars. Oh, AMD, of course, won the suit. So one day I’m in court – this is ’88 or ’89. I’ve already left AMD. I left AMD in 1988 because my wife became pregnant. And Sanders said – years ago said – he said, “You know, the reason you haven’t gotten married is you can’t do both. You can’t do your job and get married.” He said, “You’ve got to learn how to do both.” And, of course, Sanders’ great line always was “Don’t work so hard. I want you to work smart, not hard.” Hey, I’m working smart, believe me. But – so I go to court and it’s part of this hearing. And here’s Jerry in court. Jerry is wearing a Seiko type leather-banded watch which is – actually it was a plastic, which is not necessarily Jerry’s style. Jerry has no little handkerchief in his pocket. He is wearing what could well be described as a Macy’s necktie, not an Aramis or, you know, whomever. And you almost think it’s – his cuffs were frayed. [laughter] I mean, he was gorgeous. And he testified at and he looked at that jury and he looked at each member and he looked at each member and he was on. I have known Jerry Sanders for 25 – I’ve worked for him for 25 years but this guy was on. So he testified and I went out and bought options on AMD. I wasn’t working for the company. I went out and bought options on AMD stock and, sure enough, won that case. This was the first case they won. Stock went boom. I made a fortune. Take a fortune to mean eight, ten thousand dollars which still is a fortune to me but, you know. So I don’t know what the point here is.
GH: Just talking about the Intel-AMD deal but I think you -
ES: So well, you know, and in the – in the end -
GH: It lasted what, a year or two?
ES: No, it lasted forever.
GH: Oh it did?
ES: In the end, Intel was found to be guilty of all kinds of things and gave – actually – actually they settled I believe. I don’t know the detail. I know it was for a billion and a quarter. That’s 1.25 billion which is probably far less than AMD should have settled for. I don’t believe Mr. Sanders was at the helm in those – when the settlement was made.
GH: Okay, so you left AMD when you married Sherry.
ES: Well I left AMD when Sherry was about four months pregnant. And – which was kind of a surprise to both of us. I don’t know why it should have been a surprise. I mean, you know, we were both participating in whatever it took. And I had decided that number one is I want to be here for my kid but more importantly, I had to build my kid a cradle. That I wasn’t having my son start off life in a store-bought cradle. Now I didn’t know how to hold a saw yet. So and indeed I built a cradle. And indeed six or eight kids have used that cradle. But it started off with David Jeremiah Sopkin. David Jeremiah Sopkins, isn’t that an interesting name? So we sent out a – Sherry designed some goofy little birth certificate of birth notice and we sent out this birth notice. And Mr. Sa – Mr. Sanders let’s remember is Walter Jeremiah Sanders, III. Mr. Sanders calls up and he says, “Your kid is named Jeremiah.” I says, “Indeed he is.” He says, “Well congratulations. Gee, I thought – everything’s well – Sherry’s…” Yep, yep, yep, yep. He said, “Well Jeremiah, not an unusual name. Where’d that come from?” I said, “Well, you know, my brother’s name was Jeremy or is Jeremie, that’s kind of close.” And I said, “You know, Jeremiah’s quite a big time prophet, nice Jewish boy.” And I said, “To tell you the truth Jerry, you know, my wife loved that movie Jeremiah Johnson the mountain man.” So that was it. Now Sanders, that’s just making him crazy. And I must tell you that one of the few joys in world – in this world was to get Jerry a little bit off his – his game. Jerry used to line up all his pencils in a nice, little neat line. Turn his back one day and I turned one of the pencils over. And he sits – comes back or sits down and he just couldn’t figure – there was something bothering him. And then he realized what it was, fixed the pencil, didn’t know that I had turned it over. Anyway, Jerry shows up at the door one day and I handed him David and I said, “Meet your godfather.” So – but indeed my son is named after Jerry Sanders because Jerry Sanders is one of the most spectacular people in the world.
GH: So you left AMD and then you hung out your own shingle and started doing a -
ES: Well I didn’t. Jerry, I didn’t. You know -
GH: You did some consulting.
ES: Well I did. Mr. – when I left AMD, I went into Mr. – well I went into – I handed Mr. Sanders, you know, my – my resignation. And nobody really – it’s unbelievable that people were afraid to go in and resign to him. One guy had slid it under his door. Another founder had left a note in his desk, you know, knowing he was out of the office. I walked in. What’s this? I said I’m leaving. What does that mean? I said “I’m quitting.” He says, “When does this take place?” I said, “At your convenience.” It says, “It says thirty days. You want me out in the morning? You want me out in sixty days? What – at the convenience of the company.” Why are you leaving. I said, “Sherry’s pregnant. We’re going to have a son.” Gives me a hug. Now Jerry Sanders doesn’t touch men. He shakes their hand. He may pat you on the back but he doesn’t – he’s just not affectionate toward men. So I was very touched by that. And, of course, he was very touched. He wrote this lovely – lovely note, you know, to the staff – memo. So I left and I left well. They – I had to explain to the guy who had taken over industrial relations that you don’t let your PR guy out of the building with a bad taste in his mouth. That’s just dumb. He didn’t understand that. So, of course, when I walked in to Jerry and I said – he said how’s it going. Then I said – I said, “Listen, you know, this is kind of a – not such a good settlement.” And he looked at it and he said, “Well, I think we can do this.” I said um-hm. We can do this. Um-hm. We can probably do this. I said all right. I said I can keep the car for a year can’t I? Says yeah sure. And I said obviously you’re going to insure me for a year so I don’t have to pay for this child’s – yeah, yeah, yeah. Anyway, Jerry sent me out of the door properly. I mean, I’d been his – I’d worked for him for 22, 24 years, been his PR guy for 18 years. And we were very close. Very tight. Two years later or a year later and I’ll get back to that. A year later, I have some options that are due and they’re not big. I mean, they’re – they’re not above but you don’t want to get rid of them. You want to keep them because you know the company’s going click and you’re going to make a dollar or something. So I called the lawyer. I said listen these options come due next month. Would you make sure that Mr. Sanders gets the board to extend them a year? Said well that’s not going to happen. I said of course it is. He says why should he do that? And I said because it doesn’t hurt. What does it – it doesn’t hurt you to extend these few options. Said it’s not going to happen. I said tell you this, you tell him that I’m taking it to court. I’m go – I’m going to court with this. And he starts to laugh and he says what do you mean you’re going to court? Said you tell Jerry that if he doesn’t sign these options, I’m going to court and changing my son’s name. So anyway, I left – I left AMD and – and I was out in back and trying to learn how to saw a piece of wood and I get a phone call from this lovely guy, George Perlegos. And I don’t know who George Perlegos is. But my friend Jim Downey, who you know well, had told – who was consulting for Mr. Perlegos said he – listen, you got to call Sopkin. Sopkin’s your guy. He’s going to do this, he’s going to do that, play those. I said hey listen, appreciate your call, not a chance. I’m not interested in working. I didn’t have any money, Jerry. I don’t want you to think that I had any money. I owed, you know, millions but I, you know, first things are first. So calls me two or three times. Finally I show up. And he’s a lovely guy and I knew his brother who was in the business. See his brother was older named Gus. Gus had been a designer at AMD, nice guy. Third member of their group was a fellow named TC, initials T.C. Wu, who was the technologist, ran fabs. And these three guys had taken this startup to – several years old, probably doing – well lot of millions in sales profitably and they hadn’t taken a nickel. They didn’t – they didn’t drive to Sand Hill Road. Those people didn’t come into the company. And so I couldn’t believe this. Here are these guys who started this company on their own. Mr. Perlegos’ cubicle is a little bit bigger than the rest but not much. And here are these unbelievable guys. So he says – George says well what is it you want? I said I don’t want to work. He says, other than that. I said, well I had – I don’t want to be on the freeways during rush hour. They were North First Street. So – or near there. He says what does that mean? I said that means that I want to come to work at 10:00. He said uh-huh. I said hang on a minute. I’ll come at 6 but I’m not coming at 8 because I don’t want to deal with it. He said I don’t blame you. And I said same thing going the other way. He said I don’t blame you. And he said well if you want and I said something. And I said I’m not working more than 15-20 hours a week. He said yeah I don’t blame you da da da da. Finally he says I don’t have any money. I said I don’t want any money. I said give me a little money for lunch and gas and diapers or whatever dumb thing I said and give me a lot of your stock. Said I’ll do that. So I went to work for Mr. Perlegos.
GH: Were they still a startup? Had they gone public?
ES: No, no. They owned it all. They owned everything that – or they had it chunked out this amount for employees, this amount we’ll sell to whatever. But they didn’t – no. They hadn’t taken a single outside penny, which I thought was spectacular.
GH: That’s amazing.
ES: Well they were smart guys. They didn’t -
GH: How did they – did they have a fab or did they – how could you start a company?
ES: Geri, they didn’t have a fab here and I don’t know if they – well they were involved with – what was Mr. Gordy Campbell’s company called Seeq?
ES: They founded SEEQ – is that the correct name – Gordy Campbell?
GH: Isn’t it? Yeah.
ES: They founded the company with Gordy and left or something got bought, it got – then they got some money. George Perlegos’ name is on many, many EEPROM and flash memory patents at Intel. So they didn’t get money from that but they were well compensated by the Intel. And they got a few of their buddies in with money. One of their famous buddies is a guy named Siskus. Oh help.
GH: Was it Mike Siskus?
ES: No. But it’s close and his name is really McKess. He was a nice Greek boy. He was a professor of economics at Santa Clara University and when this comes out, I will now be mud in the Greek community. But these guys were very tight fisted, ran a tight ship, were spectacular human beings, unbelievable. I will give you two points that are important. We did Christmas parties at AMD that were proper and big.
GH: Also known as over-the-top.
ES: Jerry’s point was he would reward people with a Christmas party, with a party that would be better than any party they had been to. And I ran them for years. And we would have them at the Moscone Center. And one year I rented three or four buildings in the Design Center, Cisco’s – damn it. Anyway, we had big parties. We had Chicago entertaining, Rob Hanna entertaining. We had huge parties and the people loved them. I mean, you’d walk in and there would be violin players and then there would be harp players and food like you could not imagine and they cost a fortune and they were grand. And the people looked forward to them and talked about them. And, of course, all the sales guys would come in for them. And they were really nice parties. And Jerry would speak. Not big, you know, eight minutes. George Perlegos, the first couple of years of the company, we had tests in assembly in San Jose. I’m not sure where wafers came from, overseas, Taiwan obviously. George Perlegos would have a Christmas party and he sent his personnel people out to individually buy Christmas presents for every child that would attend that party. So he – somehow they knew that Susie’s son, Johnny, didn’t have a fire truck, they bought him a fire truck. And we had a Santa Claus and the whole thing. And they were just unbelievable. They were over the top. Not that expensive but done with such exquisite taste.
ES: Perlegos was a man of exquisite taste in his own right. So when the company was going public and they were going on the road to sell the deal, I’m in there with George and George, to the best of my knowledge, owns two well shined, dark suits, a few of the worst neckties you’ve ever seen and whatever. And I’m in there talking and there – in comes his friend McKess and a couple of others. And he says – they said – they’re talking about going out on the road and this guy McKess was a player. And he said you’re letting your buddy George go out on the road with whoever – Goldman or somebody and just like this? I said no, no, no, no. I got three guys coming in from Milano tomorrow to fit him out. [laughter] I said (inaudible) I said George is going to look great in Brioni suits. And, of course, poor Mr. Perlegos actually believed it for, you know, good twenty minutes. They were really good people. They did a great job. What I did there was start all their publication stuff.
GH: You were always a consultant to them?
ES: Always a consultant, never on the payroll. All their datasheets, their books, their newsletters, their ads. Then we started hiring people. Hired an ad person and then she took over that except I kept the writing of the ads. I didn’t want to let anybody write those ads. And – so finally I’m there ten years, stock’s public. Stock’s really nice. And it’s a layoff. He’s laying off engineers. And I go into him and I said “George, I don’t understand how you can lay off circuit designers and critical engineers and keep a PR guy as a consultant.” He said, “I’ve been wrestling with that problem.” And he said, “I can’t afford it.” I said, “It’s fine.” So that’s the way we ended it. And it – it was good. He was –
GH: You had another good run.
ES: It was a great run. And he’s a great guy. Now one of these guys name of Rich Wood joined a friend of his named Rick Orlando and they started another company called Summit Microelectronics. And these guys were pretty jivey. And I hooked in with them for a few hours a month. They had this grand set of offices in one of these prune-drying places at Campbell. So with – you know, it’s like a courtyard and levels – different levels going around it. It was great fun. Then I – I hung in with them for three or four years and did a lot of work with them. And they were very interesting people. They made some programmable stuff. We – we did a movie there which was – was kind of fun. I was able to hire a movie crew and we did some goofy movie about something or other. Anyway, I – I’ve worked for several places, always enjoy it. Never worked for anybody I didn’t like.
GH: That’s the best way.
ES: Well that’s the only way. And I never worked for anybody that would rewrite my copy, you know. Course, you know, as Mr. Sanders would be happy to tell you at any time, said writers are a dime a dozen. He said your job is to be a manager. I’ll give you a great Sanders story. So as you well know, there were two manager overseas electronic show, Paris Components Show, Munich whatever.
ES: Electronica. And at AMD, we were going to this thing – these things and spending a fortune. Just the amount of money that I spent printing books, shipping them there, you know, was – and then we’d bring in all the sales guys from all over. And rent a booth or build a booth and yada da. Pierre Broday, did you know that name?
GH: Yeah, I knew him.
ES: May he rest well in peace. And he would run this thing for us and (?) may he rest in peace. Looks like I’ve outlived a couple – couple of these guys that worked me. Anyway, we’re spending a fortune on these booths and these shows and we all show up and da da da da da. And finally, after several years, somebody says who’s coming to these things? And they go through the little cards that people – and it turns out they’re all students and low level engineers. Nobody with a buying responsibility or capability would ever show up. So Sanders says it’s over. That’s it. Figure out another way of doing it. So Stevie Z and someone else decide what we would do is have a big-time dinner. And we’d have a big-time dinner. It would be such a big-time event that every major buyer, president, vice president, would want to come to this big-time dinner. Grand concept. This first one was in the, I don’t know, it’s about two-thirds of the way up the Eiffel Tower. I think it’s called the George LaTour Room or whatever it’s called – Jacques Cousteau Room. [laughter] And we rented it and we invited 90 or 100 people. And Benjy Anixter had a, you know, a slide show that was going to go on with ten or eleven projectors. This was, you know, the old days, with da da da da. And, of course, the real problem is is that electricity coming out of the wall in Paris is different than anyone else’s electricity or it doesn’t come out of the wall. Anyway, I go – I turn in a travel thing to Sanders. I decide I’m going to go to the show. I’m going to go to the – to the show and he calls me and he says what is this? I said I’m going to the Paris show. And he says yeah, I see that. He said why you going? I said well I want to hear you speak. He said you what? I said I want to hear you speak. I think it’s important and I hear you speak quite a bit, you know, get your intonation, get your movement, your this and that and the other thing. Sanders looked at me said what are you afraid I’m going to change the copy? I, of course, had written the speech. He said you afraid I’m going to change the copy? No Jerry. Anyway, so he gets ready to sign and he says you’re coming back on the Concord? These were big days. And I said – I said well actually I am. And he looks off and he says everybody should ride the Concord once. So that was Jerry’s little – anyway, Concord’s a great airplane. Too bad it’s not in business.
GH: Yeah. Too bad. Well, this has been a lot of fun hearing this.
ES: Oh, it’s over.
GH: Well anymore good stories?
ES: Oh Jerry, I got so many good stories it’s scary.
GH: Oh yeah.
ES: It depends on what you want to hear good stories about.
GH: Did we miss one?
ES: We probably missed several. I’ll give you a great one.
GH: Okay, this is the –
ES: This is it?
ES: Oh, I better – I better make sure it’s a good one. I can – then I better give you two great ones. Oh God, I got 17.
GH: Give us your best.
ES: I don’t have it. When I started work there, I live about a mile and a half from the office. And first day, I figure well I better do it right. And I show up quarter to eight. Sanders is already in his office. Now that he’s in his office, he’s probably on his second cup of coffee because I look at the coffee pot in the – in our area and it’s – you say uh-huh, got it. Next day I come in at 7:30. He’s there. See, this ain’t going to work out well at all for me. I try one more and I come in a little – little bit earlier even and finally I learn that bec – we didn’t have security guards – we didn’t have any security – that one of the founders opened the building every morning at 6:00. And it was, you know, each founder took a week and it was his week. And, of course, Sanders is not going to say hey listen schmuck, you don’t have to come in to work a quarter to seven. But I’ll give you one last one. In the days of Mr. Nixon, we had salary freezes. And the government decided that you could not raise a salary without promoting somebody. Now, as you may know, I had given Mr. Sanders the name of “King” when he was at AMD. We called him the king, not when he was at Fairchild. So, in those days, hiring people was very difficult because the guy next door would come in and give – give them a dime more or give factory workers a dime more and bam, they’re working at Signetics, they’re working at National. So there’s nothing you could do about it. It turned out by happenstance, we had graded everybody as engineers, factory workers, five or six directors or whatever, and a president. So I came up with this scheme with some consulting from somebody, that we would promote people so we could give them a raise and keep them. We’d promote them to Die Attach 1, Bonder 2 and it worked great. It was just terrific. Sanders – so Sanders and I are in the bathroom, the urinals. Always had great conversations with Mr. Sanders in the bathroom. He says hey that was really a clever thing you did da da da, it’s really good. He said what are you going to do for me? I said what do you mean for you? He said well I’m the king. He says yeah. He says I’ll tell you what, start the paperwork. Make me dictator. There you are.
GH: All right. Well thank you very much for being part of our Silicon Genesis interviews.
ES: Well I need the money.
GH: Yeah. Well sorry we might disappoint you there. You have added an important perspective on marketing which you played a big role. Marketing communications, PR, was very, very important putting the semiconductor industry on the map and you were one of the primary players in –
GH: Early and – and you stayed a while and stayed late and thank you.
ES: Stayed late. Nobody tried to take me away. Thank you.
GH: All right.