Interview with Steve Allen, Lawrence Bender, Richard Steinheimer
March 25, 1995
Atherton, California

RW: This is Rob Walker. Today we are interviewing three of the pioneers in graphic design that got their start in the 60's at Fairchild. Let's just go around and introduce yourselves and tell a little bit about how you got to Fairchild.

RS: I'm Richard Steinheimer and I came out in the newspaper business in Marin County as a staff photographer and it was a fun business and I got to climb over the side of the Golden Gate Bridge, and cover a lot of nice murders and fires and things. But it was always so sloppy. In 1962, '61 or '62 Fairchild set up a diode plant just north of San Rafael and I went out for the paper to do photographs of this new electronic industry, new company, and new clients, and I did some shots and I'll be darn, but the people in the plant really loved the pictures and so I got to meet Jack Yelverton from Fairchild who later became a head hunter, as it were, talent and other people and I was extremely impressed by these being young people and so bright and our newspaper was so traditional and a lot of sort of negative stuff and I felt Wow, you know, that's pretty neat. And so when they saw these photographs appear, well they got back to me and asked if I would like to come to Fairchild and start a photography department. And I thought about it a few minutes and I was disappointed I hadn't been hired by the bigger papers earlier, but I'd been getting some pension from them, but I thought this is better yet because this is a new industry and it would be a chance to create something brand new and that would be more fun than working with grouchy old editors with limited visual imagination. So early in '62 I came to Fairchild in Mountain View and with a little tiny office and a chair and a desk started a photography department. It was very fortunate for me that they had a little bit of money, they gave me five thousand dollars that I could invest in equipment to start the department. In those days that was a fortune. You compare it to a newspaper or other experiences, which was ran some and so I was able to buy some equipment and our Offices of Marketing Services then were led by John Hall and we were located John's office I think was next to Tom Bay's office, the director of marketing of this new Fairchild semiconductor and our offices were adjacent there, too. So we were about fifty or sixty feet away from Bob Noyce and Charlie Spork who taught management of this division of Fairchild family. And Wow, that was terrific and so I set up a little photo studio right in my tiny space and very fortunately that there had been another technological innovation had come on the market just shortly before and it was in Polaroid film for big cameras so that you could use sheet film in Polaroid adapters and put them on a big studio camera or on a bellows type camera and take a picture and sixty seconds later you had the picture. But even better than that that you also had a negative that was by nearly washing it off was a high quality negative. Well Wow, that eliminated the need generally for even a laboratory much. I mean you still needed a place to make prints, but you didn't need to develop film, we didn't need to take pictures of things particularly as obscure as the semiconductor parts and tiny components and weird things that you didn't have to wait days to see what the hell the results would be. That sixty seconds after I'd take the picture, I'd have the client or whoever brought something in to photograph stay there and then I would peel the thing apart and I would say, is this what you need? And not is this just what you wanted, is this what you need? And then they would look at it and say yes or no. And if it was no, then I'd alter it or whatever and shoot it again and then they'd say yes and then they'd go away with the maybe with the Polaroid print and I'd take the negative, wash it off, either have it printed outside or print it myself and what do you know, the whole job, as far as the client is concerned, took five to ten minutes. And they already knew the results of what they would be receiving. And then the Polaroid film even was the advanced test and showed exactly what the color film shot would be also. So Wow, so I was a magician. Everything happened about ten times faster than any other photo place you'd ever seen. Other than newspaper where the guys had, you know, hot chemicals and things, but that was just very simple shots. In this case in a new technology field, why it's important that everything be right. So anyway, so it's real easy to come off as a kind of a hero with the aid of that Polaroid film. And so it was fun and working with generally younger people than myself, why it was exhilarating enthusiasm of people to this new company and one of the things that was so funny is that under Hall's leadership and contact with Tom Bay, is that we would frequently get the biggest job of the week on like a Friday afternoon or a Thursday night or something and there'd be a big thing to do for some salesman's presentation on Monday perhaps and so, man we'd be there working Saturday and Sunday if necessary of whatever it took, but the enthusiasm was high and it was really exciting to be in that kind of new field and with such people so interested in succeeding and with such right management people around. It was really thrilling and the, as the 60's went by why the early graphic designer Bryce Browning left and as did another designer Tom Luke and so in 1966 who comes but Larry Bender and Lawrence Bender and I worked together as two completely different guys in creating photographs and Larry's graphic design and art direction to really do what I don't know that maybe I've seen very few in-house companies ever approach the quality and the kind of response that we did in those early days at Fairchild Semiconductor.


RW: So Larry, how did you arrive on the scene?

LB: There I was in Los Angeles in the mid 60's working at an advertising agency in a design studio and I got a call one afternoon from Mario Danna who'd been my instructor at art center and he said how would I like to go up in San Francisco and be the architecture for one of their clients, he didn't tell me who the company was at that time. And I had never even been to San Francisco. So to make a long story short, I eventually flew up and interviewed and they made me a lot of promises which Fairchild came through and honored all the promises, not so much as the money, but in terms of the responsibility, the authority, the way to work, how to organize the art department, things like that, and they came through with all that. The thing that I think helped convince me to come to Fairchild Semiconductor was the fact that everyone that I was working with, managers, coworkers, everybody was around my age and where I had worked in an ad agency in Los Angeles, you know, all the supervisors were much older and here, everybody was the same age.

RW: Right up to Noyce and Moore.

LB: Right up to Noyce and Moore. And there wasn't an established way, well here's the way we did it in the past for twenty five years we've been doing things this way, everybody was open to new and better things and I noticed when I looked around that the other people were all roughly my age and in the agency I came from, those people running around in shirt sleeves worked in the mailroom, and here they were managing huge budgets and huge departments and developing, you know, entire markets for the beginning of an industry it seems like. It was a very exciting time to be there.

RW: Steve how did you arrive on the scene?

SA: Well, I was a young freelance photographer and was from Marin County and I knew Richard Steinheimer from his work at the newspaper in Marin County, the Marin Independent Journal, and we got to be friends there and I did a little summer replacement work at the what we called the IJ and then I was drafted into the army and I got out of the army and I was looking for a job and I called around and I found out by then that he had gone to work at Fairchild Semiconductor but I'd never heard of semiconductors at that time in 1965 it was and I contacted him and there was a turned out to be a job opening in early 1966, April, and he called me and I went down for a very memorable interview with him and his assistant, who at the time I believe was planning to go off and do other things within Fairchild and we got in his four-wheel-drive vehicle and drove out in the middle of a vacant lot and bounced around in some hills and they showed me the Fairchild way. It was really terrific and I stayed there a long time. I ended up working there from 1966 until National Semiconductor bought the company and then a few years after that too. So it's twenty-four plus years all together and doing the photomicrographs dye, pictures of people, and products, and all kind of things. It turned out to be wonderfully rewarding and really the bulk of my life photographically. It was all inspired by Dick Steinheimer and his inspiration and it really set me on the path that I'm on now.

RW: There were a lot of characters in those days at Fairchild. Do you have any stories about...

RS: Actually one of the things we used to do at the time, when Larry came and Steve came that Ron Turner, another fine photographer that worked for me, and I both had four-wheel-drive vehicles and we would pretend to anyone who was new or a visitor or whatever that the only way you could drive downtown Mountain View was to ford Stevens Creek on the road now that 85 is today. So we would drive off and end up fording through the stream, whatever level it was, and splashing and bouncing in the back of the vehicles and drive up and come out in downtown. And so there was a lot of really fun goofiness that was just like the lubricating oil of, enjoyment, of cooperation. Even Ron and I formed a really great team. With Steve, I started doing photomicrographs, but when Steve came, Steve was a real serious guy and Ron was a guy who would never take no for an answer and sometimes Steve was a guy who would never take yes for an answer and so Wow, what a thing, you know, to have guys different, such different personalities and abilities was thrilling and so Steve went on, and he loved the photomicrography and aspect of it and so he really led me in later years into the development of our life field metallography and together we became world class without any question, even though we weren't, you know, front-line or backed by IBM or anything. We never saw anyone with better or more innovative photographs than we did. And the, one of the things that I guess if people ask me what did you learn the most from Fairchild Semiconductor from being in the fast moving electronics industry, I would say that it was the, something that was generally lacking in newspaper and that is that the combination of dissimilar talents and people to form interdisciplinary teams showed the power by which I realized you could take three or four people and run the world if they were the proper people in interdisciplinary ways. And that to an extent you could say that even with the Dr. Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore starting Intel was an example of different talents, different interests, creating something much huger than any one person could do by themselves. So when Larry came, why what we started out using, doing interdisciplinary meetings to solve the demands of things for graphics for our sales force, marketing people in sales. But with Larry had come from a tighter advertising background and so he really led in the perfecting of the interdisciplinary teams, not just in something in-house like where you're sort of molds down there and you're handling things with different talents, but we used to seize control without people knowing as a front-end device where with Larry, our interdisciplinary team of photographer, lighter, artist, the graphic designer, printer, whatever, we worked on the front-end as the job acceptance committee so that we headed them off at the pass, that every time the guys who go to get away, we'd catch them at the pass before they ever got there because we never let things get out of hand to where we doing dumb things or we were told to do things a certain way, that never happened because with Larry's leadership in there, we used - when there was a job came down, it was not accepted until we met, either it was Larry and me or Larry and Steve or Larry and the writer or five of us or ten of us that we made the client sweat a little and tell us exactly what they needed and not just what to do, they're not going to tell us what to do, but and then we'd have a meeting where each person of a different discipline like in photography, and we'd say what about this kind of picture and then there'd be, not an argument really, but just discussions and pretty soon we'd understand what the client needed, we would have come up with a theoretical answer, we'd feed it back to them in the same meeting, we'd get the client would agree usually, and then that sounds like a really good plan, and that was the job acceptance. And so everyone got up from the table and no one ever forgot what it is that they needed to do later. No one ever forgot because the people on our side were the people who shaped who formed their answer. In other words, nobody forgets something they have to do if their idea is used as in the execution of the job. So, we had a few people complained at first because they were used to sort of, like dropping it like you do in the defense industry, drop a chip in a box outside the closed door saying you need this or that by such a time. It was the exact opposite of the bureaucratic stupid ways that a lot of times you use in the industry. We never accepted anything until it was planned, and then at that time that, with just the minimum number of people necessary to handle all the facets of the job, why we constantly kept smelling like a rose and we produced world class material.

RW: You know it's interesting that discipline carried over to Intel. Larry and I did the annual reports for Intel from '75 to '80 and we would mail these really classy pieces of work on January the 13th and the reason we were able to do that was because Noyce and Moore and Grove still had that same discipline, which was this is what we're going to do and let's not worry about it with a bunch of other people and committees and all of that and just between two or four of us, we would turn these things out and usually Gordon Moore would write it himself.

LB: And Bob Noyce would write it.

RW: And Bob would write it. And so you didn't have all these people, like you get in big companies, guessing and editing over and over again.

LB: That leadership at the top is what gave us the ability to do our job the way we thought it was best to do, was that management, it was never professed, here is our style, it just sort of grew with the company. And it came from, you know, Noyce and Moore and the other guys at the top and one story that I like to tell, whether it's right or wrong on my part, I felt that I was right, is that I got a call from some product marketing manager, I forgot who it was at the time, come to his office and he was outlining what he really needed was a very fancy, four colored brochure, he needed to sell to one particular guy in the department of defense in Washington and he was convinced that Fairchild could meet all his requirement, he was going on and on and you have to have a budget at the time of twenty-five thousand dollars, which was a huge budget, a large potential money business here. And he went on explaining I was asking questions - how are you going to use this - then it turned out that basically you have just really need to convince one key guy and I thought to spend twenty-five thousand dollars for a brochure is crazy as much fun as it would have been to do it and I got up very dramatically, took a dime out of my pocket, you could make a phone call then for a dime, slammed it down on the table and I said you don't need a brochure, call the guy up, take him out to dinner, and tell him your story. And I walked out of the office and I didn't get fired.

RS: You're in leadership and that interdisciplinary planning thing was, you know, really terrific and don't you think that it just worked so well that, I mean, later I worked with a defense contractor that - they were so miserable that I don't even want to mention, but everything every department and everybody was fighting everyone else. There was tremendous internal friction in anything that anyone ever wanted to do. And it was totally extremely the opposite and it's partly a matter of willingness but what else. I mean you came from the advertising industry and so you're used to interdisciplinary team, problem solving teams right?

LB: Yes, writers and art directors and photographers and media people, account people, research people.

RS: And that each person helps hammer out a portion of the plan and if it's like we used it as a job acceptance thing, which is great because then the clients there and he's participating, he's throwing in things, and saying well I don't know about that or hey, maybe you're guys are right, maybe you could do this or that. And so by the time that the planning meeting was over, their job was pretty completely visualized and in effect accepted by us and then since everyone in the room was gonna' supervised the aspects of work that they were represented no one could ever forget what to do.

LB: Part of it was that environment, that you could say that in one sense, you know, management didn't know any better.

RS: Well, to let us bask...

LB: And so we were the experts and so we ran with it and we said this is the way it should be approached and this is the way it will be done and they said fine and that's the way that we did it. That's because it was, I think, you know, a young industry who didn't even think of it as an industry. I mean the term Silicon Valley hadn't even been coined yet. And everybody was just inventing how we're going to do this.

RW: Well Stein you were close to Bob Widlar who was a real character and I see you got a photograph there or an ad featuring him.

RS: Yeah I'd say that again, I've mentioned that if there was anything that I've learned from Larry and Steve and other people and from Bob Noyce or from the people enlightened kind of leadership is that the teamwork and the interdisciplinary teamwork is the main thing and that one of the reasons I thought it would be interesting to talk about Bob Widlar was that Widlar quickly, a lot of people considered very arrogant and he was a military army brat I think, a wise guy and a mad man and all these things, but that he had an interdisciplinary counterpart or kind of quiet professorial guy that hardly said anything named Dave Talbert and Talbert was the process engineer who worked with Widlar on the development of the earliest integrated or linear syntax.

RW: They invented.

RS: Yeah.

RW: They invented the internet.


RS: They developed and then that had to watch them over the years was interesting because it was remarkable in their achievements. They were world leaders and maybe one little story tells what I felt was like just the proof of that value of that. One night in Walker's Wagon Wheel I was standing there having a drink with thousand of other people jammed in, and Widlar came in all excited. He was just like this, he was just, his eyes were red, they'd already celebrated the National - he was working at National Company. I asked him why he was so enthused and he said well a line girl made a mistake today and Talbert had he looked at it and we got something. So, I didn't ask him, I was still at Fairchild and it was about a year later that I heard that there was this new process out at National called double gold effusion, but in effect the girl had doubled diffused something - I think with gold, I'm not sure in linear circuitry and Talbert in his quiet people way instead of trashing the stuff and firing the girl or whatever, went over and asked the girl apparently exactly what she did and she said what she did exactly and then he went over and he studied it. And so then he said well this is really different in the electrical responses so he called Widlar down and Widlar came and said Wow, that's the answer to another whole direction, you know, a fabrication that we can use for certain advantages on linear integrated circuits. And so, but without the two guys - if it was Widlar, he would have fired half the staff probably as a madman or whatever. In fact Widlar, when they didn't buy equipment once at National, he got so mad he went down to purchasing with his long handle double edged axe and threatened them that if they didn't order that damn thing right now for Talbert that he would start chopping up their desks. Well Talbert's composure and quiet brilliance might not have got him everywhere either because he wasn't pushy or anything. And so one of the examples of teamwork was one time at National when the purchasing guys wouldn't follow through and buy some line or fabricating equipment or text equipment that Talbert had ordered, that Widlar I guess he heard once too many times that they hadn't received the equipment that Talbert needed yet. And so Widlar always kept a long handled double edged axe in his office and so he went down to purchasing department and he walked in and he told them that in the office out loud as he would only have done it, he said if they didn't order that equipment right now for Talbert, he would start chopping up their desks. Now, he was a very brilliant man. He didn't say he was going to start chopping up them, but he said he would only chop up their desks. But for a bunch of clerical guys, that had them running for the aisles. And so the, anyways, he scared the hell out of them and then he left and I'm sure that the head of the department then called Charlie Spork immediately and said there's this madman down here. Widlar came down and threatened us with an axe he was going to chop us up with his axe if we didn't get this equipment. And just from the little I know of Charlie and talking to him, Charlie Spork, I am sure Charlie said well, hey don't worry, that's just Widlar, just forget it. That's all right. And so they ordered the equipment and anyway...

RW: There's a famous Civil War story where some people went to Lincoln and said that General Grant who was drinking on the job and Lincoln said, find out what kind of whiskey it is and get it for my other generals.

RS: Well Widlar was that kind of guy and he was, he and Talbert through that teamwork and that interdisciplinary thing between the two of them, each handling, Talbert handling the fabrication and Widlar handling the design, they ruled the world and led the world in linear integrated circuits for a couple of decades. Very sadly that in 1989 Bob Widlar died I believe in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and Dave Talbert about the same time was killed in an automobile accident on the road driving up from Big Sur where he lived. So we lost both guys at one time. But what a spectacular careers they each helped the other to make and they're appropriately famous guys.

RW: Well Steve, just how young were these people you worked for?

SA: It was amazing that it seems like ninety-nice percent of the people at Fairchild Semiconductor were people my age. They were very youthful and examples: Robert Noyce on the left and Don Valentine were in their early thirties and they were running a show. Don Valentine was the director of marketing and Bob Noyce was one of the founders. Everybody was youthful and vigorous and dynamic and it was a terrific environment as Stein said, it was just marvelous.

RW: Stein, let's see some of your work here.

RS: Okay. Well I should show you this, Bob Widlar as a young guy at Fairchild Semiconductor and then later even after National and working with Teledyne noticed that still, his axe. I have a double-edged axe in my office actually the same as he has. He used this for chopping wood to stay in shape because he lived a lot of the time in a cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains and for purchasing people. But, that was their real start with the first really practical linear integrated circuit. That became a big seller. And then they went, this was 703 and then went to the 709 and then led the world as I said for a couple of decades. There's another story that I thought was not typical for the days of Fairchild but was sort of interesting, that we wanted to do a season's greetings card, so marketing services manager asked Larry to design one and the - so Larry came up with a design of a bird for a card and it was a very nice design and I got the idea that well why don't we have it, why don't we do it and then use our planar process, which is our patented process and reduce it and put it on silicon and then I'll photograph it and then we'll load that up and that will be the card and we'll have used the planar process. And so, but at the time I believe Don Valentine was acting general manager and so McClening, our boss, told us we had to go through Valentine. So, he arranged a meeting and so Larry, a new employee relatively, and I and our boss McClening went down to Don Valentine's office and in effect I asked him to get permission to have the people in mask making take Larry's two masks, as it were, designs, and make a step and repeat or whatever or something that masks and make it a little - just like a test wafer so we could photograph it for the card. Well it was a time when the mask making was terribly hard pressed to keep up. I hadn't realized how critical it was, but it was a real tough time. So Valentine just, he was just assaulting us, he's assaulting Larry and I for even being so crazy as to come in and ask and like everything that I tried to argue it was just like, you know, you guys, you know, You can't! Just a card! you know, and this and that, and I asked him why he had such a good desk if the looks didn't matter and why do you have such a fine desk instead of a small metal one. And it finally got sort of heated then I looked over at Larry and Larry was a new hire and I looked at Larry, Larry started to shut up, you know, he got quiet. And I realized he's thinking he's going to get fired and we're going to get fired and he's going to have the shortest career that he ever had. So I shut up and said, okay, but meanwhile the thing that was funny later was that while Valentine was tearing us apart, every way he can, even daring to come in and ask for us, why he is signing these damn requisitions that our boss has put down on the desk in front of him and so he signs off everything. Well our boss was so pleased when he left the meeting, Larry is relieved at not losing his job, and I feel put off, but the boss is beaming because he had been trying to get a production control person for months and months and hadn't been able to get it authorized and Valentine signed off to get the job control person hired. And so anyway it was three very, very different guys that left the meeting. But on my way out, I said well listen and I'll try and do it in my darkroom, I'll try and do the job in my darkroom and Valentine said well if you can do that I'll start a swing shift in your darkroom. It was some kind of sassy comment. So I thought well we'll see. So, I took Larry's design and reduced it to two masks and I made two film negatives and went to the darkroom and made them so I could register them in my enlarger, just an old Omega enlarger, and then I borrowed the UV light source from one of the repair guys, put it up at the top of the enlarger where normally a visible light thing would be, and then took our Bausch and Lomb microscope and put it down underneath where the enlarger lens would normally be so that the microscope looked at the mask up inside the enlarger and then reduced it on to the stage so that I could put something down there and go thirty mil increments, you know, in x and y axis and it actually, it was against every kind of principle of the, you know, using UV light with a backwards microscope with non-UV lenses and every other dang thing but it looked like it would make an image. So I'm going out since - we have done - one of the rules I set up fairly early was that we were supposed to work - do jobs only for marketing people in a photography group, but I saw that there were often times important jobs with production people that other people had, technical people, and I thought well shoot, you know, these guys, this is really critical sometimes for them. So we always did things for them. We stayed after work or lunchtime, we always did the job if it looked like it was a needed thing. So anyway, so the friends out in the FAB area I got them to give me some wafers and they coded up a couple for me and I went out and exposed them and then, it took a couple of tries, and then on the second try like at three a.m. or so why I picked up a wafer that they had developed as it were photo resist and metalized and brought it back up to my darkroom and at about three or four in the morning we put it under the microscope to look at it and the image was just useless, it was grayish black. Looking at it in a light field it was nothing and I had taken a couple of days and I made so many, you know, things against the proper technology approach that I didn't even know how to fix it. But then the scope that Steve and I had had a little thing on the back where you could turn it to dark field so I thought well I might as well look at it in the dark field and so I was very disappointed, and flipped it and this was the end result. That under dark field illumination all the errors and the little dots and the lifting of the photo resist, you know, the dreaded lifting, all that turned out to be very graphic. And so it was just wonderful. Then I showed Larry the next morning. First I showed him the gray nothing frame and I said but let's add a dark field and wow.

LB: ...the dark field, that's the color. That came through and I think the thing that is, was most significant is in 1968 we had taken the semiconductor process and turned it into an art form.

RS: Yeah, a sculpture if you will.

LB: Like neon eventually became an art form.

RS: Even just the planar process in the sense perverted. But anyway, so then after that Don Valentine was very civil to us and something I would like to point out too is that later, in fact we have a picture of Don that when Chris Coburn died one of his employees, the lengths that he went to to help out with the widow and he was a very loyal guy to his employees so we've always had mutual respect since that meeting. We just certainly hit him with the wrong request at the wrong time, but we ended up with a wonderful piece of art not a waste of time.

RW: Well I wanted to do something for the tech center and this was a project that was funded and then we had a cutback in LSI Logics and we de-committed the project. It was a machine you can get that allows you to transfer a microscope transfers a wafer or a dye and observe it on the television screen. And so that people could look at the screen and transverse this dot. What I wanted to do was put the state of California, every road every court, everything, to put it on a single dye because it's capable of doing that. And just metalize it and then, and get the proper light and you could look up your little street and everything on the entire map of California and eventually you'd be able to do the entire United States. And that database actually exists, so I was well on my way to doing that.

RS: What a sculpture, sculpting the United States in the planar process.

RW: Just metalization. But that's what a modern the LSI circuit a vacuum like circuit. Well what else do you got?

RS: Well I don't know, one of the things that we did in, always in consultation that we'd have meetings sometimes and there would be oh, we'd get ideas and particularly Larry and me working together or sometimes Steve and Larry that we'd get picture ideas and try them on each other and again the cooperative kind of different viewpoints each person had. And one of them I got one time was I thought that why don't we do some projection of integrated circuitry products even on people. We did some, one of the young ladies that worked at the plant, and I think this is your circuit that you worked on Rob possibly that it was.

RW: No.

RS: It was not the DSLI?

RW: No it's not.

RS: But anyway, but it was an integrated circuit and anyway it worked out real nice. The management didn't care for it and then a year or two later they came back after thinking about it for a year or two and said it was a pretty good idea and by then we were on to other things, so we never used them for a trade show or any specific thing. Then other times, like there'd be a need for like reliability brochure, this predates our computer age today, where, wanted to do multiple images to show various things to do with testing that is part of the proof of reliability for this reliability brochure and so we got engineer Jim Reynolds and I did all this in-house multiple exposures, in-camera, I should say, so that each one of these was shot separately and with the use of Polaroid film I could figure out in advance the position and whether or not it would overlap something else. And again sort of creating kind of unique art that was essentially though related to the technology.

RW: But to make the point, there was no computer art.

RS: That's right. Today, now this is very common, it's very easy to do because of tremendous storage capabilities and the ability of graphic terminals. But this is a good thirty years before that if not more.

SA: And Stein developed a way to do it with the Polaroid's, we knew exactly what we were getting, where we were placing the imaging.

RW: I asked Larry a month or so ago to paste up a magazine, newspaper article and it appeared on this very project and this just threw this whole operation into disarray because actually physically had to cut this paper and glue it down and it was, I mean it was just beyond the capabilities, you know, they had to bring in old people.

LB: It's hard to get old people.

SA: That's why I did it.

RS: Yes, I like the, going back to papyrus and Egypt and Egyptians?

LB: Right, where's the rubber cement, isn't that what we used to use?

RS: Contributes to brain damage, as they latter figured out, no one every told us at the time. There were other kinds of things where we did, sometimes straight things if Steve or I would use different lights because we rigged up a microscope camera arrangement whereby we could use any kind of lens on it, a few adapters, and you know, that anyway it was fun and we could do a lot of very interesting work and sometimes again just do multiple exposure out in the factory or other places for specific, usually for specific projects and kinds of theme pictures and many of them went to become covers of magazines for PR use. This is part of a Fortune spread sort of early on with LSI, very early kind of LSI layout on the floor at R and D Lab and...

RW: Again this is pre-computer.

RS: Yes, that's right. Well the computers were, yeah, that's right, they were, had printers, but certainly far different than the capabilities today. And Larry Blazer, Derek Bray, and McDougal, bright young engineers sort of typical of the time, just a candid shot of some favorite guys that were the kinds of engineers like Faggin and others who were creating and inventing new things themselves all the time too. The, being in-house and being a photographer for I think all three of us who did it was like sort of being near a candy jar. That we had so many bright people and so many interesting things going on that, and then there were always needs for publication uses of things and so Wow, it was exciting and I think too because of the drive and of the new inventions that constantly came, revisions of old ideas or new products, new ways to do things, that it was never ending. It was certainly a very enjoyable period.

RW: Well, Steve, moving, moving ahead here as the decline of Fairchild and you were there through this whole period, through the Hogan era and then the Schlumberger era with the idiot Roberts and then finally an attempt to save the company by, what, Brooks was the fella's name?

RW: Don Brooks.

SA: Yes, too late.

RW: Yeah, a guy that actually knew, he actually knew what he was doing but it was too late. Can you tell what was it like? I mean what went wrong?

SA: Well, maybe staring a little bit before that, but Bob Noyce really was a photo enthusiast himself, an amateur enthusiast, and he encouraged us, not only in our work but also in our development of ourselves artistically outside of pictures we took for Fairchild and they had a very large bulletin board in one of the main hallways off the lobby in Building 4 on 313 Fairchild Drive where he encouraged us to put up pictures of anything we liked up there, that we enjoyed shooting, landscapes or whatever it was and we had rotating exhibits and it was, that was really great. Later on, of course, after Noyce and Moore went on to Intel, the Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation brought in Dr. Hogan, Les Hogan from Motorola and he in turn brought in a number of other people that he was familiar with to help him run the company. And they were a real different kind of group but by then we were in a generation, you know, it was a more of a maturing effect on the entire semiconductor industry, where you go from the young entrepreneurial stages into a more mature operation that has more mature looks managerially at things. They start to take more traditional looks at things. But Les Hogan was, is a very interesting fellow. I mean he has a very, very strong technical background and he liked to talk about things. He came to my office more than once and he'd just sit down and chat about technology. He'd come over to talk about a slide program he needed to give it some technical thought, and he'd digress, and we'd sit there and just chat sometimes for a couple hours and finally Madeline Fair, his secretary would call over and say, is Les still with you? And I'd say yes he is, let me put him on and she'd say oh he's got an appointment he has a guy waiting in his office. And he'd jump up and say, oh I forgot what time it was and he'd race off, this is in a different building usually and go back and... But it was still an interesting time for me. I think that it started to kind of fade when Schlumberger bought the company and tried to apply their ideas of management and how to run a business to the semiconductor business. And I don't know if my ideas of why it didn't work were the reason for it, but for whatever reason, the company did start to fade and like you say, when we brought in Don Brooks it was maybe too far gone and it was ripe for takeover, it had been actually for several years, but really ripe for takeover by then and that's when we, one of the old guard from the early 60's at Fairchild, Charlie Spork and his company National Semiconductor made an offer that Schlumberger couldn't refuse and it was pretty advantageous I think for National, they didn't have to take the buildings, they took the people and the technology and pretty much left the buildings behind and...

RW: And the toxic waste?

LB: Schlumberger got stuck with the toxic waste.

RW: Remember how our windshields used to get etched in the parking lot?

SA: That was the aerial affluent from the etchers and things.

RW: Hydrofluoric acid.

SA: Pretty tough on paint. Anyway by the time I left National Semiconductor it had been several years, three or four years after National had bought Fairchild and National's philosophy was not to have artists and photographers and art directors and people like that on staff, they put up with me for several years and finally decided, no, our original philosophy was really the right thing and so I've been a contractor and oddly enough doing virtually the same thing, with the same people, for National Semiconductor ever since.

RW: Do you get paid more or less?

SA: Well it's piecework, but the bottom line is similar.

RW: At least you're your own boss.

RS: Yeah. That's something that impressed me with Steve when he first came to be hired at Fairchild is he said you know, I think this would be interesting and I'd like to stay here and retire from here if I could. And so we had taken 10 years, but I always thought, I believed him and I think it's really nice to see people who look ahead and can do that and he hasn't retired yet, but he hung in and still, you know, he's close to Fairchild as there is left.

SA: And I do see people at National almost every day who were there not Charlie anymore since he retired, but Randy Parker and various other people who were working at Fairchild when National bought Fairchild and it's nice to see them. I mean it gives me a good feeling to see these people. So they're not all gone, some of them are still there.

RW: So, Stein, so when did you go ahead, when did you leave?

RS: I left, well Larry and I left in 1970. I think that with changes in management it was still interesting but we'd had the different marketing services had and the work got less interesting and we got more people that - looked like more Fairchild at Intel and other AMD - Larry certainly had done a lot with them or knew of them when we all worked together. And so he and I left to start a design studio in Palo Alto and did that for several years. And that was fun and very interesting and so Intel and AMD were among our clients. The - I wrote the first two Intel annual reports and then we did the photography, but it was, I think it was most interesting in 1971 when they said we have this new sort of area of electronics and we'd like you and Larry to do a brochure on it and write it and design it. And it's called microcomputer, microprocessor. And so we worked with Ted Hoff on it and people. Larry, we have a real fine example around here somewhere of Larry's design for that brochure and it was sort of like being there when the first bread slicing machine was built, you know, or...

LB: Except maybe when they built the bread-slicing machine they knew what they were doing. I have a feeling that no one really knew what a microprocessor was.

RS: Well, it wasn't positive But still they basically tried to take the equivalent of an IBM 360 and put it down into a few chips and it just seemed to me that the scale was so economical that it could indeed perform a lot of functions that you would never want to dedicate a big computer to. Because at the time, I think that movies and fiction and all that, of course all the world is being one giant computer that it would be computer central. It would be cryogenic if they put it at the South Pole come to think of it. But the wires went out to everywhere and controlled everything, you know, your doors, you're turning off the lights at night. Well this is the exact opposite. This is Ted Hoff and the guys saying hey, why don't we just take those pieces like, you know, like the IBM 360 CPU and the memory and we sell them as just chips and guys can do it for limited things and we can put them in a pen and you can put them in anything.

RW: And they do.

RS: And they do.

RW: Let's break.

SA: Rob, one of the fun things was that I found, in my files before coming here today, was the first photograph I ever took at Fairchild Semiconductor in April 1966 and Dick Steinheimer said, you know what would be, could be a best seller is a picture of a Silicon ingot, a Silicon angst sliced as a silicon, raw polished, and with integrated circuits step and repeated on them. And the chips after the wafer was sliced and diced and three different package styles that the chips could go in - the CIRDIP and CIRPACK and the metal 305 Can. And I said well, okay, I don't know what some of these things are, but I'll put them down on a piece of paper and take a picture of him. And by gosh, you know, I have been literally providing prints of this picture twenty, thirty years later.

RW: It's still done the same way, isn't it?

SA: Oh yeah, nothing has changed fundamentally, the sizes of things have changed...

RS: Packaging styles.

SA: Yeah packaging styles in some cases have changed, but the fundamentals haven't changed and it really has been, he said it was a bestseller and it has been.

RS: It could be maybe on your last assignment, and that could be your last picture. Ingot's will be eight inches.

SA: A hundred thousand dollar six inch wide and six foot long ingot, modern ingot. And also a lot of the things that were fun to do were in the days when Elliot Sopkin was the PR manager at Fairchild in the late 60's, early 70's and he was very good at scaring up business for us so that we could take pictures for magazines, electronic magazines around the country and I remember one month, I guess around 1970 where we had, I think it was four magazine covers in one month where he had scared up the business from these editors. He'd go back to New York and schmooze with them and he was just wonderful at it. And this one here is older, this is 1969 and it's a picture of John Hume, Ben Anickster and Mike Markkula on the cover of Tripoli Magazine and they've all gone on to do other things as most people are aware. Ben Anickster is still at AMD and Mike Markkula has been heavily involved in Intel and later Apple Computer. Even in those days, in the 70's, the Scientific American Magazine was not over, was not yet through being over awed with semiconductors and they requested a photograph for one of their issues, in this case one in 1973, although there was an earlier one in about 1970 where they would reproduce on the cover a photomicrograph and integrated circuit that I had done. Of course, you know, everybody takes them for granted now, but it was interesting at the time. And, some other magazine covers were, we had gotten over a short span of time, relatively, this is EDN cover in 1969 where there was stacks of what was then considered to be an emerging technology where there were multiple plains of memory chips. I don't know if anybody considered how to cool these stacks of plains of memory chips, but we thought they looked like skyscrapers and photographed them that way. And this one here, which was a hybrid-integrated circuit, which used thin film arrays and semiconductors on the surface of it on a sub straight.

RS: Heat-synch monitor.

SA: Well, sort of heat-synchs. The sub straight was alumina and I think at the time that Fairchild was buying alumina sub straights from the Coors Brewing Company that had a sideline of making aluminum sub straights for hybrid devices. And then we had another request from the Machine Design which isn't strictly a semiconductor for some kind of a picture so we did a photograph, a photomicrograph or a photomacrograph of a large area of a silicon wafer showing all the chips and then rephotographed that photomacrograph using a fish eye lens and produced a black surround for it and they ran that on the cover.

RW: And that later became Star Wars...Death Ship.

SA: Death Star. But we had some internal magazines too, some brochures that were published and we'd do tabletop photography in our studio do this sort of thing. And then there were some nuts and bolts pictures that were popular at the time that showed actual FAB operations that were colorful and some of them, by today's standards, were incredibly crude looking with all kinds of glass plumbing and it really looked like a garage job, but it was interesting to shoot.

RW: Well Stein I want to say something about the first one you have up. That's one of my circuits. And that is a 32 gate, gate array, bipolar, and the blue portion that you see is metalization, top layer metalization It was superimposed on some other circuit, I don't know what the other circuit is. Anyhow, that is a screen, a CRT screen that we're familiar with, know and love today. That was driven by a dedicated 360 model 44 about a two million dollar computer that all it did in this mode was drive that CRT. So that was like one of the first workstations ever, but imagine a two million dollar workstation, it's not a practical way to go. And so that circa - what is it - '67 I would say.

RS: Yeah, six, '67 something like that

RW: But it just - it not only shows how far the circuits gone, but how far the computers have gone because that, a 360-44 is about a third of a BIPS processing, so it's oh about one hundredth the power of a Pentium. And, of course, the CRT and the whole thing if you would go out and buy that a couple thousand dollars. Instead of two million.

RS: Well a lot of this looks, you know, is so ancient a history now yet it's just such a short period. You did one shot, a lot of cooperation from the people in marketing services of some of your LSI chips and then with a double exposure of a people standing on the roof of a Marketing Services Building. So the idea of the world sort of standing on integrated electronics. There were fun things that we did. This was Larry's creation, that Steve I think shot these with a microscope and they came and Larry's playing around with the different treatments and he flips one over and says oh man, this is a nice looking...

LB: That was actually two different color variations, or transparencies, of the same part of the circuit.

SA: The Marsky interference contrast exposures that give false color but more visual depth of field than is possible with a normal bright field photomicrograph, but false color, but very interesting.

LB: One of the things we had done and I'm repeating myself is continually using these things as an art form.

RS: It would be a surprise to us or Steve I'm sure to see it and I would never have thought of constructing a sort of a, you know, a metal man like that, but anyway, but that came out of a close, everyone working together.

RW: But going back to the art form thing, modern circuits are not, they're indistinguishable. I mean, you can't you can't see the features.


LB: It's like shooting fabric, it's like shooting fabric.

RW: So they're not very interesting anymore.

RS: This was is an interesting day still, you couldn't resist putting a few poor memory things in there on the cover, and then some of Fairchild, Intel, other things. But anyway, it was, I think that working in-house guys in a technical field it can be really wonderful where you worked with technical people. This was done early, oh, early for Intel Corporation.

RW: That's one of mine. And notice the picture on the left, that's all of Intel early on, when they were a couple years old.

RS: Yeah, that's right.

RW: All those people, you can't see it on the video, but there's probably fifty people there, that's all of Intel.

RS: Our marketing services building was across the street.

RW: It's grown a little bit since then.

SA: I photographed the photographer as he was shooting that picture. I photographed him from our Marketing Services Building across the street.

RS: And playing around on the, on the early thing of again instead of projecting things just on people or just on things is in this case it was a brochure to do with appliance products and they painted coffee pot and toaster and things white and projected an appropriate integrated circuit on it and with, and it went beyond clowning occasionally with Tom Luke with all silicon chip glasses. These were some of the other covers that we did and Steve appears of course in this and this one, with the Intel memory board and the donuts, really, really almost didn't get published. That the magazine looked at it and here's, well I went down the street and bought, and Larry and I were in Palo Alto then, and we went down the street and bought four glazed donuts. I ate two of them and then took one and put it down and then took a bite out of the other and put it there alongside Intel's first major competitive board with core memories. Well the magazine is in a dilemma because they wanted new things but it was ridiculing obviously the core memories and that is a trillion or billion dollar business or whatever and this is a zero business. So they vacillated for months and then finally it was used as an inside cover. Because they were sweating out that all the companies were selling tremendous amounts of memory were...

RW: Who were also advertising.

RS: Yeah right advertising, and so that was one that almost didn't make it to print.

SA: Even Fairchild made core memories.

RS: There were some pictures that were sort of photographers favorites and there's some of this in the early days at R&D lab with, just the quiet was then with the fewer people, just like you mentioned at Intel, the early days in the patio at R&D Lab on Charles - or on, pardon me, what's now Foothill Expressway and Levio Galuzzi must have been the oldest guy at Fairchild and added a real kind of age to a picture and it was a nice contrast to all the kid faces. And again another version of some of our projections on, in this case on, one of our employees face and hair.


SA: She was a technical illustrator who had been a flower child from San Francisco during the hippy era. She wasn't the only one, you also projected some of those images on Ron Turner's wife.

RS: Yes, right, there is one here, anyway, but just different treatments that, and combinations of light that Steve and I had worked out. And the photographs of now odd looking or retro hybrid...

RW: Yeah, they're called hybrid which is multiple chips in the same package.

RS: But for special purposes and at the time it was appropriate but then again nowadays. Well one of my favorites I think is sort of, was Honest Abe on a penny with our smallest transistor chip. I just liked Abe Lincoln's profile personally, but that was used in a number of places in PR and others. This is another model with some, this is a one less successful things, but we would stoop to anything in some ways. And then later years Larry is doing your projects or things, Intel annual reports and that like, Larry's designs are certainly elegant and...

RW: Won a number of awards...

RS: Anyway that's just a few of the kinds of little visual highlights that are fun to think back on and that's the kind of thing you never end up with in newspaper work. The newspaper is gone with a stale fish in two days or in one day and that when you create art or you're working toward it to incorporate art into things, that really art is long and time is short. And so I think that some of the things we created will last longer than us.

RW: Amen. I think it's fine work and largely unrecognized because it's industrial...

RS: Yes.

RW: ...considered industrial. But compared to modern art, you know, the MOMA [San Francisco Museum of Modern Art] and beautiful building with all this garbage on the inside of it, but then if they offered to give you one of them to take home you wouldn't want it. This is much better I think.

RS: Unless Picasso's goat still in the patio.

LB: When I first came up here from Los Angeles and I rented a house in Sunnyvale and everybody in Sunnyvale was an engineer except me and I met someone across the street who was an engineer at Lockheed and he said what do you do? And I said I work at Fairchild Semiconductor. What do you do there? I said I'm the art director. He said oh yes, those circuits are beautiful.

RS: Wow. Wow.

SA: He was right but he didn't know why.

LB: He thought they hired me just to make them look nice.

RW: Any last words guys?

RS: Let me put in that pitch again. I'd say for any young person looking at this, any of this tape Rob that you've done, that teamwork and looking for other people that you can associate with who have different skills and you can do some kind of interdisciplinary thing together that...that that's certainly been a success thing and all through this new technology and through people Larry and I know, with Larry and myself, and Steve and myself, and that compatible people with different ideas and skills who can really work together and you can laugh your way through situations that everyone else is crying in.

RW: Well you know that was kind of revolutionary in the '60's, but honestly that's, you know, reinventing the corporation, re-engineering, so it's quite now fashionable.

RS: We could stand like that example of being attacked because of wanting the mask making facility to help, that it was a funny situation, wasn't it? I mean you laugh and other people would be crying. I mean really that - in of the same sort of like we used the example of Talbert and Widlar, two similar guys, and one guy wouldn't think of the other certainly would. And of that, that the whole thing was a kind of humorous game for them because of their own mutual support and you experienced that I'm sure in your, the same way where you get together and sort of you form, you get teams and you're a lot stronger than any individual. And you can put a cast on things, you know.

RW: The trick is not to worry about what you're bad at. Just worry about what you're good at and then you get a team together and think they're really good in certain areas, and you don't worry about say if the guys bad, it's not his job! And that's absolutely the success of LSI Logic, the founders were all that way, you didn't overlap much at all and I never went and told the process guy how to do processing, and he never went and told me how to do engineering and that was just fine. And we were very successful.

LB: I think we were very fortunate, I was very fortunate to be at Fairchild at that time, we all were, in the mid 60's and throughout the whole 60's and management created, I've always thought that management created an opportunity and I looked at it for myself because if I agreed to the opportunity to fall flat on my face. And I couldn't ask for anything more than that. And I'm just lucky to be in the right place at the right time in that situation to do it and to be part of it.

RW: If you can't fail, you can't be great either.

SA: I'm, as I mentioned before, I'm very glad that I was brought into this business and it did make a lifetime career for me which I'm still working in, and very pleased at, I still enjoy my work and I like doing photomicrographs, I like, as I mentioned a few minutes ago, still seeing some of the people who were back in the even earlier days than we were. There are some people at National Semiconductor I photographed for one of their news magazines, employee magazines, that there were three people in that picture that had been with the combined Fairchild and National for thirty-five years. And they were still there. That's six years longer than I had been with them.

RW: Well that's essentially the whole history of the semiconductors because it hasn't been around for that long.

SA: That's right, still there

RS: That's what you're doing in 1995 and what are you doing in 1995?

LB: Well, I'm still running my design office in 1995.

RS: And your clients?

LB: Clients are all primarily high-tech, primarily semiconductor companies, although we have clients all over the United States now.

RS: I left the industry really in around 1973 in that period and I wanted to go out into the wilderness and do things. I moved down to Southern California with my daughter after I had some sort of personal reverses in the Peninsula, and I didn't want to stay working in a lab or doing photomicrographs or being indoors, I wanted to go out and so I went down and lived at Lake Arrowhead a few years and out in the Mojave Desert and I've never really quit that, you know, a world leader in railroad photography in international published and things, and it's, I really love the field work. But there couldn't have been anything better in the early days though, at Fairchild and with the compatibility and things that went on and the excitement of the integrated circuit business.

RW: Well thanks guys.

RS: Thank you.

LB: It's a pleasure.

SA: Thanks Rob.