RW: This is Rob Walker and we're here with Harry Sello. It's April 8, 1995 and we're in his Woodside home. Thanks for inviting us Harry.
HS: My pleasure, Rob.
RW: Why don't you tell us about your early background and, you know, where you grew up and so on.
HS: Oh boy. Well, let me start with a, I don't want to go too far back because I don't want to reveal numbers. Well, I got out of University of Missouri with a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry and was lucky enough to get a job out in California right away, but at the Shell Development Corporation in Emeryville. This was the research unit of Shell Oil. It was at the time. And of course California to me was magic so once I came out here I never, I never returned anywhere else. But I wasn't there very long before I was interviewed by Bill Shockley to, who was then on his, on a hunt for putting together a team of people to work on these newfangled materials known as semiconductor devices. At that time even microelectronics wasn't used because these were all discreet devices; transistors, diodes, etc. And he was going around the country recruiting a team and he'd already put together about nine, ten guys and he asked, invited me to join his group and I was so flattered about the idea of being invited directly by a Nobel Prize winner that my resistance evaporated in ten seconds. Of course, when I later got to know Shockley I'm surprised I had that long because he was a pretty terrific personality. But an interesting sort of side line to our story was that at Shell Development at the time there was a guy by the name of Bratton working, Bill Bratton, and Bill was a colleague and he came around and wanted to know where are you going and I understand you got in touch with Shockley. I said no, he got in touch with me because I couldn't let it be known at Fairchild that I was out looking for a job, which I wasn't. It was invitation. He said well, I wouldn't do that if I were you. I said hey Bill, why not? Sounds like an exciting idea starting out on a career under a Nobel Prize winner. He said no, you're in for trouble. He said believe me, I've got my reasons for thinking that. And of course immediately I realized that this Bill Bratton is a brother of Walter Bratton, one of the team of Shockley, Bardeen and Bratton who got the Nobel Prize for the transistor structure and the PN-junction. But he wouldn't say anymore than that other than saying well, you'll, you'll probably be in for trouble because it's difficult to work for a guy like Bill Shockley. So I said, of course, to me that was a challenge because there isn't anybody that I can't work with - said, I said to myself. That isn't exactly true but he was a, he predicted the outcome. Bill Shockley was a brilliant genius. I've never been more stimulated technically in my life than the two years I spent working at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. Of course, I had to take a series of psychological examinations before I could join Shockley and I didn't understand that. It later turned out that Shockley was having so much trouble with personalities on the job with guys like Noyce and Moore and Jay Last and Sheldon Roberts that he was taking, now, the precaution in hiring of putting guys through a whole series of Rorschacs and theme - theme, what do you call them, theme tests - theme apparition tests and testing these guys out to see, on guys like me to see if they would fit.
RW: Thinking that the problem was with the employees and not himself.
HS: Always. That was the basic, exactly. You got it.
RW: I mean if you can't get along with Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore, I mean...
HS: You have to be some sort of a devil. Well, those two years were good. I got to know the, what then later turned out to be the Fairchild crew. The technical aspects were beautiful. But there were so many incidents of what Shockley would do. In one instance we were all sitting in together listening to a lecture given by Tom Sah, C. T. Sah. Dr. Sah, who at that time knew more about MOS type structures, I believe, than anybody else in the world and related structures to that. And Sah was giving us a lecture on some of the device physics. Very much like what Andy Grove later, years later started to do with Fairchild. And Shockley walked in at 8:00 in the morning and wanted to know what everybody was doing in the meeting room when they should be out working. So he dismissed the class entirely. And he said by the way, what is Dr. Sah talking about? Well, he's talking about device physics. He said well stay. I'll finish the talk for him. And he did. He had no idea what we'd been talking about. No idea where we were in the subject. But that was Shockley and his ego. There are a lot of little stories like that. He invited me to go swimming with him one lunchtime at Stanford. Just, you know, personal invitation. Hey come on; let's go take a swim. He had heard earlier that I liked to do a little swimming or did a lot then. He said wonderful pool. Let's go over there, take some time and relax. And we both dove into the pool about the same time and he said I'll race you. And he beat me; he was pretty fast. And we kept swimming a little bit. And after about four or five lengths I sort of hauled myself out gasping at one end of the pool. I wasn't in quite good shape. Shockley stayed in there and completed over thirty lengths. And he had to show me how much better he was at even swimming than I was. And that was a mark. You know, it was that kind of, everything was tell me what you're doing and I'll tell you how to do it better. But it was a stimulating experience. And I learned what, I learned at that time what, what then the beginnings of a silicon industry. The semiconductor industry up to that point, what little there was, was germanium. All the guys at Shockley with the exception of Bob Noyce had never even seen a piece of germanium. Bob had seen it because of his Philco work in which he later left to join Shockley. Well, they went off. They'd been there a couple of years by the time I got there so I stayed on for another year and a half or so and finally I got to be a victim of what Walter, what Bill Bratton had warned me about, that Shockley was a tough guy to get along with.
RW: Now what did Shockley call the guys that went off to start at Fairchild?
HS: A bunch of traitors, a bunch of traitors. Absolutely. That was, when he no longer, we had meetings hosted, arbitration meetings hosted between us, the Shockley bunch and Bill Shockley and they were arbitrated by Beckman, who was the financier for that whole group. And he was the arbitrator, Arnold Beckman of Beckman Instruments. And he couldn't, there was no common ground. Every time one of the group of employees, all these top Ph.D.'s started to say something, Shockley would charge in and accuse them of lying, of distorting, of not telling the truth, and he wanted to tell what the real story was.
HS: The man was a genius at research and experimentation. He could come in and with a few words he could look at your series of experiments and then suggest maybe one or two more definitive type of experiments that would bring you right to the conclusion. He had an uncanny ability for doing that. His brilliance was that, but to talk to somebody and to give an opinion emotionally was totally impossible. Couldn't manage the organization. Couldn't manage it. He should have been the research director and Bob Noyce for one or anybody else at that time could have run the organization, which of course they amply demonstrated later at Fairchild. So that was the start.
RW: So, so when...
HS: Physical chemist got converted into a semiconductor scientist.
RW: So then eventually you went to, after a couple of years you went to the fledgling Fairchild.
HS: Yes. Yes. I took a little tour around to see what every, all the other industries were doing, the old state, Eastern, East Coast Route 128 industries like Raytheon, Westinghouse, Sprague, Transitron and didn't like them and I got a call from Gordon Moore saying why, what are you doing out there wasting your time. He said you know you're going to be coming back here. So come on back. We need you. The need turned out to be, at that time, more vital because it was the time when Fairchild itself had suffered the malaise of our industry, which is their first crew that they had was already deserting, in Shockley's terminology, to go form Reeme Semiconductor. And Dave Weindorf, now at Hewlett Packard and I guess since retired, had been leading the group of pre-production engineering and he took his group out, a few key guys, and they went down the street and formed Reeme Semiconductor and suddenly Gordon and Bob Noyce were faced with a tremendous hole in the team, so I could fall right into the spot that Dave Weindorf had to be the head of pre-production engineering, which was a pilot group. It's interesting because, you know, there was the first lawsuit against the theft of intellectual property, which got to be such a plague in our industry as you well know. As a matter of fact, we did discover at Reeme Semiconductor some months later, we did discover a stack of Fairchild manufacturing and development process specifications, a stack of telephone books that had been lifted, shall we say, and taken over to Reeme and used to build the process there. Reeme even went so far as to hire the same architect and the same engineers to set up an operation in their building down the street from Fairchild, which when you walked into you felt you were still at Fairchild.
RW: Now you say you discovered it. How were you able to discover this?
HS: Well, after a lot of arguing back and forth an injunction was issued and the marshals of the court were allowed to go in and investigate the offices of those people who left Fairchild to go to Reeme. And it probably is rather stupid or overlooked, or maybe nobody cared, but in one of those offices they found a stack of those specifications.
RW: I would say that's rather stupid.
HS: It's rather stupid. Right. By the way...
RW: If you're going to be a thief you should be smarter about these...
HS: By the way that's occurred, you know, that's occurred again and again. Sometimes, many times these engineers who think they can just grab up some paper and take it with them, proprietary drawings, circuit diagrams, topography, they're pretty casual about it. You know, I own it because I invented it; therefore, who's going to complain. And we were loose about litigations then. It's nothing like compared today. Today litigations are at the top of the pile. So that, I was going to be at Fairchild anyway but that gave me a nice job start. And uh, let's see, what happened then...
RW: Well, now there were some other folks there that subsequently became famous names in their own right like Charlie Sporck.
HS: Oh yeah. Right. Absolutely. Charlie Sporck was the manufacturing manager when I became to be the head of, when I came to be the head of pre-production engineering. He then later formed National. Dave Allison was a member of Gordon's team. He had been at Shockley as well. Forgot to mention Dave's name. And he and Mark Weisenstern left to form a group of their own. This is after the Reeme thing now, in which became Signetics. And Dave stayed at Signetics for many, many years. So people splintered off to go to other places. Later on guys like Jerry Sanders left to form Advance Devices, Advance Semiconductor Devices, and, and quite a few others. A whole stream of them kept going off and forming other business. One of the hot technicians we had, Arthur Lash who used to build our little capillary tubes that we had on each of the lead bonders that held the little gold wire that bonded to the silicon chip. And those capillary glass tubes were very tricky to make. They had to be fire polished and flattened and made so careful that they wouldn't break this hair-like wire and he started making these in a garage himself after hours and that became a separate business and it became Electroglass Instruments. Of course the time that Clark was making these things in his garage he was also working for Fairchild. And he was selling these things to the competitors of Fairchild. But it was such a loose atmosphere that up to a point nobody paid too much attention to what was going on. I was always worried having coming from the staid petroleum industry a little bit, I was worried about proprietarinous of things, and patent rights and stuff like that, and I would've been more jealous of guarding our properties than a lot of guys that went before me. Now to show you the looseness, the word planar, which was invented at Fairchild to describe the oxide covered junction, devices which the whole industry now is built on. The word planar was coined by Bob Noyce and we was advised in the early days make it into a trademark. This a perfect trademark. No. I don't have to do that. That's a word. If people learn how to use planar more widely, we'll get more advertising value and more notice out of the word planar than we would if we tried to keep it closed to ourselves as a trademark. And he was right. As a trademark you couldn't do much with it anyway. But planar got to describe that kind of structure all the way to today's structures.
RW: But at least that was patented.
HS: The structure was patented. The word planar was not patented.
RW: But that became a significant revenue stream of licensing.
HS: That's what changed the whole industry. The silicon industry up to that point was borrowing technology from the leftover germanium industry, and up to that point the so-called Mesa Transistor Area - Era. Still the same problems were being faced by the lack of reliability of these little silicon chips that when you took them out of their can and they saw air and moisture they would fail. So a whole new structure was invented because of the natural properties of silicon by both Jean Ermine, one of the Fairchild team, and by Bob Noyce, which now built a structure, a so-called Planar structure with an oxide covered junction and it was impervious to the outside world. It was built, silicon built under its own little layer of its natural rust. And at that point the whole industry changed. Les Hogan, then at Motorola is fond of telling the story that he couldn't understand what the Fairchild guys were doing because they bought thousands of trans, hundreds and thousands of the transistors, cut them apart, analyzed them, and they couldn't figure out what was going on with these transistors that simply wouldn't fail. That as soon as you took them out of the can or out of their little packages when they were supposed to fail exposed to the air, they kept on working. You could even spit on them and they would work, which was a horrible thing to do. All that salt in your breath and everything else and he said we couldn't understand it. Motorola, we were the leaders and these guys were taking over. Everybody was going planar, that we had to find out what it was. And not until he came to Fairchild that he really realized what those structures really were. It was really truly an invention.
RW: And the revenue stream from the planar patent kept Fairchild alive, therefore, some time.
HS: There were years, there were years in the decades later when the only profit shown by Fairchild could be attributed to the revenue stream due to this planar patent. By the way, an interesting story arises there about Bell Labs. You got to hear this. The, you know, Les was fond of Bell Labs. And he had a right to be. Shockley came from Bell Labs. Transistors were invented there. That was true. But Bell Labs, then, used to go around the world and anybody who was making these kind of structures was forced to pay Bell a patent right, maybe upwards of six percent or so of all of their revenues based on the original Nobel Prize discoveries of the PN-junction. And, and they enforced this. And everybody had to pay. They came to Fairchild and it was, I think, I'm not positive about this, I think it was the first company, and here's tiny Fairchild and mighty Bell Labs of AT&T of Western Electric at the time, coming to talk, exchange of patent rights with Fairchild, and a, first time Bell had done this is, the way I get the word, or one of the early times, that a cross license was written at which no money was handed to Bell, or if it was it was a token tiny sum because Bell recognized what they had missed and I wish Les could hear this being from Bell Laboratories. Bell missed the integrated circuit. They never got, they got structures all around it, they knew processing, they knew things like oxide masking which were important for that in the process, but they never got it, their hands on an integrated circuit invention. Fairchild, and, of course, Kilby's Dowdington amplifier structure, which was two junctions together in one device, co-invented, Kilby is entitled to his work. But to me Noyce invented the integrated circuit.
RW: Right. Right. Right. Right.
HS: I know that because I was an expert witness at the litigation between the two companies.
RW: I mean what Kilby did was very specialized. It's not the integrated circuit that we know today.
HS: No it's not. It's two co-existing structures.
RW: And the IC that we know today is just a million more times complex that the first one. But it's basically the same...
HS: Really, the, you're right, exactly right. And, you know, and that's what was recognized in Noyce's invention. During the time of the litigation between TI, instigated by TI and by Fairchild, who TI claimed was infringing on the Kilby structure, during that litigation, of course, a lot of people had to testify, and I was asked to testify on behalf of Fairchild as a somewhat impartial technical expert. And the whole issue was, the whole issue was based on a gold wire, which connected two structures on the Kilby structure versus an aluminum pathway on top of the Fairchild structure, which connected the same areas. The difference was the gold wire wouldn't stay. And you couldn't build structures that way because the wires would break. They're exposed. And it's just a sort of a breadboard way of making a hook-up. And what they were trying to pound into the, into me as an, and grilled me on was gold also sticks to oxide, doesn't it Dr. Sello. I said no, gold does not stick to oxide. Why do you say that? I said well, you, shall I explain it technically? And we went into the Vandervals forces and all kinds of rig-a-morole and gold doesn't stay to oxide. Ok, we'll have the next meeting. The next meeting somebody brought in a structure and say look, here is a sample of a trans, of a transis, integrated circuit with gold sticking on the oxide. And I said well, if that gold is sticking, and I don't know that it is because I'd like to wipe it with my finger, if that gold is sticking then there must be something underneath that's acting as a glue. And we took that later, we took it apart, it didn't stick in the first place and they had refractory metal evaporated on, under the gold, which made it stick to the oxide. They went through extraordinary lengths to disprove that point and never, it never held.
RW: Well, an integrated circuit today would look pretty funny with a bunch of, about a million little gold wires on there. Not too practical.
HS: We'd never, we'd never have gotten there.
HS: Because as you know, leads are the great reliability.
HS: But that small company with this bit of new reliability designed on purpose really zoomed like a skyrocket. We just put all the germanium people out of business. We put the Silicon Mesa people out of business. That was Motorola and a lot of the, and TI, we didn't put the out of business, but they had to go through that same structure.
HS: So I worked on the team. I'm proud of the fact that I worked on the team that did the metal over oxide kind of work. And that was up to, this litigation was held in '67 time frame, '66, '67 time frame. The days just before Noyce and Moore left to form Intel.
RW: Now you did a stint over at SGS, didn't you?
HS: Yes. Yes. My friend Bob Noyce came to my house one day and in Palo Alto where I was busily working in my spare time on putting in a new tile floor on top of a concrete floor, one of these old Eickler, then a new Einckler in south Palo Alto. And he says what are you doing? Well Bob, you know, I'm looking around at what am I doing. You can see it. I said I'm laying tile. He said oh, how you doing? Well, he said are you preparing the surface properly? Are you grinding down the cement so you can put the stuff? I said yeah, I did that but I gave it up because it raised dust and I generally couldn't tolerate that in the house, clouds of cement dust. He said oh you're not doing it right. He said you're using too course a grit. You should use something finer. It wouldn't have broken things apart. And I said, what's this all about? He dropped by to talk with me and we're talking about what's out on the floor. He said by the way, how would you like to go to Italy? From cement grinding to how to go to Italy. I said sure. Take a trip? When? Right now? Good. We'll do, I'll be glad to. No, I don't mean that. He said I want you to go there and to live there and work there. I said what, to do what Bob? I don't know much about spaghetti. He said no, no. You're going to make Fairchild integrated circuits in Italy. We're now a partner with Olivetti and we want you to go over and run the operation. Can you do it? Well, let's see, thinking to myself, let's see, maybe six months to get this ready and all that. I said when do you think I ought to go? He says, well I'd like you to make an exploratory trip next Monday, which is just a few days away and then come back and tell me what you think you need in order to go do the job. I said, well when would I have to start? He said, well take what you need, you know, what, another week after that? What am I going to do with the house and all that? Don't worry about that. These are only material things. I'll take care of that.
RW: Let's break now.
RW: So, SGS...
HS: Yes, that was a whole era in itself. The, Bob Noyce and his casual, loose, wonderful, soft style doing that which he did in many other things that he did is what started me on where I am in what I'm doing today as the international work. Up to that point I was not an internationalist any more than anybody else living in Silicon Valley who had just made the, not even made vacation trips to Europe. But that started me with an exposure in Italy because now I had to go there and live there and didn't know the language, strange people, totally different culture, completely different than mine. The difference was accented by the fact that Sello, while it sounds Italian, is actually of Russian extraction. But immediately the Italians took me to be a lost Italian. Oh, you've come back home. What do you mean I've come back home? I just left my home. This type of stuff. It's a whole different culture. So that started the train of what later turned out to be the second half of my, sort of career, is the international aspects of the technology that I started to do after SGS. SGS was a joint venture between Olivetti and Teletra, a small telecommunications company in Italy, and Fairchild, and it - the purpose of SGS Fairchild, Subchiatod Generali Semiconductori, was to bring integrated circuits, planar integrated circuits to Europe, bring that kind of silicon to Europe. That was the purpose and to market it and enter that market place. And we did that. We did that. I went over to run the operation. I was the Operations Manager. An Italian was the president because that, the other two partners were Italian so they could out-vote Bob Noyce on this one and Dick Hodgson who were Fairchild guys, and later that also turned out to be the reason why Fairchild wanted to get out of it because as a one out of three partner you really couldn't effectively run the operation to a bottom line the way they thought it should be run. For example, starting in 1961 we had one plant, SGS. By 1968 when Fairchild sold out its share, the Italians had elected to build about four more plants throughout Europe, and it just wasn't, four more wafer fabs, wafer fabrication plants and it just wasn't the right pace. It always, the company always ran in the red. On an operational basis it made a profit, but when you considered the investment and the industry overhead it was not making a profit. So by 1968 Noyce had already decided together with the staff that Fairchild and Gordon Moore and Dick Hodgson, even John Carter at that time had decided they were going to sell out their share so they could re-establish Fairchild independently in Europe. But that was my European exposure and that turned out to be a whole other story in itself. I learned Italian. I learned to love the language and I studied it. I had a tutor. I did classes every Sunday and Saturday morning, Saturday and Sunday morning and what Italian I can handle today I handle as a result of that. And that changed everything. Let me tell you, Rob, semiconductor engineers are hard enough to talk to in English, but if you have to cross the barrier of a language, it's totally impossible, just totally impossible. My Italian crew reporting to me all managers of departments didn't understand the theme of teamwork. That when you got a problem on the manufacturing line it's going to take everybody's efforts to put it together and make it work. We'd get, we'd get a yield problem or a defect problem on the manufacturing line and the first thing that'd happen is I'd get a delegation in my office saying Dr. Sello tell us what we did wrong. And I don't know what they did wrong. You know how this black magic works. So the first time that happened I said well, look, I don't know what you're doing wrong. I've seen what the process is like, but I'm sure we can find it out if we all work together. And there was a crisp, fallen look on the assistant plant manager's face. You mean you don't know? No, well, I don't know. I've not seen this problem before. Well, how are we going to solve it? You're the expert. And you don't know. There was a, you know, it was like it started to cloud up and rain in the office. I later learned that you don't do it this way. You come in and you say guys, we got a problem. Now I know where it originated, but I'm not going to tell you because if I tell you, you're not going to learn how to solve it. So you go out there, and here's what we're going to do, get these various trial runs going and some more reliability measurements, etc., and let's review this on a task force basis twice a week, and I'll see that you, what you're doing is right. I'm not going to tell you what the answer is. I had no idea at all of what was the, what the true answer to the problem was. But at least that built a little bit of a challenge. And I got continuously fouled up in that sort of a problem all the time. Until I really learned the Italian and I knew I learned Italian when I was called in by the plant personnel manager to say you've got to fire your own manufacturing manager. Why? Oh, he was caught at night with his secretary in the office doing some things he shouldn't have been doing on company property. I said, you know, I knew what he was referring to. I said what was he doing? Well, he was having an affair with his secretary and you don't do those kinds of things on company property. He says you can do them somewhere else but you can't do them on company property. Seriously. So I had to call this guy in and give him his time, his time and his money. And we had a big tearful, a big tearful time. I was accused in Italian of not being sympathetic, of being a western cold bastard who didn't understand what the real problems were, that I would never hope to be able to run a plant like that and certainly not the work he wanted to do, and he was being democratically, undemocratically ousted. I got this whole litany in Italian and it was only that I could answer him in Italian that I could get through. But that didn't end the problem, that particular problem. I'd learned more about the culture. The next day his wife plus their small daughter came in, wanted to see me, and she accused me in Italian "Do you realize you're taking bread out of the mouth of this child?" In very, you know, straightforward Italian words, like "you mongrel, you cretino." You're taking the bread out of, how am I doing that? Because you fired my husband unfairly and he should not have been fired. Do you know what your husband was doing, "I don't care what he was doing!" She knew damn well what his husband was doing, her husband was doing. You fired my husband and you're causing us to suffer because of that, and all because you're a non-understanding American. But when I learned the language up to that point, not knowing the language I'd get thrown by these kinds of problems. But it was a whole wonderful experience just to learn how, how these softhearted people, warm, happy, happy-go-lucky, not a, not a, the engineers without a real true sense of true responsibility for understanding bottom line problems. They knew, they were technically excellent but they didn't understand the nature of the deep business problem.
RW: Uh-huh. Imagine here in the states if there was a problem and the guys came in and said there was a problem and you, and you as the manager said I know but I'm not going to tell you. I mean they'd walk out the door.
HS: Yeah. Yeah. Who is this joker? And he knows he's not going to tell us.
RW: That's right. Right.
HS: Exactly. Exactly. I didn't, in Italian it didn't quite come out to that kind of thing. I said well, I have a pretty good idea about just approximately what happened. Ma non tutto, solo un poco pensiero. And then, you know, it'd come out you could work it out but you guys go back to work. But that was my, the start of my international stuff which later beyond the time that Fairchild, that Noyce and Moore left Fairchild to form Intel started a whole new kind of activity for me which, I really thoroughly enjoyed. But I have to tell you that the experience with Bob Noyce, you know, you and I both miss him, both miss that personality, we know him. Gordon Moore is here. We run into him from time to time. But Noyce was a special personality. He had a way of casually inspiring you while he asked you for a buck to fill up some gas in his car. At the same time you'd get an assignment, you know, all on the same level and he's likely standing around walking in shorts. I remember the first time I saw, practically the first time I saw him he came into the Shockley Laboratory on a hot summer's day in shorts. People were aghast, this guy from the East Coast in shorts? Hey, don't let Bill Shockley see you. Aaah, I don't care. What's wrong with it? You don't like my legs? I like them.
RW: What I admired so much was that after he became successful he really enjoyed it. He enjoyed life. He had his plane. He had his cabin in Aspen and he would, he'd take off from Intel...
HS: Go hang gliding or else go skiing off of a helicopter up in the Andes somewhere or something like that.
RW: So many of us don't have any other life but semiconductor.
HS: That's right. He did that. He smoked like a chimney. His smoking habit got worse as he got older. He would cad cigarettes. He'd, he literally smoked himself to death. He really did. If there was ever a case for the effect of cigarette smoke, and there were, this is all, all known to him. It didn't make a difference to him. But he...
RW: He really lived life to the fullest.
HS: He really lived it to the fullest and he inspired other guys to do that. It was that kind of an atmosphere. And that's what formed what you and I recognize as a Fairchild personality around the period of up to about 1970 or so. That personality permeated all the way downwards to the work, to the crew, to the working guys. They could work in the same kind of spirit: creative, always looking for another answer. There's got to be a way around this problem type of thing. And of course as the company Fairchild would sell for then, Les Hogan and his crew came in. It took on a whole different slant. I mean they are nice people. Wilf and Les I got to know very well. But that personality was never recaptured. The personality of the leaders of the firm after that point never permeated into, down into the working level.
RW: Well, soon there was Mahogany Row and...
HS: Was Mahogany Row with brass plates on the doors...
RW: ...with secretaries guarding the door so that...
HS: Right. You made appointments to go in and talk about a problem. Noyce's door, even when it shouldn't have been, was always open, was always open. He didn't have a very good management of his own time as a result, but boy that was an inspiring time to work.
RW: And of course at Intel there were no doors because everyone was in cubicles...
RW: ...and no reserved parking.
HS: Even Charlie Sporck since he was manufacturing manager at Fairchild, even Charlie Spork at that time and later plant manager was seen out on the production line all the time. He'd go out and walk along behind the girls working along and, and he wasn't supervising them, but they were aware that Charlie was interested. And he used to call his engineers in and he used to chew them out. I know because as manufacturing engineering manager, later, I reported directly to Charlie, and he'd say what the hell are your engineers doing? I was out there two days in a row; I didn't see anybody on the line. They got a problem in there. What are you guys doing? I said well they're working on that problem back in the laboratory. He said get their butts out on the line. Get them out there in the place where the problem is occurring and find out and keep track of what's going on. They're not going to solve it back in that laboratory. Of course, he, you know, he was being a true plant manager, but he had, that was his point. You solve, it was then, you'd solve problems that way. It was then that we invented the hand-carried run. You know that. I think you know that one. The line fails, product doesn't work, if the yield goes to zero, now you have to restore the balance. What can you do? Well, one of the things you can do is put the wafers in the hands of an engineer who has trained eyes, and make him walk the wafers through the line. It's his run. He's got to make, he's got to pick it up and carry it then to the next step. He's not going to look at any nice young girl coming over and handing him the results. He's going to go in there and put them in the furnace, take them out, take them down, test them, chop them up, make packages, and test the final, with his own transistors and maybe integrated circuits with his own hands. The hand-carried run. A beautiful tool, which I think, Fairchild invented. At least I like to think that. But it set the work back in line again. Now the manufacturing line had to reestablish itself knowing that it could be done.
RW: One of the other things that you did is discovered the electromigration...
HS: One of, thank you, Rob. One of the, for reminding me, one of the nicest things I think that I could say I feel part of a contribution. And it's all written up for example in this book The Handbook of Thin Film Technology. There's a whole chapter on electromigration sort of entombed in this classical book. Élan Blesh and I wrote that chapter in there. Yeah, that was time that the IBM as a customer called up to Gordon Moore and said we're seeing failures of our computers in the field. It happens to be your devices. Could you come out and work, tell us what's going on? Now the unusual part of that is that they called the research group. And as you know today you don't call the research group to solve a problem. You call the product marketing manager, and the product marketing manager goes to the line manager, in manufacturing, and maybe it gets to R and D and maybe it doesn't, ever. But in this small-knit, freely working group, which I think is really the way to solve those problems, you get everybody in who knows something about it, even the research guys, and get them all working on it, from start to finish. Well, they called Gordon Moore and Gordon sent me and a crew, another guy out, two other guys actually to, one of them was a circuit guy much like yourself, Rob, and we went to listen to IBM's problem, and we looked at the devices under the microscope that had failed, and we said oh, this is easy. You guys zapped them. Look, all the metal has melted. They said no, we didn't zap them. Those computers never reached that kind of a temperature. We know that aluminum melts at an extremely high temperature, and if we had, we can't even put that amount of current through the thing in order to zap. We would have melted the whole darn surface of the chip. Well, we sort of play around with it and we discover that the phenomenon known as electromigration, that when you get enough current going down a wire it will actually move the metal at low temperatures even, it will actually move it in the direction of the current. We call it the electron wind. It will just move it and aluminum is a particularly susceptible material for this, gold much less so. Unfortunately, gold as we learned earlier doesn't stick to oxide so can't use it. So, that's where we discovered electromigration. Really, I like to take credit because it was in the group but it was Élan Blesh, Dr. Élan Blesh working under my guidance, and together we kind of puzzled through the problem. He did the actual experimentation and a lot of the theoretical metallurgic work because he was a Ph.D. metallurgist and he knew more about that than I did.
RW: Yes, from a circuit standpoint we just, the design rules changed...
HS: That's right.
R W: ...and we had for a certain amount of current, we had to have to certain width of, and...
HS: Width of strip and thickness.
RW: ...and that was the ramification.
HS: That's right. And it showed up in actual circuit design data and it does until today.
RW: Well, the power, particular the power rings got real wide.
HS: Right, right. So there was that. There was contribution to electromigration. There was the work on the planar surface, the metal over oxide under the direction of Bob Noyce, the patent work that went on, and there's something else that happened that kind of leads me into my hobby side of things. For some reason, I don't know how it actually came about, well, I knew partly how it came about, I got to appear on television, and it started because in my earlier days I had run a 52 program. For once a week I ran a program on KQED called "Tempest in a Test-tube" in which every week I did experiments on the table, just like you cook bread or cake in the kitchen. Sheila keeps telling me now that she must have seen those when she was still in high school and I was doing the lecture. So we did this TV program and later I got Noyce involved in one of these programs and so there was this little bit of reputation about, you know, was two years of work actually, 104 programs that were sponsored by National Public Television. That's why I'll fight to the death to keep stuff like that.
RW: Even under the Republican...
HS: Even under this, especially under Gingrich's kind of crap. You know, this is just ridiculous. You save money by, you save wood money by burning toothpicks? I, you don't understand this, you know. Anyway, we did a, Fairchild was asked to do a nationwide program on television to, called "A Briefing on Integrated Circuits." I don't know if you in '67, you had to get up at 8:00 in the morning to see the program but it was done to explain what integrated circuits were, Fairchild style. And it's from that that doing that series nationwide that I got this pseudo-Oscar for a briefing on integrated circuits in '67. But I got to do a lot of television work that way and it came up a number of times afterwards in part of my work and I still did that as a hobby whenever I could, mostly on public television, and so that's kind of been sort of a sideline. Auction, I was an auctioneer every year for Channel 9 on KQED over the twenty years or so that they ran auctions.
RW: Well, you were also the original Barney, were you not?
HS: Well, pre-Barney.
RW: Oh, oh. Well, I...
HS: More like a Mr. Wizard, same kind of style. You'll see it, the guys that are doing it today are doing the very same things. The idea was, and is, do the live experiment on television, live. Make the mistake, allow the mistakes to happen that would happen just in a laboratory. Like, for example, one of the tools that I used was a Bunsen Burner. You turn it on and you light the gas. And the flame goes on and you work with it. Well, I turned it on, turned the burner up, put the match to it, no flame. Stuck, right out there. And couldn't figure it out, couldn't figure it out. So I said Gee, I don't understand what's happening here. I've got to use the burner. Let's try a couple of things, so I disconnected it and I hooked it onto another gas shed, didn't work, but the experiment that day, fortunately, was using cylinder of methane gas, Matheson cylinder of methane gas for some other experiments. So I thought, well I'll just hook it up to the cylinder and turn that on, and the flame worked. And there was, you could hear a roar in the audience, "Hey it works! It works!" I got a letter a week later saying My dear Dr. Sello, I enjoyed your program so much. It was from the technical director at Matheson. And I thought he was going to say, you know, I like your presentation or I like your style or something. No, no. He said I was very glad to see that when you couldn't get gas from your ordinary sources, Matheson came through. He saw the label on television. So it had nothing to do with my performance, but he saw the label. There was another time, I got to tell you about this informality having to do with this kind of experimentation. One of the experiments is you freeze an iron pipe full of water under ice and it explodes when it breaks, very simple. I did that, didn't explode. Came half an hour, we went to check it. Let's look at our experiment, looked in there, nothings happening, didn't hear a sound because you can hear a loud crack and nothing happened. I said well I guess we'll have to wait till next week till I can figure out what happened here. And so the camera turned away from me. I thought the camera turned away from me. What I didn't realize was that the red light indicating "on camera" was still on, sound was still on. And there was a little pop in the box where these pipes broke. And I said well, the goddamn thing is already broken. Just a little too late. And the director boiled out of the shack and he said, "Stop! Stop talking. What you just said went out over the air!" And I did get a postcard or two about "goddamn thing". You don't stop talking when the red lights there. Well, that was a, that's a side of my work that I think helps these days in presentation and things.
RW: Well, then you also went to Russia.
HS: Yes, courtesy Bob Noyce again. In 1968 he asked me to make a trip to Russia. I was then, I had then finished my work at SGS. I was back to Fairchild. I didn't know that Noyce and Moore and his crew and Andy were leaving Fairchild, that was the year, but he met me in New York and said I got this particular request from our board and they think we should investigate to see if there's any business that can be done in the Soviet Union. This is the full blown, hard-nosed Soviet Union. So, I can't think of anybody better, he said why don't you? I was coming back from a trip to Italy. He says why don't you go to Russia? And I said fine, I'd like to. Who do I get in touch with? He said well, here's the guy's name. Go down and get yourself a ticket right here and just turn around and go back. And I'd been in Italy for two weeks. I said, Bob, I can't do that. I've got to go home first. He says why? Well, I convinced him. I went home first. Repacked my bag, at least, and showed up alive at home first, but then I went on to Russia. That was a first trip and I have to tell you one anecdote about that, there were many. Russia then was a different country than it is today, of course, much different. It was the, you had this, The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic. It was the full-blown enemy, communist enemy, hard run and nothing happened that the government didn't want to happen. So, to conclude with the anecdote, I was doing a tour and I went through one of the laboratories and there was some work going on in silicon, and I said what are you doing in this work? They said well, were trying to measure the amount of oxide on top of a silicon chip that it takes to mask the phosphorous from coming through during the difusion process. And I said oh, yeah. I'd like to hear about that. And this guy paused and he was urged to go on because he was the one, only one that spoke English, he said Oh yes, Dr. Sello, we're well aware of the work that you have done in this field and published. He said, but you know, I'm glad that you came because that work wasn't right. And it was wrong what you published. We're doing it here and we're correcting your results. Right out of left field. They did it better and they did it earlier. And it was work that had been done at Fairchild and even partly at Shockley. But that was the nature of the beast. We went to, that was my first trip Russia, but then in later, in the later sequence of the things when I got to work with Les Hogan when he came over to transfer technology abroad, I became the technology transfer expert and was in charge of setting up operations based on Fairchild technology elsewhere in the world.
RW: Well, you know, with this, all the technology transfers that the United States has done, particularly to Japan, in retrospect did we give it away, did we give away the industry?
HS: Well, I guess I can't be objective. What we did was we didn't charge the right price. That's what I would say. First, you cannot stop the natural movement of technology. You just can't do that. It's published. People come here we go there, especially today. But what we did wrong in Silicon Valley when we started doing this, or in the industry, was that we went after it for a quick buck. We had a package of knowledge exemplified in the heads of some people and a stack of books. And so we transferred that and we got x-millions of dollars and then we walked away. And then we got a royalty fee, which continued, but what we didn't do is the next step, which is if you're going to do this, do it in a way to participate in the actual market place in which this is going to be used. If we had said to Japanese firms to whom we transferred technology for one reason or another that, look, we'll transfer our technology and this is the price, but at the same time when we transfer this one of our additional prices is we would like to work our way up to something like five percent share of all the types of products you're going to be buying if you'll give Fairchild first right of refusal or if you'll work to develop the Fairchild market share. So we should have tacked on the actual direct price of market share onto the product. We can't get it over night. We can't get it by edict, but we would like your assistance that when you go to talk to customers, we go to talk to customers with you about our products, just to illustrate what else is coming along. That way we'll keep you updated on the technology, which you want and we'll end up along with you taking place, taking part in the market place just as you do in the United States. Japan would have been a tough place to do that, but it was done. We could do it. I did it in the case of Sanyo in at least one contract for microprocessors early. Bless their hearts, early F8's. Microprocessors. It can be done. I did it in the case of, beautiful case in point that we had was the one in, the plant we established in Budapest, Hungary. You might have heard about this, I don't know. In 1976, this is now, I've left Fairchild R & D, come back from Italy, I've made a number of trips to Russia, a number of other places. As a consequence of the trips to Russia, one of the places that I explored thoroughly with the aid of the field, the marketeer in the field or the salesman in the field, working out of Vienna at that time, we went and we talked to the biggest electronics company in that part of the world. It was a company called Tungsram. Tungsram is a worldwide name known like General Electric. They make light bulbs, big power tubes, microwave transmitters, all kinds of things like that, and they want to, wanted to establish an integrated circuit factory. So I went there on this mission. I had uncovered this together with this marketing guy in the field, and in 1976 after a year of struggling, arguing with our own government because we had rules and regulations that you can't transfer stuff like this under the law without an export license, we got the export license. I got it personally going and giving lectures in Washington to people like, I wouldn't give the time of day to, idiots, down right idiots who wouldn't even listen. They only attended because some boss told them to attend. Now not everybody was like this. But that gave me a feel for bureaucracy that I have never learned otherwise today. At any rate, we got the license. We established the client. But the ranking price for this establishment was, we got something like, oh, it turned out to be, oh, I think a million dollars a year for our technology. I don't remember the exact numbers now, it was three-quarters of a million dollars a year, but we got a guarantee to supply up to fifty percent of the integrated circuits that they wanted to buy from the West. They would ask Fairchild first. And we immediately established a market share in Hungary, which exists to this day. Now, when you do that, then you're not giving away the store. You are because somebody else is established in the business, in a sense, but you're not going to be able to stop that anyway, sooner or later. But at least you're participating in the benefits of your technology in a way that pays you back like as if you might have established a plant there yourself. That was the theme that Les bought off on when I started on this hiatus in 1970, thereabouts.
RW: Yeah, you know, in retrospect, with the Japanese deals and the licensing, we never got to call on the Japanese customers...
RW: So we never knew who they were and so...
HS: Never knew their problems.
RW: ...even when we established some sort of operation in Japan we had no relationship to the, with the customer.
HS: I know, I was called over there by guys like Bob Skirkow, who was then running the Japanese, the operation and partnership of TDK of Japan. And Bob was the resident Fairchild guy on site and very seldom did they allow him to see the customers. And the main reason was that he wasn't the right, he didn't have the right culture. He didn't know how to bow correctly. He would be too offensive. He would be too critical. Why you're, you got these returns because, you know, the problems were due to improper specifications. Now you don't say that to an upper level Japanese manager. You come through the ranks and try to cede the guy from below. It isn't easy. But you never even got the opportunity to do that because a salesman for Fairchild in Japan or for anybody in Japan is second to the customer. The customer not only is king, he's emperor. And you don't go in there telling him that he's done something wrong or that even there is something wrong, not without the proper protocol. See you have to learn the culture. I believe that today. I had to learn it in Italy, absolutely had to learn it. I couldn't go around telling people in those years that their methods were corrupt. But not by my standards they weren't corrupt. For example, you didn't account for overhead charges on books in calculating costs of devices in more than one way. If you used overhead charges in a way that got you a cost you had to use the same technique in any other way of calculating. You just couldn't make it flexible to make it look better or look worse. It had to look the same. And I couldn't swallow that.
RW: Well, in today the European semiconductor industry is almost gone.
HS: Almost gone. It's either still bureaucratically run like in SGS. SGS claims that they make a profit. They're a two billion plus organization. They claim they make a profit, and I'm sure that they can show books net-net that they make a profit, but I simply don't believe it. I don't believe it because of the way their, they do their charges. The way money grants come in without being counted as money. Well, we didn't have to pay for it, we were granted the money. So why should we charge it on the books that it was paid for? You know, this is a simplified version. It is a different way, a different culture. Well, in Japan, you asked a tough question because there it's awfully hard to make a contract like this stick, but it can be done and should be tried. Now we do it by way by forming partnerships and try to enter the market as an alliance of some sort, but those have a slim to none chance of even succeeding over the long haul in spite of what Morgan of Applied Materials will tell you that he solved all the problems in Japan and he works with the Japanese better than anybody else in the world and makes a big profit there. Japanese have also contributed to that profit. I mean they learn techniques from our side as well. But to answer your question directly, if you just charge money for it you're giving it away. You're selling your birthright, but if you get in return a participation, like market share, which is the best one I can think of, now it's a different ballgame. Now you're entrenched and you're in the field. Now twenty years ago, more than twenty years ago, we did that in 1976. We got this contract with Tungsram. I went over with my two guys and, a little town in Hungary. Jonjeffs, Hungary, out where the Bull's Blood wine comes from and we actually supervised the building of plant and injecting Fairchild to the integrated circuit technology. It started with assembly and then later was to lead to some wafer fab. Interesting, and it lasted for ten years and it worked beautifully. It's the contract which I can get Ed Brouder to agree, who was running Bi-Polar at Fairchild at the time, that for two successive years his result was changed from being in the red to being in the black by the licensing fees that our guys brought in due to that Tungsram contract. He used to come round to my office, when's the next payment from Tungsram coming? Boy, he better get here before the end of the month, otherwise Wilf is going to cut my ears off.
RW: Now the, going back to Fairchild, when the Motorola people came in, so called Hogan's Heroes...
RW: ...they were somewhat shocked by our culture, by the fact that...
HS: Somewhat is putting it mild to me.
RW: ...that everyone would go down to the Wagon Wheel and talk to competitors, and at Motorola you didn't do that sort of thing...
HS: You didn't do that, no.
RW: ...and Jerry Sanders would wear these white suits, and they were really shocked by the whole thing.
HS: By the looseness of the...yes they were. Well, I have to say that you chose a very good example. The Wagon Wheel to me was an example of what I call the curse of the semiconductor industry, not the blessing. There were so many competitive firms growing up that engineers thought nothing of selling what they knew before getting a job to move over to do it. And I remember I didn't, I refused to go to the Wagon Wheel because I was embarrassed by the conversations that I was party to, that I would hear and I just didn't want to participate about, Hey, I know you got a problem and I know how you can solve it, too. And a transaction would be engaged in. That's the money transfer, that's bad enough. But even in normal conversation there was very little respect basically for intellectual property, very little respect. And it was really based on greed. If a guy was looking for a job he could go to the Wagon Wheel or other watering holes like that and he could make some contacts on based on what he knows about designing or using CAD or processing and thus get interviewed by somebody else and they would offer him a job. Now the crazy part about it is that after he got to the new company, if he didn't use what he knew in the first six months it didn't do him any good anyway because it would generally obsolete it. But that was a very bad habit that we had at Fairchild. And for those who came from more classical industries like Les Hogan and Motorola and particularly for what later turned out to be the Schlumberger guys who came from the oil industry on top of that, that was a bad problem we had and it was difficult to keep it under control.
RW: Well, speaking at Schlumberger, you were actually there when they took control.
HS: When they turned, yeah. So I went, I always like to say, I'm a crazy guy. I stayed at Fairchild for twenty-five years or more. Most people, and had one job. Most people, you know, changed six, seven jobs during the course of their career in semi-conductor, especially. A thing, which at many years ago, would not have considered a very good thing to do. If you couldn't hold a job you weren't worth much. But I like to counter by saying I had it the easy way. I stayed at one name and just changed six different companies under that one name, so we had the Fairchild crew originally, we went to the Motorola people secondarily, then we got a TI bunch that came in, marketeers and others. So we sort of led our way through different evolutions and I, here I was staying at Fairchild all the time but I could suffer the vagaries of many different managements.
RW: But Schlumberger...
HS: And then came Schlumberger. Schlumberger to me killed Fairchild.
HS: It killed it. Fairchild, up to the time Schlumberger came along back in '79 could credit, Wilf was right, it could credit about six hundred million dollars worth of business a year, which at that time was near the top. It wasn't the top by any means but it was pretty high up there, with only second to Motorola and TI, and then, of course some of the Japanese companies, but six hundred million dollars worth of business at that growth rate today would be multi-billion dollars. But then came Schlumberger and everything changed. The main thing that changed what this old oil European-oriented, conservative atmosphere came in, I was called in personally by Tom Roberts and told that the first thing you're going have to do if you want to continue working at Fairchild, and you're reporting to me as president, is you're going to have to give up all this technology transfer work. And I said well gee, Tom, you know, I can take orders like anybody, but Why? It's doing so well. We're getting bottom line results. He said, at Schlumberger we do not transfer technology. The technology belongs to the company and it goes nowhere except staying in the company, and that's how we've gotten so big. And he says There's another thing. We live on loyalty. A person stays with the company because he's loyal to it and he gives his loyalty to the company. And if he starts to change jobs he's not a person you can trust because he's disloyal. And he looked me and he said you guys in the semiconductor industry are a bunch of immature kids. You have never really grown up. You will go across the street because somebody gives you a promise in the form of an option or pays you more money and you forget about loyalty to the company. He said that's the only way you can build a future by yourself, for yourself is to be loyal. I said, well Tom, we're not living in that kind of a world. If we were living among the oil experts in France like Schlumberger and everybody was observing that kind of a thing, this is not our world. We're entrepreneurs, here. And every worker thinks he can be an entrepreneur even when he isn't. You have to keep them based on his work is fun and he gets adequate participation, and one of those things is to get options, stock sharing or something where you're part of the action. And across the street the guys going to offer it to them. When you can't, you're going to lose them. And he lost guys immediately from Fairchild, including myself that, you know, left even on their own, weren't even asked to leave like so many others were. It was a totally different kind of a character. He reminded me a lot of Shockley, not as brilliant, very egotistical, you could hardly talk to the guy. I remember Shelia and I went to a dinner at his house. He was fond of currying favor by inviting people to his house. He had a beautiful house up in the hills in, above Saratoga, Los Gatos, and as I came in I noticed he had on his mantle piece a beautiful Russian samovar. Now I have one, we have one in our dining room because I inherited it from my mother who inherited from her grandmother and never had much personal possessions, but she carried that samovar everywhere she went, this hot water cooker. And Tom had one. And I walked over and I said Tom, what a surprise to see a genuine Minsk samovar here. I could tell by the trademarks on it, by the engravings on it. And I meant it as a compliment. Well, he turned around and he said What's the matter? You don't think I'm wise enough or smart enough to know the value of a samovar? You know, hey, Tom, hey, easy. I think it's a nice one. How'd you get it? And I just wanted to walk away from that subject, but he was that type of a person. When he was at the dinner table he dominated the conversation and he called on people like a professor calls on his class. And now Sello, do you have something to say? You know, and of course I'm shrinking violet anyway, so if you're asking me do I have something to say, that's an offense. Of course I have something to say. Sheila tells me I always have something to say, but that's not the point. And he was that kind of an ego and he never really understood from the beginning what the culture was in the world that he was entering. And he thoroughly squelched all of that initiative, and the first thing that happened was within a month, a half dozen of the best guys who saw, you know, who could predict everything happening in business, they all left. Well, Wilf himself, for example, thought that an ideal way for Fairchild to continue under Schlumberger was, Wilf would still remain in charge. It would be like another start and Schlumberger would be the daddy with the deep pockets, serving on the board and all that sort of stuff, and Wilf thought for sure that he was going to be CEO. I'm sure he's glad that it didn't happen because he went on to do other bigger things, but that wasn't Schlumberger's way at all. And in a way, Rob, when the Motorola crew came in, they brought in a group of guys and without mentioning any names, I'll only say that one, maybe two of them were really technically sound. I didn't have any respect technically for a number of the guys that came with the crew. I thought Wilf was sound. I thought Les himself had a technical knowledge, but I found it hard to stretch to a respect for technical level to the other members of the crew, of course, I didn't interact with them. But they immediately took the attitude of the first thing we have to do is to clean house. And we had guys like yourself and others and we had talent coming out the ears and they did nothing but want to work. All you had to do was pay them and they would have continued. But that's not the way it's set up. Motorola hired guys that I thought were off the street that I couldn't understand how the heck they would hire them, this Motorola crew, but they kept to themselves. They were kind of a closed bunch. I felt strangely flattered in a way that when Wilf came over and we got to talking, I was in R&D and he was building transistors, discreet devices. At that time we sort of got a comraderie going, you know, nicely and then I was busy traveling all the time anyway so I didn't feel too much of that, but it was there.
RW: And then the Schlumberger people, they went on youth kick.
HS: Far worse, yeah.
RW: They, you know, get rid of everybody over a certain age and...
HS: That's right.
RW: ...bring in all the young...
HS: ...kids, yeah, who you can mold to your own standards and, of course, you know what that does. The one thing we lack in the semiconductor industry is good experience and that's the first thing they wanted to get rid of. You know, Schlumberger, if they would have treated Fairchild like a start-up, You guys, you got a business going here, you're not making a profit, you should make more profit, put it that way, and we'll let you run it, but you've go to tow the mark and here's what we'll finance, and all that sort of stuff, now you make it grow. And we'll give you growing money. I think it would have taken off.
RW: Yeah, yeah. Roberts had this presentation where by the year, I don't know what it was, maybe it was 1995 or the year 2000, they were the only two semiconductor companies left, Fairchild and I believe the other was TI.
HS: TI, Right. Yeah.
HS: Well you know why TI...he's Texan
RW: You know, forget Intel...
HS: Roberts is a Texan.
HS: And he's an ex-marine from Texas.
RW: Yeah, but...you know...
HS: I had to listen...
RW: Forget Motorola. They're...
HS: Oh, yeah. Those are Johnny-come-latelies.
RW: They're gone because we had
deeper pockets. It reminded me of the Vietnam War, you know, we can win because
HS: We have more subs...
HS: ...last longer.
RW: And we drop more bombs, well, you know, that doesn't work.
HS: Doesn't work that way. No, doesn't work that way. Your analysis is close on to what I felt of exactly what was happening at that time. I recall two things; one was, in the case of Tom, after this technology transfer thing, at that time we had just completed, we were already into the, well beyond the third, fourth year of this very successful Tungsram contract and the next step was to transfer to them for even more money and more market share the simple wafer fab operations going a step at a time back into wafer fab into the front end and we had the contract. Also, at that time, Dick Abraham, who was in charge of bi-polars, had, and I had made a couple of trips to Vienna, Austria where together with an Austrian steel, not a steel company but an oil OMV. An oil company had built, developed a contract for building a bi-polar plant in Vienna, a small bi-polar plant, you know, to go out to be a piece of Fairchild, one of the Fairchild operations in Europe. And we had gone through that contract and Tom Roberts had called me, and to get that contract I had done negotiations all the way up to the level of the chancellor, the chancellor himself because he was interested, the government was interested in this thing and I got to know him and I got to meet him and we got this contract actually signed off. And Tom Roberts called me in and said a couple of assignments I have for you. One is you got to go to Budapest and call off that contract for wafer fab. And you, then you go to Vienna, maybe even on the same trip, and cancel that one. And I said, Tom these are contracts. He said, we're not going to do these. I don't care what you say. We're not going to do it. Fairchild, Schlumberger does not transfer technology. I said, but look Austria, this is at the government level. It, you know, we got a real foot in there. We've got the thing to go. No. If they don't want to do it I'll call up in France and we'll cut off the shipments of airplanes to Austria.
RW: How to make friends.
HS: Yeah. I said I thought you were going to say you were going to tell planes to go over and bomb Austria. No, we don't have to do that. We'll just cut off their shipments. Right at the government, cut them off at the pockets. So I had to go and do that. There was a third contract that you won't believe now. I happen to have the dubious honor of being one of the first guys into China on behalf of Fairchild during this period and that was in, about 1970. It was during the time that we were tesling with the Tungsram contract about, we were carrying on, you know, discussion activities at various levels. That took a few years to develop, but actually by the time Schlumberger had come into place, I actually had the step, the letters of intent, I had the intent signatures for an operation in what was then the Silicon Valley of China in the province of Cheng-Chow in Hunan Province. We were all ready to go. We had the contract and it was going to be another one of these Tungsram type operations.
HS: We had that.
RW: What would, today...
HS: I was so proud of that, Rob.
RW: Today that would have been worth...
HS: Oh, and you know we...
HS: We got the license. We, it was just, in a way it was easy because I'd gone through the agony of the Tungsram contract. So we could sort of repeat this. And we got it, we even got an outside, outside bank financing because when I told Wilf about it he said well, we haven't got that kind of money to invest in this. I said well, the Chinese have worked out a way of getting some money from a New York bank that together with our technology we'll do that. Well, along came Schlumberger. I had already been to Austria, called that one off, to Budapest where even last week when I was there on a similar mission I was afraid to show my face because of the way we handled ourselves then. There's another story that goes with that in China that I could, you know, tell you about. Well, the attitude of the old, sort of, old line east European organizations like Schlumberger working in the entrepreneurish style and the mismatch was very evident by a lot of incidents. In fact, in my own work, like the case of going over to Austria to try to, to cancel out of that contract directly to the chancellor, I had to go and apologize to him and to explain to him what was wrong with Austria that we didn't want to go there. And I just told him that the decision was made in Paris, France and we received orders from there. I covered, I tried to cover for Tom Roberts' ass when I shouldn't have. Shouldn't have. There was no need to. I mean a fact is a fact. I could have just told the story the way it was. I just didn't feel it was the thing to do. I was really worried about my own reputation as well. I mean I didn't want to think that, hell, I worked so hard to get this contract, it must have been good up to that point, what could go sour, so I tried to bring it out in terms of the business picture as seen from France with different, with the new owners type of thing. And that's what happened in China. Here we had gone, here I had gone to China for the first time in 1970, made a number of trips after that, always looking to see where business might be worked out on this technology kind of a transfer. Most of these trips were very carefully chosen because to be of good business value, not just only tourist types because China, even today, is not a place where you're going to be comfortable on a long tourist trip. You're going to run into wrong food. You're going to run into uncomfortable places. People go and they enjoy but I wouldn't pick it as a first choice. At any rate, so we had worked up over the years at Fairchild to the period of about, it actually happened in about 1977, '78, just before Shlumberger took over, we actually got a contract with the Ministry of Electronic Industry in China to build the beginnings of a integrated circuit plant in the province of Hunan in Central China in the city if Cheng-Chow. Now that had some historical value because it's also where Mao Tse-tung was born. And Chairman Mao had quite an aura in that Hunan Province and it was a pleasurable place to be. They had some semiconductor work going on so we succeeded in getting this contract. And again, I was due to go over there to go to the next stage of that and Tom Roberts called me in on - before, as I did before I went on these trips, you know, what are you going to do, how's it going to work out type of thing, natural kind of supervision. He said well, you know, it's not going to work in China, for us. I said, I was ready. I was primed. I was just ready for that question. I said, Tom, that doesn't make sense. Schlumberger has got tremendous oil interests in China already. Wireline, their oil company, Wireline is sitting outside of Beijing with all kinds of technology crews. I mean the name Schlumberger is known. He said, we are not transferring technology even in that operation. We are drilling for oil on behalf of the Chinese and they're going to pay us for gallon of oil that we pull out of the ground. I'm very argumentative. I can get to be at some times. I said Tom, you know, you and I know that doesn't, isn't the way it works. You're training a Chinese crew, you're teaching them everything they need to know about how to run wells and how to explore and how to run a field, and there's going to come a day in the future, not too far off, where they're going to be the ones that are going to be working on Schlumberger technology to drill oil. You may get a share of the action, which you should, but their technology is going to be there. He said nope. They're going to be our employees. We're going to be telling them what it is they have to do. We don't transfer technology. And besides Fairchild is not going to do it. Nice logical reason. Well, this time I had, I got up a little more of my spine than I had the times before and I said Well, I'll go and do that because if the contract is going to be abrogated we better do it now rather than later. I said but Tom, I'm not going to do it unless you go with me. I want you to be with me when we talk to the chairman of the Ministry of Electronic Industry. You have to do that. He said Why do I have to do that. It's your job. You do it. I said Tom, no. This is Fairchild reputation on the line, and you're the top man. Protocol in China says, like it does in many other countries, that a top man talks to a top man. I am second tier. I'll talk to the second tier guys. I know them. I'll introduce you. I'll do all the amenities, but when it comes time to say those magic words about we are not going ahead with this you have to be there to face them. And I just refused. It turns out that I left shortly thereafter anyway, not for that reason, but he went. I was very pleased that my arguments were telling. I said it'll affect - oh, I said it'll affect your Wireline operations in, already outside of Beijing because they are going under the name of Schlumberger and we're coming in under the name of Shlumberger because when I go and tell them I'm going to say Shlumberger doesn't want to do this, not Fairchild doesn't want to do this because we've already signed a contract. Oh, you got a point. So we went and he was very gracious about it. We went and he even allowed me to travel first class with him. It would, he didn't want it to be known that I would be sitting on the plane in another section, so he invited me to travel first class and it was on Japan Airlines when they even had those bunks at that time. They had sleeping quarters, so it was a nice trip. I have to say I went first class. But when we got there we arranged a meeting and I had him present at the very first meeting and he was a pretty good man with the spoken word. He didn't lack for words himself. He was able to handle himself and he presented a long story about he's, nice to be there, but unfortunately I'll make the story short. Unfortunately, it turns out that because of business exigencies at this time Fairchild will not be able to go ahead on the plan that they'd previously gone and he was glad that at least we hadn't gone past letters of intent. Actually, we had gone past it, but being protocol he was allowed to make a mistake, save face. I couldn't call him on that one and faces fell. I could just see it. I don't care what color the faces are, you can tell in the eyes and you can tell by the expressions when faces fall, when there's disappointment. It works in every person. Well, he did that and we went back to the hotel. And right away he asked me, we met down for, there were a couple of guys with us - we, the Schlumberger guy from Wireline was also with us, just so we kept the Schlumberger family together and he wanted to know, Well, how do you think we did? Do you think they agreed with my argument? I said did they have a choice? I said, probably not. But nobody said anything. I said, Tom you'll never hear it. You will never know what the attitude is toward you as a consequence of your discretion. No one will ever stand up to you and say you did the wrong thing. That is not polite. You, but you lost face. On behalf of Fairchild you lost face. He said Well, you know, in this business you got to do tough things. Well, we were sitting there, and this is the nice part of the story, and the adjunctive toward the assistant, the staff guy reporting to the Minister of Electronic Industry came into the restaurant and he went up to the desk and the next thing I knew is one of the desk clerks came by and said I have a message for a Dr. Harry Sello. Is he at this table? Of course, we were the only gigees there, you know, the only people, non-Chinese right there. It was obvious. Yes, here I am. I thought that maybe it was phone call. He said, well there's a gentleman out here who would like to talk to you. And so I went out to the desk and it was this, I recognized him right away and I greeted him and he said could you excuse yourself away from Mr. Roberts long enough and come back and talk with us? I knew what was in the wind. They want to know what's going on here. So I went back to Tom and I had to say, Tom they've called me back. They would like me to go back there and explain to them, he said I'm not going. I said, Well Tom you weren't invited. You know the message came to me. I can't extend it to you unless the message also came to you. Things like that aren't done. He said Well, I want you to go and then tell me afterwards exactly everything that happened because I want to know just what they think. So I said, Tom I'll give you a report. And I went back to the Ministry and we had hands-on meeting and My dear Dr. Sello, you've been here now over five years. We've gotten to know you. We trust you. We trust Fairchild. Could you please explain to us exactly what Mr. Roberts means when he says business prevents him from going ahead with this? Wasn't this an adventure, they said adventure actually, to go ahead with business? And so I had to, but the real question was, what have they done to offend? What have they done that would make us shy off, and so I went through all of that. I said look, Fairchild was just taken over by Schlumberger. It's a whole new management. And I went through the whole explanation of what happens in the United States when a new management takes over. They have whole new sets of instructions from the board of directors. But didn't the board know that you were coming to China with this guy? Yes, they knew. Why did they change their mind? I said I wish I could tell you that answer, but I was not present at the board meeting when that was decided. And I went back and Tom wanted to know, first questions was, did they have anything critical to say about me? He didn't want to know what do, what did they talk about. What did they say about me? I said, Tom I don't remember directly that they said anything critical about you. They didn't care much for Schlumberger's approach. He said, Oh thank goodness that they didn't direct their lack of, their feelings toward me, their antomy. I said well, not quite. You were approached as Schlumberger and Schlumberger they didn't like. They don't see the reason, they don't understand fully the reason why you don't want to do this. They could understand a postponement. They could understand some sort of other activity, but not a sudden stop to the contract. And that was the last thing that I did for Schlumberger.
RW: So after you left Fairchild, so what are you doing now?
HS: Well, I decided to, I thought technology for market share was a good business and that's what I'm doing. I'm working on behalf of guys like LSI Logic. At the time when I did that little, tried to do that little project with Mick, and there are a lot of outfits that still would like to plant a foot in Europe and they've got technology but no money or little money and they'd like to penetrate the market place. But an interesting thing has also happened now in the interim, Rob, that you'd be interested in as well. There is now a two-way flow. There's a reverse happening. For example, I've now taken on a piece of work for a small company in Vienna, which builds telecom circuits, line interface products. If you use these particular IC's and you want to lay a new telephone line by using an integrated version of the previous IC's, quads instead of single line products, you can lay four new, put on four new subscribers for an existing telephone line so that you don't, if you want to build another line, you dig one more, you don't just get one more subscriber, you get four more. And you can also cascade it to up to thirty-two. So they've built these IC's and the guy that started the company twenty years ago, yeah, almost eighteen years ago, has developed this business, was the guy that I first went to Eastern Europe with out of Vienna. He was the Fairchild salesman covering Eastern Europe, Manford Rob in Vienna. And he started this little company, Centrotech. And he called me up a couple of years ago and he said are you still working? And I said of course. He said would you come over here? I can use your help. So for the past couple of years I've been working on getting their product integrated not only into Europe but now we'd like to establish a manufacturing operation here or get a source going here, but out of an American company. So that's the kind of thing I do, from here there and there here.
RW: You know, going back to the Austria deal, that was killed by Seimans...
RW: ...who went in and said...
RW: ...don't do it...
RW: ...and then...so Wilf...
HS: ...but the part that...
RW: ...quite angry and so about a month or so later this high-level group came to visit us in Milpitas from Seimans and Wilf wouldn't talk to them.
HS: Oh, is that right? Good for him.
RW: Yeah. They, you know, they showed up to this group ready for an all day meeting and Wilf just told them to get lost.
HS: Beautiful. Beautiful. Yeah, the group OMV was the same one that I had talked to for Dick Abraham about a year or so earlier, a year and a half or so earlier. So when I went back I went to the same group and that's where Nick and I went, to OMV. But OMV, where they had been supportive before, suddenly melted and they were attacked by Seimans, Austria, which is run out of Seimans, Munich. And they were told under in no uncertain terms, it was a new chancellor at the time, a new finance minister and OMV just melted and I remember talking to the president and he said Well we can't get our financing off right because they were an Austrian owned company, a government owned company. And we can't get the financing to pursue with this. I said well, you know, just a year ago we did this. He said well at that time Seimans was not that much of a problem but they were aware of you this time. They weren't aware of you before. He leveled to that degree. But I thought that the new chancellor would be able to override that but he didn't. Seimans was too strong, even for that. So it's the same tact, Rob. Transferred, if you transfer technology you got to set up, these days now you set up a development operation or you set up a design lab or an applications operation, you got to do it more in the market penetration sense than, we used to do it before by brute force, wafer fabs and assembly operations. You start with, penetrate the market where it's needed first and then back it up into whatever you want to do before. So, it's been fun.
RW: OK. Well, thanks Harry.
HS: I, There's a lot more but the historians will tell the rest of it.
RW: All right. Thanks.
HS: I think that your humanistic way of going at it is the proper way.
RW: Well, thank you.