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Intel microprocessor chips, 1970s Noyce, Robert (1927-1990)

Robert Noyce helped pave the way to the silicon transistor, and was the co-founder of Intel, the company who created the first microchip.

Noyce was always fascinated by how things worked and loved to tinker with machinery as a boy. He took his passion with him to college where he studied physics and engineering, and first learnt about the transistor. With a degree from MIT behind him, he joined a team of scientists headed by William Shockley (one of the inventors of the transistor) in 1955.

When some of the scientists became disillusioned with their work, Noyce headed-up a breakaway group to develop modern silicon transistors. He patented their silicon-based circuits months after Texas Instruments had filed for the same product. This began a ten-year court battle, which finally ended in joint ownership.

Intel was set up in 1968, and the first random access memory (RAM) chip (1970) was followed soon afterwards by the microchip, which now lies at the heart of all modern electronic devices.

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Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

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The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

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