William H. Davidow

Born: April 6, 1935 | Reading, PA, US

William H. Davidow obtained his MS in electrical engineering at Dartmouth College, after which Davidow decided to pursue science over business and enrolled in the California Institute of Technology. After receiving his MS at Caltech and his PhD at Stanford University, Davidow worked at General Electric on peripheral devices.  He realized that his talent was in marketing rather than science, and moved on to marketing positions. After working at Hewlett-Packard and Signetics Memory Systems, Davidow moved to Intel and became responsible for marketing of its microprocessor development systems. Eventually he was charged with running the microprocessor division, and embarked on a massive marketing campaign called “Operation Crush.” After the success of Operation Crush Davidow moved to work in Intel’s marketing and sales division; this is the time period during which increasing Japanese competition forced Intel to withdraw from the memory business and focus of microprocessors.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0362
No. of pages: 22
Minutes: 76

Interview Sessions

David C. Brock
8 May 2007
Palo Alto, California

Abstract of Interview

William H. Davidow begins the interview by describing his early interest in science and technology. After a five-year program and obtaining his MS in electrical engineering at Dartmouth College, Davidow decided to pursue science over business and enrolled in the California Institute of Technology. After obtaining his MS at Caltech and his PhD at Stanford University, Davidow worked at General Electric on peripheral devices. Davidow realized that his talent was in marketing rather than science, and moved on to marketing positions. After working at Hewlett-Packard and Signetics Memory Systems, Davidow moved to Intel and became responsible for marketing of its microprocessor development systems. Eventually Davidow was charged with running the microprocessor division, and embarked on a massive marketing campaign called “Operation Crush.” After the success of Operation Crush Davidow moved to work in Intel’s marketing and sales division; this is the time period during which increasing Japanese competition forced Intel to withdraw from the memory business and focus of microprocessors. Davidow concludes the interview by offering his thoughts on Moore’s Law, interactions and philanthropic work associated with Moore, and the impact Gordon Moore has had on Davidow’s life.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1957 Dartmouth College AB Electrical Engineering
1958 Dartmouth College MS Electrical Engineering
1959 California Institute of Technology MS Electrical Engineering
1961 Stanford University PhD Electrical Engineering

Professional Experience

General Electric Company

1961 to 1965
Manager, Peripheral Equipment Laboratory

Hewlett-Packard

1965 to 1969
Manager, Marketing and Sales

Signetics Memory Systems

1969 to 1973
Vice President, Marketing

Intel Corporation

1973 to 1985
Vice President, Microcomputer Systems Division; Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales

Mohr Davidow Ventures

1985 to 2008
Founding General Partner

Table of Contents

Family History and Education
1

Early interest in science and technology. Decision to attend Dartmouth College. Sputnik and decision to become a scientist. Master's degree at California Institute of Technology. PhD work at Stanford University.

Early Career
2

Peripheral devices research at General Electric. Marketing work for Hewlett-Packard. Time at Signetics Memory Systems.

Career at Intel Corporation
3

Running marketing for the microprocessor development systems. Decision to keep Intel operating system in-house. Working for Edward Gelbach. Working with Leslie Vadasz to develop microprocessor systems. Thought on roles of Gordon Moore, Andrew Grove, and Robert Noyce within Intel.

Career development at Intel
9

Being in charge of the microprocessor division. Operation Crush. Working in the sales and marketing division. Japanese competition and Intel withdrawing from the memory business. Push for Intel allocations in Asia.

Thoughts on Gordon Moore
17

Thoughts on Moore's Law. Interactions with Gordon Moore after leaving Intel. Moore's philanthropic work. Impact of Gordon Moore. Interactions with various Intel executives.

Index
20

About the Interviewer

David C. Brock

David C. Brock is a senior research fellow with the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. As a historian of science and technology, he specializes in the history of semiconductor science, technology, and industry; the history of instrumentation; and oral history. Brock has studied the philosophy, sociology, and history of science at Brown University, the University of Edinburgh, and Princeton University.

In the policy arena Brock recently published Patterning the World: The Rise of Chemically Amplified Photoresists, a white-paper case study for the Center’s Studies in Materials Innovation. With Hyungsub Choi he is preparing an analysis of semiconductor technology roadmapping, having presented preliminary results at the 2009 meeting of the Industry Studies Association.