Dov Frohman

Born: March 28, 1939 | Amsterdam, NL

Dov Frohman discusses his career, starting with graduate school in the US, his position at Fairchild, and his job at Intel. He proceeds to discuss the creation of Intel Israel and his role in the company.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0341
No. of pages: 60
Minutes: 264

Interview Sessions

David C. Brock
10 May, 6 and12 June 2006
Via Telephone

Abstract of Interview

Dov Frohman begins the interview by describing his early separation from his parents in the Netherlands due to World War II. After moving between several orphanages, Frohman was adopted by relatives and attended primary and secondary schools in Israel. Fascinated by electrons, Frohman attended the Technion University and majored in electrical engineering. After working for a brief stint in Israel, Frohman moved to the United States to pursue a master's degree in EE at the University of California, Berkeley. Frohman then described accepting and working at Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation for two years before returning to Berkeley as a part-time student to complete his PhD program. After obtaining his doctoral degree in computer sciences, Frohman joined Intel, a start-up founded by former Fairchild employees. While at Intel Frohman was assigned to investigate instability problems in MOS (metal-oxide semiconductor) memories that led to the invention of EPROM (erasable-programmable read only memory). With EPROM gaining commercial success, Frohman spent a year as visiting professor at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology before returning to Intel in the United States. Fueled by his lifelong desire to return to Israel, Frohman convinced Gordon Moore and other Intel executives to invest in a development center in Jerusalem. Frohman then spent the next seven years teaching applied physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem while consulting for Intel Israel. The Intel investment was a success and at 1981 Frohman took a leave of absence from the University and became the first manager of Intel Israel's new fabrication plant. As Intel Israel's operations expanded, Frohman's role expanded as well to become Manager of Intel Israel and Vice President of the Microprocessor Products Group within Intel. Frohman concludes the interview by offering impression of the role Intel played in development of the semiconductor and technology-based industries in Israel; tips on maintaining open communications between Intel Israel and Intel headquarters in Santa Clara, California, and final reflections on Gordon Moore.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1963 Technion University, Israel Institute of Technology BS Electrical Engineering
1965 University of California, Berkeley MS Electrical engineering
1969 University of California, Berkeley PhD Computer Sciences

Professional Experience

Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation

1965 to 1969
Technical Staff

Intel Corporation

1969 to 1971
Engineering Staff
1974 to 1981
Consultant, Intel Israel
1981 to 2001
General Manager, Intel Israel
1981 to 2001
Vice President, Microprocessor Products Group

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

1972 to 1973
Visiting Professor

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

1974 to 1980
Associate Professor of Applied Physics
1975 to 1980
Director of the School of Applied Science and Technology
1980 to 1981
Professor of Applied Physics

Honors

Year(s) Award
1982

IEEE Jack Morton Award

1982

Appointed IEEE Fellow

1991

Israel Prize for Engineering and Technology

Table of Contents

Family History and Early Life Experiences
1

Separation from parents at an early age. Living in the Netherlands and being adopted to Israel. Transition from the Netherlands to Israel. Early interest in how electrons moved and attraction to study electronics.

Education
3

Studying electrical engineering at Technion University. Motivation to continue graduate studies at the United States. Attending University of California, Berkeley, and obtaining a master's degree in electrical engineering working with switching diodes.

Career at Fairchild Semiconductor and higher education
5

Interviewing and deciding to work at Fairchild. Working in the digital integrated electronics department while continuing to pursue a PhD at Berkeley. Corporate atmosphere at Fairchild. MOS device research and working with Andrew Grove. Suggestion of establishing research activity at Israel Interest in MNOS that led to PhD thesis. Initial impression of Gordon Moore, Andrew Grove, Robert Noyce, and Leslie Vadasz. The formation of Intel Corporation and decision to stay at Fairchild while finishing up at Berkeley. Impact of key personnel leaving Fairchild.

Early Professional Development at Intel
14

Obtaining Ph.D. from Berkeley and starting at Intel. Investigation of MOS instability leading to serendipitous invention of EPROM (erasable programmable read only memory).

Invention of EPROM
20

Differences between working in a R&D laboratory and a start-up company. First project working on a multi-chip assembly feasibility project. Decision to drop the project by Gordon Moore and resuming research on MNOS memories. Troubleshooting instability problems in the 1101. Inspirations from solving the instability problem leading to EPROM. Presenting EPROM to Gordon Moore, fine tuning and product development. Gordon Moore's support of the project and connection between EPROM and the microprocessor.

Marketing and success of EPROM
30

Internal struggle to produce the chip and external skepticism. Successful demonstration of EPROM at the ISSCC (International Solid State Circuits Conference). Realization of connection between EPROM and the microprocessor.

Temporary teaching position in Africa
37

Feeling of completion at Intel and desire to travel to Africa. Offer from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to teach electrical engineering. Andrew Grove's objection to leaving. Experiencing culture-shock and teaching in Ghana. Traveling and seeing different African countries. Decision to return to Intel briefly before relocating to Israel.

Returning to Israel
41

Rejoining Intel and finding severe shortage of design and development engineers. Convincing management to set up development center in Israel. Intel's willingness to take a risk and interruption due to the Yom Kippur War. Accepting a position at Hebrew University to teach applied physics. Development of Intel development center in Israel and decision to be a consultant for Intel. Success of Intel Israel as product development centers.

Development of Intel Israel
46

Gordon Moore's visit and encouragement to further develop and explore Israel's manufacturing capabilities. Presenting proposal and convincing Andrew Grove and management to build new fabrication plant. Insights into operations and encouraging performance excellence. Taking a leave of absence from Hebrew University and becoming manager at fabrication plant. Obtaining software operation and further expansion of Intel Israel.

Concluding Thoughts
55

Impression of the role Intel played in development of the semiconductor and technology-based industries in Israel. Overview of development based on capability. Maintaining communications between the headquarters and Israel. Current activities on alternative thinking. Final reflections on Gordon Moore.

Index
58

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.