Jay T. Last

Born: October 18, 1929 | Butler, PA, US

Jay T. Last begins his oral history by discussing his early life and education, including his undergraduate work at University of Rochester and his graduate work in the von Hippel lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Last first joined the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory but was part of the Traitorous Eight" to form Fairchild Semiconductor; Last later worked at Amelco Corporation and Teledyne Technologies, among other endeavors. Last speaks about the business climate of Silicon Valley as well as the American and international semiconductor industries.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0292
No. of pages: 132
Minutes: 490

Interview Sessions

David C. Brock
21 June 2004
Beverly Hills, California

Abstract of Interview

Jay T. Last begins the interview with a description of his family background and youth during the Great Depression and World War II. He reviews his undergraduate education at the University of Rochester and his graduate work in the von Hippel lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There he completed doctoral research on the structure of barium titanate under an IBM fellowship. He was later invited to join Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. He soon departed as one of the “Traitorous Eight” to form Fairchild Semiconductor, where he focused on the etching process for the mesa transistor. During this time, Last formed a close friendship with Jean A. Hoerni and began collecting African art. Last then supervised the creation of the integrated circuit. In 1961, he left Fairchild Semiconductor to join Teledyne to create more elaborate circuits. Teledyne mass-produced complex circuits for military, private corporations, and internal use. Last reviews the business climate of Silicon Valley that supported numerous spin-offs and discusses the dynamics of the American and international semiconductor industries. He then recounts his private investments, including that in Intel Corporation, and relates Gordon E. Moore's contributions to Intel Corporation. Last concludes with his personal involvement with the Archeological Conservancy, his African art collection, and publishing. 


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1951 University of Rochester BS Optics
1956 Massachusetts Institute of Technology PhD Physics

Professional Experience

Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory

1956 to 1957
Senior Technical Staff

Fairchild Semiconductor Research and Development Laboratories

1957 to 1959
Senior Technical Staff; Co-Founder
1959 to 1961
Head of Integrated Circuit Development

Amelco Corporation

1961 to 1966
Director, Research and Development; Co-Founder

Teledyne Technologies, Inc.

1966 to 1974
Vice President, Research and Development

Sierra Monitor Corporation

1980 to 2005

Archaeological Conservancy

1980 to 2005

Hillcrest Press, Inc.

1982 to 2005

Think Outside, Inc.

1998 to 2005
Member, Board of Directors


Year(s) Award

Hutchinson Medal, University of Rochester

Table of Contents


Family History. Literary Interest. High School. Frank Preston. Hitchhiking to California. Independence as Youth. World War II.


University of Rochester, Optics. Kodak Eastman Company. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Arthur von Hippel. Graduate Research. IBM Fellowship. Independence as Researcher. Research at the Metalografiska Institute. Career Choices. William B. Shockley. Hiring Practices.

Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory

Compartmentalization of Research. Development of Processes. William B. Shockley's Management Style. Personal Relationships Among Fairchild Co-founders. Plan to Form Fairchild Semiconductor. Obtaining Financing. Arthur J. Rock.

Fairchild Semiconductor

Founding Fairchild Semiconductor. Planar Process. Weekly Meetings. Edward Baldwin. Finances. Rock Climbing. African Art Collection. Integrated Circuit at Fairchild Semiconductor. Production of Integrated Circuit. Management Structure of Fairchild Semiconductor. Contributions of Jean A. Hoerni.

Teledyne Incorporated

Founding of Teledyne Incorporated. Gordon E. Moore. Structure of Teledyne Incorporated. Analog Integrated Circuits. Kyocera Corporation. Financial Issues. Semiconductor Industry. Amelco Corporation. Products. Leaving Teledyne Incorporated. Venture Investments of Jay T. Last.


Socialization with Fairchild Cofounders. Investing in Intel Corporation. Gordon E. Moore. Material Technology and Semiconductor Innovation. Education. Art Collection. Archeological Conservancy. Academic Writing.


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.