Arthur Rock

Born: August 19, 1926 | Rochester, NY, US

Arthur Rock discusses his life, including his service in the United States Army during World War II, his undergraduate years at Syracuse University, and his graduate studies at Harvard Business School. Rock worked on Wall Street when he discovered his interest in business technology, eventually working to establish technological companies such as General Transistor and later became involved in venture capitalism and semiconductor firms. Rock reflects on the successes of his firms, Davis & Rock and Teledyne Technologies, and comments on the growing connection between semiconductors and computers. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0265
No. of pages: 29
Minutes: 105

Interview Sessions

David C. Brock
9 October 2002
San Francisco, California

Abstract of Interview

Arthur Rock begins the interview with a discussion of his family and educational background. In 1944, Rock joined the United States Army. After World War II, Rock attended Syracuse University, and then continued on to Harvard Business School. After his schooling, Rock began to work on Wall Street and discovered that he had an interest and affinity for business in technology. At Hayden Stone and Company he worked in the corporate department to establish technological companies such as General Transistor. In the late 1950s, Rock received a letter from Eugene Kleiner that sparked his interest. He met the “Traitorous Eight,” from Shockley Semiconductor and the wheels of venture capitalism were set in motion. Rock's ambitions for the group were so radical that thirty-five companies declined them financial backing before Sherman Fairchild invested what was needed to start Fairchild Semiconductor. Afterwards, in 1961, Rock moved from his home in New York to San Francisco, where he formed Davis & Rock, a firm that lasted for seven years, with Thomas Davis. This pioneering venture capital firm met with great success, creating other semiconductor firms, such as Teledyne Technologies, Inc. Rock reflects on the growing connection between semiconductors and computers and then the decision of Robert N. Noyce and Gordon E. Moore to leave Fairchild in order to form Intel Corporation, of which he was the first chairman of the board of directors. Rock concludes the interview by reflecting on his own innovations. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1948 Syracuse University BS Finance and Political Science
2016 Harvard University MBA

Professional Experience

Vick Chemical Company

1948 to 1949
Accounting Department

Wertheim and Company

1951 to 1956

Hayden, Stone, & Company

1956 to 1961

Davis & Rock

1961 to 1968
General Partner

Teledyne Technologies, Inc.

1961 to 1994
Director

Scientific Data Systems, Inc.

1962 to 1969
Chairman of the Board

Arthur Rock and Company

1968 to 2003
Founder and Principal

Intel Corporation

1968 to 1974
Chairman of the Board
1968 to 1999
Director
1974 to 1980
Vice-Chairman of the Board

Apple Computer, Inc.

1980 to 1993
Director
1994 to 1999
Director

Honors

Year(s) Award
1987

Medal of Achievement, American Electronics Association and the American Academy of Achievement

1995

California Business Hall of Fame

1997

Arents Pioneer Medal, Syracuse University

1999

Lifetime Achievement in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Award, University of California

1999

Private Equity Hall of Fame

2001

Visionary Award, Software Development Forum

2002

Business Leader of the Year, Harvard Business School Association of Northern California

Table of Contents

Early Life, Education, and Career Path
1

Family background. Attending Syracuse University after World War II. Work at Vick Chemical Company. Enrolling in Harvard Business School. Motivation and interests throughout schooling. Work in the corporate department of Hayden Stone and Company. Receipt of letter from Eugene Kleiner leading to meeting with the "Treacherous Eight" and the creation of Fairchild Semiconductor.

A Good Move: Finding Venture Capital Possibilities on the West Coast
10

Moving from New York to California. The innovative formation and implications of Davis & Rock during the 1960s. Creation of Teledyne and key people in that company. The growing connection between semiconductors and computers. Inclusion of members of the "Treacherous Eight" in Davis & Rock.

The Origination of Intel Corporation
15

Robert Noyce's decision to leave Fairchild Camera and Instrument. Overview of the formation of Intel. Strategy and detail on raising the capital necessary for the company. Position as first chairman of the board and the primary concerns of a pioneering company. The decision against manufacturing computers.

Conclusion
22

Involvement with other semiconductor and computer firms through the 1970s and 1980s. The shifting yet effective governing structure of Intel. New venture capital competition and the growing field. Comments on "Rock's Law. " Relationship with Gordon Moore. Reflection on business innovations.

Index
27

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.