Leslie L. Vadasz

Born: September 12, 1936 | Budapest, HU

Leslie L. Vadasz begins the oral history interview describing his childhood in Budapest during World War II. He began an undergraduate mechanical engineering program before continuing in solid state physics at McGill University. Vadasz joined Fairchild Semiconductor, where he helped develop the silicon gate process and later at Intel Corporationhe researched erasable programmable read-only memory. Vadasz recounts his role as general manager of the microcomputer components division and its interactions with the semiconductor industry. Vadasz concludes the interview with remarks on the importance of technical knowledge in both developmental and managerial work.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0311
No. of pages: 122
Minutes: 773

Interview Sessions

David C. Brock and Christophe Lécuyer
15 March, 19 April, 7 June 2005
Los Altos, California and Sonoma, California

Abstract of Interview

Leslie L. Vadasz begins the first interview by describing his childhood in Budapest during World War II. Vadasz developed an early interest in mathematics and literature, and began an undergraduate mechanical engineering program before continuing in solid state physics at McGill University in Montreal. Vadasz worked on metal oxide semiconductor transistors at Transitron Corporation before joining Fairchild Semiconductor, where he helped develop the silicon gate process. In the second interview, Vadasz details the early efforts to produce memory devices at Intel Corporation, including erasable programmable read-only memory. Vadasz continues with the transition of Intel Corporation into a divisionalized structure and international extensions, at which time he became Vice President. Vadasz recounts his role as general manager of the microcomputer components division and its interactions with the semiconductor industry in the third interview. Vadasz began serving on the Board of Directors in 1988 and describes its place in assisting Intel management. He also explains the foundation of Intel Capital. Vadasz concludes the interview with remarks on the importance of technical knowledge in both developmental and managerial work.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1961 McGill University BSEE Electrical Engineering
1990 Harvard Business School AMP

Professional Experience

Transitron Corporation

1961 to 1964
Technical Staff, Research and Development

Fairchild Semiconductor

1964 to 1968
Technical Staff, Research and Development

Intel Corporation

1968 to 1972
Technical Staff, Research and Development
1972 to 1975
Director, Engineering
1975 to 1979
Vice President
1976 to 1977
Assistant General Manager, Microcomputer Components Division
1977 to 1979
General Manager, Microcomputer Components Division
1979 to 1991
Senior Vice President
1979 to 1991
Director, Corporate Strategic Staff
1986 to 2002
General Manager, Systems Group
1988 to 2002
Member, Board of Directors
1991 to 2003
Executive Vice President
2002
Director Emeritus, Board of Directors

Intel Capital

1991 to 2003
President

Harvard Business School

1991
Lecturer, System Group
2003
Lecturer, Internet Law Program

ZettaCore Inc.

2003
Member, Board of Directors

Honors

Year(s) Award
1977

Elected Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

1991 to 1996

Member, National Research Council Computer Science and Telecommunications Board

1997 to 2002

Member, Presidential Advisory Committee for Information Technology

Table of Contents

Childhood and Education
1

Family background. Youth in Budapest. World War II. Interest in Mathematics. High School. Undergraduate work in mechanical engineering. Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Emigration to Canada. Undergraduate work at McGill University.

Early Career
19

Materials Processing at Transitron Electronic Corporation. Fairchild Semiconductor. Complementary Transistor Logic (CTL). Shift Toward Design of Microcomputer by Component Manufacturers. Gordon E. Moore. Metal Oxide Semiconductor Technology Group. Personal Work on Metal Oxide Semiconductor Technology.

Formation of Intel Corporation
39

Andrew S. Grove. Semiconductor Memory. Director of Metal Oxide Semiconductor Engineering. Manufacturing-Design Communication. Marketing Role in Design. Microprocessor. Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory. Contribution to Microprocessor Production. Federico Faggin. Personal and Professional Interactions with Andrew Grove.

Expansion and Growth of Intel Corporation
67

Divisionalization of Intel. Establishment of Israel Facility. Memory. Vice President of Intel Corporation. Microcomputer Marketing and Design. General Manager of Microcomputer Component Division. Senior Vice President and Director of Corporate Strategic Staff Positions. Planning Process. Focus on Microprocessors. Board of Directors.

Intel Capital
97

Investment to Accelerate Semiconductor Market Penetration. Executive Support of Intel Capital. Networking Among Funded Firms. Digital Rights Management. Wi-Fi. Retirement. Broadband Communications Network. Conclusion.

Index
118

About the Interviewer

Christophe Lécuyer

Christophe Lécuyer is a graduate of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, and he received a PhD in history from Stanford University. He was a fellow of the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology and has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the University of Virginia. Before becoming a senior research fellow at CHF, Lécuyer was the program manager of the electronic materials department. He has published widely on the history of electronics, engineering education, and medical and scientific instruments, and is the author of Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930–1970 (2005).

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.