Robert Noyce (1928-1990)

January 14, 2007: REWARD - Jim Pallas, sculptor of the Hitchhikers, is offerine a $300 reward for the return of Robert Noyce. Please contact us if you have seen him exhibits _at_ ylem _dot_ org or 650 591 7999.

Sculpture by Jim Pallas


Robert Noyce was shown early Bell Labs transistors in physics class, and knew he wanted to work in that field. After a time at Philco, Noyce confidently moved his wife and two kids to California, bought a house then approached Shockley for a job. A story that sticks to Noyce is that as a spunky Grinell College fratboy, he stole an Iowa farmer's pig. When Noyce broke away from Shockley Semiconductor in 1957, asked by seven of the "traitorous" young researchers to lead them in their new company, the crusty old Shockley accused them all of stealing his expertise. This ushered in the Valley's age of Confidentiality and Non-Competition Agreements and the technologist as free agent, essentially broken off from corporate loyalties. Shockley misspent his final years, in porcine bumptiousness, besmirching his scientific rep with cockamamie racial theories; Noyce kept his mind on real work.

What is essential? The chip. At Fairchild Noyce invented the integrated chip (a silicon chip with many transistors etched into it, all at once). With Gordon Moore, Noyce left Fairchild in 1968 and founded Intel. There he gave his young employees room to accomplish their research, and he recognized Ted Hoff's microprocessor as the next big thing. Intel proved to be more than a pig in a poke.

Intel was ripe for parody when many engineers snickered at those "Satan Inside" stickers in the 1990s. The "Traitorous Eight" honored the father Shockley by betraying him. Did I betray my own engineer father by becoming an artist? Or did I honor the displaced part of him voted "Most Artistic" in highschool, Cambridge (MA) High and Latin '24? It's as if once I moved back east to a tenure-track job, he thought OK, you can be the Professor Mosher now, and peacefully died at age 94, living at home till the end.

I do like the late '50s-early '60s sartorial style of those guys like Moore, the white shirt (often short-sleeved) and necktie. I inherited a bunch of ties I like from my father, his daily wear as an engineering professor. Engineers like him, and Moore, carried their pens in a pocket protector. About 1990 I suggested to BayCHI, the Computer Human Interface club, that it issue pocket protectors sporting their logo; maybe they will someday.

 References consulted:;p

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Travelogue by Julie Newdoll

July 13 2006: Noyce set off by delivery truck from the art studio of Jim Pallas in Michigan to Dan Specht's pig farm in Iowa. Dan will help him begin his travels next week (July 23rd). Pallas took these photos near his studio before shipping him off to Iowa. Dan is an Organic pig farmer, and was the nicest one we spoke to.

July 28 2006: Noyce has not been heard from in a while. We believe he is having technical problems with his phone or his battery. However, Dan can not be contacted. We hear Noyce is in Nebraska at a prairie conference with Dan, having a great time. We hope to hear from him before he sets Noyce free for his journey to California. If not, Noyce may be going the traditional, non-GPS hitchhiking route. We hope to get pictures, in any case, of his journey, so keep checking. We found out that spam text can turn the light on in the phones, thus draining their battery. Perhaps Noyce was sabatoged by Viagra text spam. We are correcting this problem for the other hitchhikers.

August 6: Dan sends photos! Back from his prairie conference, and after mowing hay, he finally has time to unscrew Noyce's phone and take a look. Sure enough, his battery is flat. Julie orders another one sent to his farm. Dan has never had a cell phone, so getting it running may be tricky. We think it works, but there is no coverage in his area. In the mean time, we have some nice photos from him. At last, a picture of Robert Noyce next to some pigs in Iowa. This really made the whole project worth it, for Julie, anyway. What photos!
Here we see Dan. He is such a happy person! Julie wants to visit his farm someday. These photos were taken by Deb Tidwell, the wife of his tech-savey friend, Jeff Klinge. They are also organic farmers.
A shot of Jeff, Noyce and Dan at Pikes Peak nearby. What a view!
More shots of Pikes Peak at the Mississippi River where the Mississippi and the Wisconsin rivers converge.

Here he is at the River View Restaurant in McGregor, Iowa, with owners Brenda and Rick. We hear Noyce had the pork chops, with black rasberry pie and ice cream, and local dark beer on tap.
August 10: Dan takes Noyce to the big city today, Ames, Iowa. We still aren't getting a signal, so we suspect his phone has come up with the same bug we have been getting from these Boost Mobile Phones, a fake ad that pops up and does not go away until you click something. Unfortunately, while Dan is talking to us on the phone from Ames, someone comes by and wants to take him to the amusement park, and can not wait. Dan lets him go. At least he will have a good time and hopefully take some pictures. If someone calls in before his battery wares out, perhaps we can fix it before the end of ZeroOne. However, with the ad on, the light will be on and the battery will drain very quickly. Oh, well, you get what you pay for. If you would like to see nice hitchhiker trails for three or four weeks on the next project, send us a donation or buy a hitchhiker ( write to exhibits _at_ or call Julie at 650 591 7999).
August 23: We get an email from Amy Miller in West Des Moines, Iowa. She has had Robert Noyce this whole week! She says, "Here is an update from Noyce.  He is still in Iowa, life moves at a much slower pace here than it does in the Silicon Valley . . .   From the Prairie Conference in Ames Iowa, he caught a ride with Mike Natvig, a friend of Dan’s who also raises organic hogs, 50 miles south to Des Moines.  Noyce was unable to make to the Iowa State Fair as planned because he didn’t fit in the car!  On 8/12, also because he couldn’t fit in the car, he missed another great photo op, a political fundraiser for Denise O’Brien, an organic farmer running for Iowa Secretary of State, with John Edwards headlining.  Poor Noyce!  He has been a lovely houseguest here in West Des Moines for over a week though, and finally we were able get him a ride out of town. We only had an hour for our roadtrip with Noyce today, so we sped west on I80 and made it about 40 miles out of the city before we needed to turn around.  After snapping a couple quick pictures, we left him in a “Park and Ride” commuter lot just north of I80 Exit 100.  Hopefully someone will take him for a ride along the scenic “White Pole Road”, you can see the sign in the background, I think Noyce would enjoy the scenery in western Iowa".

Noyce with Amy’s kids Jake (12) and Thea (1) in suburban DM

Noyce with Amy and baby Thea at the I80 exit 100 Park and Ride lot

Noyce with Amy’s friend Heather Frank, holding Thea.

Bye, Bob, good luck in your travels, it was fun getting to know you!"

Well, all I can say is, Iowa can be flat! What a contrast to where Dan lives. I was so happy to see Noyce in an email. Then I was worried, again, knowing he still can not give us a signal. I am counting on the friendly nature of the people of Iowa to come through.

 August 23 4:30: Don't rush out to the highway! Noyce has been picked up! A person from Stuart has him and is going to let him stay long enough to recharge. He will then be back on the road, in working condition. Yeah! I know my uncle Ed will be happy, too. He sold Intel, which Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore founded, their first life insurance policy when they were a small company of about ten people. He can't wait for Bob to show up!

September 14: Tiffany of Stuart, Iowa was kind enough to help us recharge Robert. She sent along these photos and story of his time there.

"Well, We finally got Robert on his way.  His time with us was brief but we did a lot of things.  When we first picked him up we took him to the Rusty Duck in Dexter, one of our favorite places to eat. 

"After that we decided to go to Lake Sanroy in Stuart and do a little fishing. 
"Robert just hung out on the dock and we didn't have any luck. 

Actually, Tiffany, Robert was very lucky! If you look closely at this picture, you will see that our electronic friend was quite close to water. I am glad a stiff breeze did not blow by!

"Then after contacting you we set him up on our front porch to "recharge".  It took a little time to get everything charged but we finally did it.  After getting Robert put back together I decided to take him to a few more stops before saying good-bye.  On our way to Adair we stopped in Menlo and posed with the "gas station attendant" and then took a turn to Slate Rock.  I decided to drop Robert off at the Budget Inn in Adair and I hope that he can find a ride.  I have attached all of the pictures and hope that you enjoy them.  I hope that everything works out and that Robert finds his way back soon.
Hmmm, clouds. You know, I really wish Jim, the sculptor, had had time to waterproof his compartments. Of course, we had no way of knowing how long our project would take or what the weather would be like along the way. If you pick him up, perhaps you could give him an old rain coat for the rest of his trip - a transparent one so that people can read the back? Please take more photos like these classic American Icon photos along the way. Robert is teaching me much more than the history of Silicon Valley. The longer you look, the more you see.
September 23: Julie calls the Inn at Adair to see if Bob checked in or has been seen about. They have never heard of him, and have not seen him around. At least we know he is not stranded there - but where is he?



Copyright © 2006 Julie Newdoll, Jim Pallas, Mike Mosher, Mario Wolczko