Victor Grinich, one of the founders of Fairchild Semiconductor, the Silicon Valley company that helped start the computer revolution, died Sunday in Mountain View, Calif. He was 75 and the cause of death was prostate cancer.
An electrical engineer by training, Grinich went to work for Shockley Semiconductor in 1956 but found it difficult to work for William Shockley, a Nobel Prize winner for his work as the co-inventor of the transistor. A year later, he and seven colleagues founded Fairchild. Shockley called his defecting employees the “traitorous eight.”
Other members of the group were Jean Hoenri, Eugene Kleiner, Jay Last, Gordon Moore, Sheldon Roberts, Sherman Fairchild and Robert Noyce. Noyce, who died in 1990, founded Intel. Hoenri died in 1997.
Grinich began at Fairchild as head of engineering and applications and then was second in command of the research and development department, which was headed by Moore.
Fairchild produced the first commercially viable integrated circuit, a forerunner of the modern computer chip.
Fairchild has grown into a $786 billion company with more than 8,000 employees. The company’s chips power electronic devices used in cars, computers and telecommunications equipment.
Born Victor Grgurinovich in Aberdeen, Wash., to Croatian immigrant parents, Grinich served in the Navy during World War II. He changed his name after the war, to avoid the difficult spelling and went off to college, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Washington and a doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford.
After leaving Fairchild in the late 1960s, Grinich taught at UC Berkeley and Stanford. He was coauthor of the textbook, “Introduction to Integrated Circuits.” He also headed some smaller Silicon Valley firms.
He is survived by his wife, Helen Hood Grinich; two sons, a daughter and three grandchildren.