Jay Last

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Jay T. Last
Born (1929-10-18) October 18, 1929 (age 85)
Butler, Pennsylvania
Nationality USA
Alma mater University of Rochester (B.S., Optics, 1951)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D., Physics, 1956)
Occupation physicist
Known for semiconductor pioneer

Jay T. Last (born October 18, 1929)[1] is a physicist, silicon pioneer, and member of the so-called "traitorous eight" that founded Silicon Valley.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Last was born in Butler, Pennsylvania.[3] He graduated from Butler Senior High School in 1947 and then earned his bachelor's degree in Optics from the University of Rochester in 1951 and Ph.D. in physics from MIT in 1956.[1][3][4][5]


Last worked at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory division of Beckman Instruments from 1956 to 1957.[1] He left the company along with the rest of what Shockley termed the "Traitorous Eight" to form Fairchild Semiconductor, where he worked as Head of Integrated Circuit Development and was instrumental in the creation of the first silicon circuit chips. He then co-founded Amelco Corporation in 1961 [6] with "traitorous eight" alumni Jean Hoerni and Sheldon Roberts, and served as Director of Research and Development.[1] In 1966, Amelco was acquired by Teledyne Technologies, where Last was Vice President of Research and Development for eight years.[1][6][7] Last has authored or co-authored a number of art books.[8] In 1989, he founded The Archaeological Conservancy,[9] which has preserved and protected over 150 archeological sites in 28 U.S. states. From 1982 to 2010, he was president of California-based Hillcrest Press, which publishes fine art books on the history of American painting.[7]

Later life[edit]

In May, 2011, at age 81, Last and others from the "traitorous eight" received the “Legends of California Award” from the California Historical Society.[10] Prior to the award ceremony, Last said he was not scared about his risky departure from Shockley, explaining, "When you are in your late 20s you don’t know enough to be scared, we just did it. We just knew what we had to do and we did it."[11]

Last appeared on the PBS documentary series American Experience in the episode titled "Silicon Valley", which debuted on February 6, 2013.[12][13][14] The show focused on the eight pioneering innovators, including Last, who defected from Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory to start Fairchild Semiconductor, and turned Santa Clara County, California, into the center of technological ingenuity.[12][13][14] In the program, Last reflected on how, at age 16, between his junior and senior years of high school, he hitchhiked to California and spent the summer picking apricots in Santa Clara Valley.[15] Last also talked about the day that William Shockley showed up in Last's laboratory at MIT and offered him a job at his company.[15] Regarding Shockley's arrival, Last said, "I thought, my God, I've never met anybody this brilliant. I changed my whole career plans and said I want to go to California and work with this man."[15]


  1. ^ a b c d e Brock, David C. (June 21, 2004). "Interview with Jay T. Last". Center for Oral History, Chemical Heritage Foundation. 
  2. ^ Lojek, Bo (April 30, 2007). History of semiconductor engineering. Springer. pp. 138–. ISBN 978-3-540-34257-1. Retrieved March 6, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Lécuyer, Christophe (2010). Makers of the Microchip: A Documentary History of Fairchild Semiconductor. MIT Press. p. 51. ISBN 0262014246. 
  4. ^ "Commencement 2011: Awards and Honorary Degrees". Jay T. Last. University of Rochester. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ London, Jay (February 5, 2013). "The Origins of Silicon Valley, Through the Eyes of MIT Alumni". Slice of MIT. 
  6. ^ a b Lojek, p. 179
  7. ^ a b "Profile". Jay T. Last. Forbes. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  8. ^ ISBNdb.com page. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  9. ^ "Protecting prehistoric Pahrump". Pahrump Valley Times. June 27, 2003. Retrieved March 6, 2011. 
  10. ^ “Legends of California", California Historical Society 2011 announcement. Retrieved May 18, 2011.
  11. ^ Poletti, Therese, "‘Traitorous Eight’ feted as California icons", MarketWatch Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  12. ^ a b Guglielmo, Connie (February 4, 2013). "The Men Who Helped Invent 'Silicon' Valley". Forbes. 
  13. ^ a b Streitfeld, David (February 5, 2013). "Silicon Valley’s Favorite Stories". New York Times. 
  14. ^ a b Mitroff, Sarah (February 5, 2013). "If You Want the Real Silicon Valley, Skip Bravo and Tune In to PBS". Wired. 
  15. ^ a b c MacLowry, Randall (February 5, 2013). "American Experience: Silicon Valley". PBS. 

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