Julius Blank

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Julius Blank
Born (1925-06-02)June 2, 1925
Manhattan, New York
Died September 17, 2011(2011-09-17) (aged 86)
Los Altos Hills, California
Nationality American
Fields Physics
Alma mater City College of New York (B.S, Mechanical Engineering)
Known for Semiconductor pioneer

Julius Blank (June 2, 1925 – September 17, 2011) was a semiconductor pioneer and a member of the so-called "traitorous eight" associated with Nobel-winning physicist William Shockley.

Early life[edit]

Blank was born and raised in Manhattan's Lower East Side, the youngest of three children of Jewish immigrants Charles and Gussie Blank. His father made musical-instrument cases and luggage, and also worked as a Russian translator.[1] He attended Erasmus Hall High School and also served in the Army in World War II.[1] He earned a Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the City College of New York.

Career[edit]

He worked at the seminal Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory division of Beckman Instruments, until he and the other disgruntled members of what the controversial Dr. Shockley labeled the "traitorous eight" left to form the influential Fairchild Semiconductor corporation. There, Blank was part of the team that established a "model for entrepreneurs for the rest of [the 20th] century": stock options, no job titles and open working relationships.[2] At Fairchild, Blank set up the "initial machine shop, assembly and the subsequent manufacturing facility in Hong Kong as incoming orders exploded." He left in 1969 to become a consultant.[3]

In 1978, Blank co-founded Xicor, where he was a member of its Board of Directors. In 2004, Xicor was acquired by Intersil Corp.[4] for approximately US$529 million.[5]

In May, 2011, the California Historical Society in San Francisco gave the “Legends of California Award” to Blank, 85, and others of the eight.[6] Looking back in advance of the award ceremony, Blank said difficulties had accelerated when Shockley won the Nobel Prize: "'He would travel a lot and every time he came back, he would change direction,' Blank said. In light of these changing whims, their projects never were completed and many at Shockley grew frustrated." Blank spoke of "those years with 'a kind of electricity in the air, [where] everything was happening fast and all at once.'" In 2011, he lived in a retirement center across the street from the old Fairchild headquarters at 844 Charleston Rd. in Palo Alto, where he used to have his office and now a California Historical Landmark.[3]

Death[edit]

Blank died on September 17, 2011 in Los Altos Hills, California.[1]

He was survived by two sons, Jeffrey and David, and two grandsons. His wife, Ethel, an art curator, died in Los Altos Hills, California in 2008 after nearly 60 years of marriage.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Vitello, Paul (September 22, 2011). "Julius Blank, Who Built First Chip Maker, Dies at 86". New York Times. Retrieved 23 September 2011. Julius Blank, a mechanical engineer who helped start a computer chip company in the 1950s that became a prototype for high-tech start-ups and a training ground for a generation of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, died on Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif.. He was 86. ... 
  2. ^ Leslie Goff (May 19, 1999). "1958: The birth of integrated circuits". Computerworld Flashback 1958 (CNN). Archived from the original on 2007-02-07. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  3. ^ a b Poletti, Therese, "‘Traitorous Eight’ feted as California icons", MarketWatch, May 10, 2011 11:47 a.m. EDT. Retrieved 2011-05-10.
  4. ^ Harrison, Linden T., Current sources & voltage references, p. 424, via GoogleBooks. Retrieved 2011-05-10.
  5. ^ Intersil press release, company website, Milpitas, Calif., March 14, 2004. Retrieved 2011-05-10.
  6. ^ “Legends of California", California Historical Society 2011 announcement. Retrieved 2011-05-18.
  7. ^ "Ethel Blank, 79: Organized art exhibitions at Los Altos Hills Town Hall". Los Altos Town Crier. 16 January 2008. Retrieved 24 September 2011. 

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