by Tim Jackson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 13, 1997
A lively, accessible, and informative overview of Intel Corp., the Silicon Valley phenomenon that bestrides the widening world of semiconductor devices like a colossus. With but minimal cooperation from the company, Financial Times columnist Jackson (The Next Battleground, 1992) was obliged to rely on interviews, court papers, and on-the-record material to piece together its story. He nonetheless makes a fine job of reconstructing the high-tech enterprise's history, from its 1968 founding by Robert Noyce (co-creator of the integrated circuit) and Gordon Moore through the present day, when Pentium series chips dominate the market for PC microprocessors. Along the way, the author details how Intel achieved and sustained a leadership position by means of technical innovation, painstaking attention to fabrication techniques (which now permit millions of active transistor elements to be deposited on substrates measured in microns), the capacity to commit billions of dollars to capital investment during good times and bad, and a willingness to play rough with key employees who defect, as well as potentially troublesome rivals. Under the focused direction of CEO Andrew Grove (a refugee from Communist Hungary whose managerial style is reflected in the title of his 1996 book, Only the Paranoid Survive), Jackson shows, the transnational company does not shy from using litigation to gain or retain a competitive edge. Nor, he notes, does Intel like to admit error, as attested to by its attempt to stonewall the 1994 disclosure that the first Pentium chips might make long-division mistakes once in every nine billion calculations. Even so, the secretive and authoritarian outfit continues to be immensely profitable. A first-rate anecdotal briefing on a consequential supplier of small wonders that are at the heart of a latter-day industrial revolution.
Pub Date: Oct. 13, 1997
Page Count: 416
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997
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