Joining Fairchild In The 60s

John East, for 22 years CEO of Actel, recalls going for his first job after graduation – at Fairchild Semiconductor.

“In May of 1968 I interviewed with Gene Flath (Operations), Tom Peardon (Production Control) and Jerry Briggs (HR),” remembers East, “I went to lunch, as I recall, with Briggs and Flath. They gave me a written offer. I was four months away from finishing my masters. They said to call a couple of days before I was ready to come and we would work out the details. I would be making the big bucks! $915/month.”

“I called Gene Flath immediately after taking my last final exam. A secretary answered the phone.

‘Gene who? I’ve never heard of Gene Flath,’ said the secretary, ‘there is no Gene Flath at Fairchild and has never been one as long as I’ve been here.’

‘How long have you been there?’

‘Three weeks.’

“I hung up and called Jerry Briggs.”

‘Jerry who? I’ve never heard of Jerry Briggs. There is no Jerry Briggs at Fairchild and there never has been one in all the time I’ve worked here.’

‘How long have you been there?’

‘I started last Tuesday.’

“But they all agreed on one thing, says East, ‘We’ve never heard of you. Are you sure you have the right company? There’s no job for you here.’

“Luckily I had the offer letter,” recalls East, “they honoured their commitment and gave me a job as a supervisor in a test area they called “wafer sort” and “class” (The same functions are called probe and final test nowadays.).”

“My first boss, Les Faerber picked me up in the lobby and took me to the test area. Then he left to go to a meeting. I had no idea what all those people were doing in that test area. It was a mystery to me!”


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