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Fable

Fable: The Bold Engineer

There was once an Intel engineer who quit the company to form a start-up based on a new kind of memory chip. Intel’s writ was delivered to his home in the middle of the night. Undaunted, the KP-backed company raised $50 million (plus another $18 million in an IPO). The engineer built a fab with a ski-lift type roof based ...

Fable: The Sapper

There was once a British Sapper who lit out to California to work for Fairchild and then became the first CEO of a start-up company working on an innovative chip idea which became a new semiconductor product category. He loved old cars and attended motoring events around the world where he could pick up old car parts and take them ...

Fable: The CEO Who Started Late

Silicon Valley start-ups are a young man’s game (unless you’re a VC) but one famous company founder started his first company at the ripe old age of 61. The company was based on an entirely new semiconductor product category which had been invented by a Zilog engineer while moonlighting at LSI Logic. He grew the company to over $1 billion ...

Fable: The Company Which Took Too Long

24 years ago a company set up to make a roll-up OLED screen. Two private equity firms, Hilman and Kelso, in vested $133 million. Intel and others put in VC money. Philips and Uniax bought licences. Twelve years after founding, in 2004, it had an IPO on the NASDAQ which valued the company at $230 million. But, three years later, ...

Fable: Monopolies

Today we are amazed that Apple takes 92% of the mobile phone industry’s profits but this scale of domination of an industry is not unprecedented. Back in the 1920s there was an industry, the lighting industry, which employed half a million people in the USA. The component on which this industry was built was the light bulb. In 1927, 95% ...

Fable: Failing Memory

The dream of the universal memory – a memory that is dense, fast to read, fast to write, non-volatile, low power, enduring and fits all memory applications – has eluded the industry for 50 years. In the late 60s such a memory was developed by Bell Labs. It was as dense as hard disc and a fast as core memory. ...

Fable: The Entrepreneur Who Saw The Light

There was once an entrepreneur who named his company after a famous explorer. The explorer, said the entrepreneur, had thrown light on the Dark Continent and the entrepreneur’s business was involved in making lights for automobiles so he was throwing light on dark highways. After four years researching LEDs the company had a great success in developing LEDs using aluminum ...

Fable: Bold Boys

Once upon a time there were two rich guys who were brothers-in-law who decided to start a business. Trouble was they didn’t know what to make. They tried, and failed, to make a rice-cooker and a self-heating cushion but had some limited success with a megaphone. Still casting around for a volume product they decided to produce transistors. They turned ...

Fable: The Engineer Who Carried On Digging

There was once a brilliant engineer who invented the technology for, and founded, a programmable logic company installing himself as CEO. Mentor licensed one of the engineer’s patents for $1.8 million and, when the patent was challenged by one of Mentor’s competitors, the engineer submitted a log book which showed signs of tampering. Another log book turned up late in the ...

Fable: The Guy Who Stayed On The Edge

There was once an engineer from Vicenza who went to the USA and invented a process for making silicon chips. He put the first microprocessor into silicon. He founded a microprocessor company which had huge market acceptance but made little money. He then founded a company which developed neural networks to produce the first single-chip OCR and sold a touch-pad ...