was a gifted female scientist and engineer who developed many processes
and pieces of equipment under secret military contract while at Baldwin
in the fifties. She went on to become a Silicon Valley pioneer
including co-founding Siliconix as its first Director of Research.
She designed and built the very first epitaxial reactor and quite possibly the first integrated circuit. (Texas Instruments made their very first 'production' chip into a piece of jewelry (a pin) and presented it to Frances as a token of their appreciation for her 'contributions'. Frances wore that pin to work every day thereafter.)
Her papers reveal that during the fifties, one of her projects
included (as a stated purpose) the 'minitiarization of circuitry'. A
number of her patents reveal that she was heavily involved in
semiconductor materials fabrication and research.
Yet, her security clearance would not have permitted her to make public all of her work or her inventions/discoveries.
(The electronics industry is primarily the result of military sponsored
research, development and lucrative contracts for selected
manufacturers. (What was developed and who produced what was developed
has never been constrained by 'free market' principles.))
Hugle died in May of 1968 only a couple of months before Intel was formed. Following her death, her work was plundered and no company
ever paid any royalties on any of her patents (or the use of her other
intellectual properties) including her Tab invention which alone generates more than a billion dollars each year in revenue.
a large number of her personal papers was recovered from a burn pile
(literally!). There are boxes filled with Frances' now moldy, somewhat
damp and dirty papers. These papers provide supporting documentation that
some of the (his)stories of Silicon Valley may be just that; stories
created to bolster a male centric view of technical development and achievement.
these papers represent is priceless. But, if something is not done to
preserve this treasure, a piece of history will
be lost forever. With your help, we will get these historical pages
moved to a larger space so they can be separated, individually dried and protected from further and rapid decomposition,
dusted, electronically archived and published.
I can't say for
sure that Frances invented the IC, but I can say that there are some
remarkable pieces of evidence to indicate that this may be so. And once
this project completes, we should know more about how these dots
(evidence) connect and what they can reveal.
Finally, I received an email from a former Silicon Valley engineer and son of probably the most famous Silicon Valley journalist during the sixties and seventies in the fall of 2009. This is what it said:
"I'll cut right to the chase. I'm writing about your mother Frances. I've long had "suspicions" about the circumstances surrounding her death. In searching for a way to contact you I found several things on the internet that would indicate you have similar suspicions. I would like to get together with you and "compare notes" if you think that might be possible. I think we both might hold pieces to a puzzle that hasn't yet been put together."
Something is afoot and with your help, I hope to flush out as much of the actual story as possible.