Home » This Pioneering Tech Firm Seemed To Have A Thing For VWs: Cold Start

This Pioneering Tech Firm Seemed To Have A Thing For VWs: Cold Start

Cs Fairchildvws
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If you’re not familiar with the company Fairchild, you should be. We all should, really. They were an early semiconductor company, one formed by people who worked under transistor inventor William Shockley, but who got sick of his lousy management, and went off to form their own company in 1957. One of those people was Gordon Moore, of Moore’s law fame! And  then later, a group of engineers left Fairchild to found Intel! So, they’re a big deal.

That shot up there must be from the late-ish 1960s or so, and it shows six parking spots in front of Fairchild Semiconductor, and, incredibly, four of them are filled with Volkswagens. VWs were certainly common, but even this is an unusually high density, and quite varied, too, showcasing a lot of VW’s lineup. From left to right, the cars parked here are a 1966-ish Chrysler New Yorker, a ’63-’65 VW Beetle, a ’68-’70 VW Type 2 bus, another Beetle, too obscured by the next car, a 1966 Oldsmobile Delta 98, to tell the exact year, and then capped off with a ’66-’68 VW Type 3 Fastback. That’s a lot of Volkswagens!

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

I suspect that back in their day, VW may have had a popularity among tech folks not unlike what Tesla enjoys today, appealing to iconoclastic people or drivers interested in something a bit more unusual. Hell, don’t forget that Steve Jobs sold his old VW Microbus to get the money to found Apple. It somehow fits.

Fairchild is today perhaps best remembered for making the first home video game console that used cartridges to store software; they really were the first to market with the very idea of cartridges, period. I have one of these machines, known as the Fairchild Channel F:

Cs Fairchild Console

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And right there, that’s the very first video game cartridge that was sold, ever. Well, not that specific one, but that one there is part of the first class of these carts. Here, if you like you can watch a video about Fairchild and the Channel F:

That video also has a clip from an old film where an illusion happens, making a talking head look like he has cat ears:

Cs Fairchild Earsguy

It’s because of a plaque on the wall behind him, at just the right spot. Was this on purpose? It almost seems like it has to be, right?

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Scott
Scott
10 months ago

I think the cat ears thing looks better on Japanese ladies of a certain age, but I’m just a straight old white guy, so what do I know?

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
1 year ago

Fairchild had all kinds of odd sub businesses. Fairchild Semiconductor was started by the “traitorous eight” some of whom subsequently founded Intel. One of Fairchild’s more notorious ventures was Armalite, founded in part to utilize spare aluminum forging capacity. That’s why the AR-10 and AR-15 used forged aluminum receivers. Oddly, after selling the AR-15 to Colt, Stoner’s follow up the AR-18 used a conventional stamped steel receiver.

rctothefuture
rctothefuture
1 year ago

IT people and VW aircooled people are pretty much the same bubble on a Venn Diagram.

My grandfather-in-law had a VW Beetle that he drove to work at IBM back in the day. The family hauler for all 8 kids was a VW Bus that towed a UHaul trailer on cross country trips. Once the flock had left, he bought a Passat and said he didn’t like it as much as his Beetle. He ended up buying a Karmann-Ghia for weekend cruising.

I should also mention he was 6’9″ and not exactly a bean pole either. There’s just something about the simplicity and fun of a VW aircooled engine that IT people seem to flock too. Even myself has wanted one for awhile, with the understanding that it will need constant maintenance and I relish that fact.

Last edited 1 year ago by rctothefuture
Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago

I had a relative that worked at Fairchild. Not sure what he drove at the time, but later he had a Karmann Ghia and then an Audi100LS.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 year ago

Fairchild was the poster child for innovating things and trying to commercialize them just before the market was ready. Then the second-mover came along with a slightly better offering with better targeted marketing and won the day.

Swedish Jeep
Swedish Jeep
1 year ago

Keep in mind, that this was the SF Bay area, less than 50 miles from where the hippie movement started and in the late 60’s. There’s a reason Hippies and VWs are associated, also California, Surfers- counterculture. When looking at Iconic Ca cars there’s always a Beetle and a VW wagon painted with flowers and a surf rack on the top…

As a Silicon Valley native, every one of us has at least a parent or grandparent who worked at Fairchild. Nearly every former Sr. exec at Xerox (PARC), HP, National Semi, Intel, AMD……., anything Silicon or EDA related. Fairchild was the trunk of the family tree for all of high tech….

Cam.man67
Cam.man67
1 year ago

My best friend’s dad worked at Fairchild when we were kids. He wasn’t a VW guy but I think while he worked there he did have some sort of Beetle for a few years.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
1 year ago

Fairchild failed due to not paying attention to the regulations that affected their product. If they had recognized the need for shielding at the beginning of design, they would have been able to both accurately predict pricing and get to market in time for the holidays.
Pay attention to regulatory agencies for your product folks!
My current job puts me smack dab in the middle of such things for electronic vertical takeoff and landing aicraft. Extermely important stuff.You can’t fly without the paper (work)!

Gubbin
Gubbin
1 year ago
Reply to  Knowonelse

I imagine EMC must be like network security – “Please, please no, don’t do that.” “I’m going to need a week to figure out whether I can say ‘no’ or ‘maybe’.” “You did what? It’s going to production when?”

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago
Reply to  Knowonelse

Funny, I guess they didn’t have a Fairchild Cage.

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
1 year ago

I know an older retired guy who started at Fairchild and wound up later at national semiconductor. They worked on a lot of pioneering technologies. One of the weirder ones that never really took off and was heavily tied to the automotive industry was AM stereo. Basically a chip that was designed to create synthetic stereo from an AM signal. The thought was that FM stereo was killing AM in the early 80’s and this could be a way for AM to compete. It didn’t work.

Tim R
Tim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

I had a car in the 90s with AM stereo, maybe my Honda? I don’t think I ever found a station that was broadcasting in stereo

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago

Nothing like being sold a video game by some stiff in a suit.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
1 year ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

If it makes you feel any better, the TV commercial spokesman for the Channel F series II was none other than Uncle Miltie himself, Milton Berle!

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago

I don’t see a Kharmann Ghia, so obviously no one was getting laid.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

That might be the first orgy bus that required a tie rack.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

The tie goes on the door.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
1 year ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Although decades later the vibe changed, at the time pocket protectors and dorky glasses were a form of birth control. I myself didn’t wear glasses, but was successful in fending off reproductive success, by the simple fact of possessing a slide rule.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
1 year ago

I quite literally watched this Gaming Historian video last night right before I went to bed, only to find an article about it on the Autopian this morning.

Is the Autopian stalking me? Are you conducting exceedingly thorough market research on your members? Was this part of the T&C when I signed up? I’m not mad, I just want to know if/when I should wear pants around my house.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
1 year ago

Always – the market research team have been traumatized enough already.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

EVERYBODY had a thing for Volkswagens back then, they were like every 5th car in any random parking lot. Even in affluent suburbs on the East Coast, they stayed thick on the ground into the late 1980s/early ’90s until road salt killed them. People kept them as second cars, if for nothing else.

MGBs made it into the early 2000s as common cars in those areas, mainly because they tended to be put away in winter. I wonder what the ownership overlap was? Were there many households in Lower Merion with an Audi 5000, a Jeep Grand Wagoneer, an MGB, and a VW Beetle all sharing garage space?

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Yup. My dad owned one, as did a lot of people for one reason: gas mileage. If you commuted at all, it was way better than most things from America.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
1 year ago

In Mexico VW was the brand to go by default. What helped is that they have a dealership on every small town, their cars were famous based on their reliability and easy to repair too. Every single driveway had a VW as a family car and a Chevy/Ford truck for people that really needed them. Then Nissan started to take over with cheaper maintenance and price in general. Now Chinese brands are starting to take over like Nissan did before.

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
1 year ago

Pedantry alert: That’s a plain 98. Delta preceded 88.

NewBalanceExtraWide
NewBalanceExtraWide
1 year ago

You see cat ears, I see horns… Six of one, and all that.

Jim Zavist
Jim Zavist
1 year ago

That’s a ’68 or later bus . . .

Jim Zavist
Jim Zavist
1 year ago

It’s a ’68-’70, Deluxe model (chrome trim strip). ’71s received disc brakes and different wheels, hubcaps, and two-tone paint. ’72s up received different bumpers.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Zavist

And right here is the level of automotive obsession that I joined The Autopian for…

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 year ago
Reply to  OrigamiSensei

Exactly!

Sivad Nayrb
Sivad Nayrb
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Zavist

’68-’69 Bus… Round red reflectors aft of rear fenders. Rectangular red reflectors in same spot on 1970 T2.

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