Lecuyer CBI Senior Research Fellow
Charles Babbage Institute

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Lécuyer Named CBI Senior Research


We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Christophe Lécuyer as senior research fellow at the Charles Babbage Institute.  Christophe needs little introduction to anyone who has been following the history of computing.  He is author of the prize-winning Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970 (MIT Press 2006), a deeply researched and carefully constructed examination of California’s world-famous industrial district.  His book demonstrates the deep historical roots of this hot spot in innovation, beginning with the San Francisco region’s prominent radio industry and the electronic component manufacturers that sprang up around it.  Making Silicon Valley won the inaugural prize awarded by SHOT’s SIGCIS, named to honor the Computer History Museum.  As the prize citation noted, “by focusing on the diverse networks of innovative firms—including Eitel-McCullough, Litton, Varian, Fairchild, Intersil, National, Intel and others—Lécuyer provides a compelling historical account . . . . Making Silicon Valley will be required reading for scholars in computing history as well as anyone seeking to understand the peculiar chemistry and culture of innovative regions.” <http://www.sigcis.org/node/89>

Christophe’s publications further develop his interest in high technology innovation.  With David Brock, he published Makers of the Microchip: A Documentary History of Fairchild Semiconductor (MIT Press 2010).  It gives a unique insider’s view into the company during some of its most innovative years.  “With an astute selection of the key documents, together with technically and historically informed commentary, this book documents the critical first four years (1957-61) of Fairchild Semiconductor, as the company’s young engineers and scientists moved from research results to reliable practice in making silicon semiconductors” noted Bill Aspray, former CBI associate director.  Makers of the Microchip just won the 2013 SHOT Ferguson Prize for “outstanding and original reference work that will support future scholarship in the history of technology.” 

A spin-off of sorts was an article on “The Materiality of Microelectronics,” appearing in the journal History and Technology (2006) as well as the special issue of that journal on “High Tech Manufacturing” (2010) assembled also by Lécuyer and Brock.  That special issue featured an article by CBI’s associate director Jeffrey Yost on “Manufacturing Mainframes: Component Fabrication and Component Procurement at IBM and Sperry Univac, 1960–1975.”

It is late-breaking news that Christophe was recently named Professor of the History of Science and Technology at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie. Our congratulations to Christophe for his new faculty post and for winning this prestigious book award.  We look forward to collaborations across the Atlantic!  For a more complete list of Christophe’s publications, please see his CBI page at <http://www.cbi.umn.edu/about/lecuyer.html>.

Thomas J. Misa

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