he Asian Americans role in building Silicon Valley is best embodied by Albert C. Y. Yu. How key was he? Extraterrestrials looking to abduct one human to replicate earth's chipmaking technologies would be smart to take him. Yu retired in September 2002 as Intel's chief technology boss for all microprocessor R&D after nearly 30 years, much of it as the brain behind its rise to global chipmaking dominance. Yu strategized the creation of six generation of microprocessors, from the 386 all the way to the latest Pentium 4 which has become the world's highest volume chip. He also led the teams that developed the ItaniumT processor family for the business server market.
Yu's status as a Silicon Valley legend keeps his shiny dome ("I'm bald and unique," he has boasted as his primary distinctions.) very much in the spotlight. He sits on prestigious boards at Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard as well as the Tech Museum in San Jose. In addition to nearly three dozen technical works, he authored a Chinese-language best-seller entitled Insider's View of Intel and Creating the Digital Future (The Free Press, 1998).
Yu was born in 1941 in Shanghai, China. He came to study electrical engineering at Cal Tech. His first paying job was soldering cables for high-energy physics experiments during his sophomore year. He went on to receive a masters and PhD from Stanford before meeting his fate at Fairchild Semiconductor, the company founded in part by Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce who left in July of 1968 to found Intel, then recruited Yu to become the company's technical mastermind.