Ted Jenkins (BS '65, MS '66), Silicon Valley Pioneer and Philanthropist
The microchip revolution of the 1960s remade modern society. It influences nearly every aspect of our increasingly technological lives, and it is a story that has deep Caltech roots. Ted Jenkins was present at the creation. During a visit to campus, Gordon Moore (PhD '54) met with Professor Carver Mead (PhD '60), who in turn introduced Moore to his students. Jenkins was among the most promising, and soon Moore recruited Jenkins to join Fairchild Semiconductor. Two years later, Jenkins was among the first employees at the launch of Intel, Gordon Moore's startup company, and he immediately demonstrated his technical and leadership capabilities, which were central to the company's dramatic growth and global impact. From his innovations in silicon wafer manufacturing to his political acumen directing the company's government affairs, Jenkins enjoyed what he calls a "great ride" during his career at Intel.
In the discussions below, Jenkins provides an absorbing behind-the-scenes look at the rise of Intel, its strong intellectual connections with Caltech, and an institutional culture that was as much concerned with learning as it was with profits. Jenkins describes the value that his Caltech education brought to every aspect of his career, and he explains all the ways he has been honored and happy to be an active alumnus, supporter, and Trustee of Caltech.
In addition to serving as Trustee, Jenkins has served as president of the Caltech Alumni Association and the Caltech Associates. Altogether, his record of service gives Jenkins a unique viewpoint on the inspiration that alumni feel to remain connected with Caltech, and the broader network of Caltech admirers who have no formal affiliation with the Institute but who love to be connected through the Associates. Beyond these roles, Ted and his wife Ginger have provided key funding support to Caltech over the years, which includes the Jenkins Leadership Chair in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences. From Jenkins's humble perspective, all of this devotion is simply his way of giving back, when in fact the scope and depth of his service is truly unique and greatly valued across the campus community.
DAVID ZIERLER: Okay, this is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Friday, November 11, 2022. It's my great privilege to be here with Ted Jenkins. Ted, it's great to be with you. Thank you for joining me today.
TED JENKINS: Thank you for talking to me.
ZIERLER: Ted, to start, would you please tell me your current title and institutional affiliation here at Caltech?
JENKINS: My current title is, I'm a member of the Board of Trustees, and I've done that. As I said, I've got some other connections on some advisory committees. As I mentioned, I'm a past president of both the Alumni Association and the Associates. I stay active with the Associates. Theoretically, as an emeritus president, or chair, I can go to all of the board meetings. I don't, but I do go to some, and it's good to stay involved. In fact, I'll be down there for the holiday party that they'll have the day after the EE advisory committee. I'm also a member of the Board of Governors of the Athenaeum.
ZIERLER: Oh, that's great, so I'll see you there, too. That's wonderful.
JENKINS: Okay. Oh, you're going, huh?
JENKINS: Good, good.
ZIERLER: Ted, beyond Caltech, do you have any other affiliations in terms of the world of philanthropy, nonprofits? Do you sit on any other boards?
JENKINS: I do not. Caltech has been my passion, and I think from a philanthropic standpoint, I really like to focus. The combination of education and the science, research, and everything else is just motivating and extremely gratifying to stay involved with.
ZIERLER: Ted, we'll develop this in the narrative as we come to it, but was there a specific point in your career at Intel where you became inspired to really become active with Caltech affairs as an alumnus?
An Abiding Devotion to Caltech
JENKINS: Yeah. This is something that I think, really, your whole life's history affects. When I graduated and went to work—I went to Fairchild for a couple of years, and then Intel for the rest of my career—but, you feel kind of worn out when you graduate from here because it is hard work. After you get on board in industry, which is really what I wanted to do, you find out how special your preparation was, and you start getting more and more positive about it. Before children, or when they're young, you've got time to engage in some of these things, so I did. I would stay involved in the Alumni events and went to seminar day and all of that stuff, and in those days, they had the reunions linked with seminar day every five years, so that was my major involvement. But, when you have children, when they get to, let's say they're in the grammar school era, you're going to two soccer games every Saturday, and your ability to spend time on other stuff like this sort of wanes. Once they can start driving, then it encouraged me to really get back and engage more deeply with Caltech. I knew some of the people that were on the board of the Alumni Association. I spent time doing that. You kind of go up the chain and become president there—is what we did in the olden days. Then, from a philanthropic standpoint, I wanted to give back, so I joined the Associates. Back in those days, they had a lifetime membership that you could buy, which was one that would—it was money that would generate enough to pay the annual dues, so I've been a live member of that ever since—I can't remember the date, but when I could start spending those times. They have events here in the Bay Area, and I ended up getting recruited to the board, and that was really fulfilling as well.
ZIERLER: Between the Alumni Association, the Associates, and the Board of Trustees, you really have a unique vantage point of what makes Caltech so special, so I wonder if you could reflect on a broad level, what is it for you? What makes Caltech so special?
JENKINS: Well, yes. I think the issue is that we're small, and we're excellent. We get the best and the brightest, and we equip them very well with research capabilities, usually a laboratory-plus. Then they go out and make hay. That allows—probably what I would think, and I haven't checked this academically—but it really gives us the capability to get involved in interdisciplinary work, and to be very effective in interdisciplinary research and discoveries and that sort of stuff.
ZIERLER: Just a snapshot in time, what are some of the things happening at Caltech that you're really excited about?
JENKINS: Happening now, or happened in the past?
ZIERLER: No, right now, just a snapshot, circa 2022.
JENKINS: LIGO has to be a good one, and in place of really current stuff, the Seismo Lab just had their centennial, but one of the things very interesting here in the past couple of years was the repurposing of quiet fiber optics as seismometers. That's been really good. I don't think I could name them in detail, but a lot of the biological and electrical engineering sensors, new biology stuff, and the things going on in that area. I'm trying to remember his name; I'm not that close to him, but he really does some very interesting nanoscience stuff, those kinds of things. There's a professor that I support, or was my first endowment of a professorship to Kerry Vahala, who does a lot of photonics and optical oscillators and everything else like that—very accurate and that sort of thing. He's had a whole cadre of graduates that have gone out and are doing extensions of that technology as well.
ZIERLER: Ted, do you see your work through—either the Alumni Association, the Associates, and the Trustees—is it all sort of intertwined? Or are you careful to keep each of those connections in their own lanes, so to speak?
JENKINS: I think it's intertwined because it's all at the same location. There was one other thing I meant to mention, which was as an Alumni president and as an Associate president, you are an ad hoc member of the Board of Governors for the Athenaeum. When I was appointed as a Trustee in 2005, I think David Baltimore twisted my arm to stay on the Board of Governors at the Athenaeum, and I've done that ever since. I've also helped with what we call the AAPF, which is called the Athenaeum Architectural Preservation Fund. That's something where we've been trying to raise some funds for a raise of an endowment so we can have ongoing funds that will keep that as the architectural treasure and the functional treasure that it is to Caltech.
Back to my point about interdisciplinary synergy: that is one of the substrates for the professors to get together because it's very handy. The campus is small. Everybody can walk there for lunch or whatever. They actually had a "roundtable" there that they called it, where a bunch of the senior professors, some Nobel Laureates, would—I think it probably sat eight people—they would get together and not talk so much about science, but talk about things that were going on in the world and just share smart ideas. It was a little elite; [laughs] not everybody could go, but it was something that went on and on and on for quite a while. I knew some of the professors that were involved in that pretty well.
ZIERLER: Ted, as a Trustee, in the ideal sense, what is the most positive and impactful way you can leverage your experience with helping Caltech?
JENKINS: I wouldn't characterize it as leveraging, but I think the fact that I was a student here, I think that's one of the most valuable things in terms of helping with the Trustees, because I think education is a major part of what we do. The research is, also. We have a huge factor of research compared to most other schools, and that goes on. I've always said that managing the faculty is different from managing business because what we do is, as I said, get them equipped, find the best in the brightest, get them out there, and let them go make hay in their fields. So, that's one of the things, but I think just the perspective on really what's good for the students and how to be effective, both from a research and an academic standpoint, is really pretty good. In fact, one of the things, since I worked in wafer manufacturing, I ended up being involved in our facilities as we made new ones and built them. I was on the Building and Grounds Committee for quite a while and was recruited there because we didn't have a lot of Trustees that had a lot of lab and construction experience, so I ended up spending time with that, where I felt that was a contribution I made.
Then we started the student experience committee when I was on the board. The thing that was important for me in that is it was motivated by some suicides we had. I don't want to get too heavy here, but I actually have a son who has a psychiatric problem. He's actually schizophrenic-manic oriented. But what it does is, those kinds of problems come to life, or happen post-puberty and young adulthood, so they're right in there, so those can happen to our students. I was concerned about the psychiatric or physical health orientations that they had, because if you think about students coming to college, they're coming out of a pretty disciplined environment at home. Some of them have helicopter parents. Some are, trained to be to take care of themselves, but just in terms of street wisdom and potential drug exposure, potential alcohol exposure, and just coming out and being on their own all of a sudden, the care has to be taken, and they need to get going. We actually started the student experience committee during that period of time, and I think it's been a good substrate for working on some of these problems. I actually went to the freshman orientation once, just to see how they had responded to the problems that we had seen. I thought they really did a good job. The best way to detect these things is the friends of a person that's having a problem need to notice something different, and then they need to encourage that person to go get some help. If they don't have the training and they don't have—"Oh, he's just running off the rails, there's no big deal"—that needed to be brought to light so that they could really get in and help these issues. That's one that I think, if you want to talk about impact on the board, was really one of the interesting milestones that has helped a lot. I think it's important; I think it's going to be ongoing important.
ZIERLER: Ted, as an undergraduate yourself, as a Trustee right now, have you had opportunity to interact with Caltech undergraduates and get a sense of their student experience?
JENKINS: I have, but not so much. I was at Lloyd House. In those days, we called it a new student house, [laughs] because it had only been there about a year or two before I got there. They actually suspended rotation, so we were just all randomly assigned, but that worked out well. There have been times when I've gone back and been able to interface with them. There's one person who's really done a super job of this. I don't know whether it's still going on, but Tom Mannion has students to his house, and he's one of the other important channels for helping the students make the transition from disciplined environment out into the open wilderness, if you will, of humanity. He would have student dinners and, and associates—or not associates, but Trustees—could be invited to do that. We do have them on the committee, but that's a more formal engagement, and it's really hard to talk about that. For example, the IST meeting that I went to, they had a couple of students on the board, or at the reception. We got together, so I was able to talk with a bunch of those, find out what they were doing at the EE Advisory Committee. We're going to have a poster session with students, so we'll be able to go around and talk with them. They've got a poster, and they kind of just tell us what their research is about—what's going on and how it's going to make a difference, so those are important interactions that give you a chance to see those people. In fact, I've kind of, [laughs] I turned around on one of them once. This was a while ago where they really got a little too chatty and were on a course that was not going to let them finish and tell their whole story before we would have to move on to the next poster, so I told him about the elevator pitch and how to do that quickly so that you can get your whole story across. It was kind of fun. They had one after that group. That group actually got together and did some self-training on how to do that. [laughs]
ZIERLER: Ted, coming from the world of business, which obviously is very different from academia, how would you differentiate, in terms of your service as a Trustee, management versus advice?
JENKINS: That's one of the things about Caltech that's better integrated as far as I'm concerned. I took a business-econ class either my senior or my master's year from a professor named Horace Gilbert. He came to Caltech right around 1930, or 1929, or something like that. He came from Harvard, and when he said he was going to Caltech, his colleagues told him that Millikan was the Taussig of physics. Taussig was a famous [laughs] econ icon in those days. He actually really gave me the best introduction I've ever had to business. It was like a mini MBA. We talked about, "What are the resources that an enterprise needs?" Back in the day, this is men, materials, and machines, and it's management's job to integrate those in the best way. He talked about the critical path of a project and how to manage that. He talked about the learning curve and what the cost might be depending on the cumulative volume, some charts like that. It really, really gave a good job of melding the two together, but from a business standpoint, it really is about leadership.
One of the things about Intel was that we had Andy Grove as this leader. He started out as chief operations officer, and was really running research and manufacturing as we got going, but he said early on that we wanted to be a learning organization. We had this plan, or this idea, where we would send an individual out to a conference—motivation, or other things—they would come back and teach the course. I actually went out to a motivation conference, came back, and I talked Management by Objectives (MBO)to a group, which included Andy Grove, maybe a dozen people or something like that. We were really data intensive, so having those metrics came in, but we really had not been doing a much work about forecasting, for example, so we ended up embracing that. Then, all across the company, we had a mission statement, objectives, and key results. We started doing that. We did that the whole time. Once we absorbed this, I did that the whole time. One of our best training things was how to run a meeting. It was like a three fourths of a day training session, and it was basically like: organize it, figure out what kind of outcomes you need, send out your materials at least 24 hours ahead. I worked for a boss that if you didn't do that, he'd cancel your meeting. Get there on time. If everybody's five or ten minutes late, you're wasting a couple of man-hours of work. Say whether it's an information meetings, say whether it's a make-decision meeting, and just organize it in a good way to do that. We did a lot of that stuff, different subjects, and it really turned out very powerful. So, that kind of a culture, I'd say, probably makes me who I am on the on the board of Trustees from a business standpoint, but also in academia. I worked at Fairchild R&D and made some inventions, got some patents. Actually, in my last ten years at Intel, I was VP and Director of corporate licensing, which was really to set our whole patent filing strategy, recognition, and negotiating licenses. Not so much to gain money, but to get cross licenses, because we had so much revenue, we were a big target.
ZIERLER: Ted, as a Trustee, just at a very broad level, what are some of the most important metrics to consider when determining what kind of path Caltech is on? Areas of improvement, strengths to build on.
JENKINS: One of our best metrics is the number of Nobel Laureates we have. As a percentage of our faculty, I think that's probably best in the world. We'd have to verify that, but it's certainly very, very good. Doing those things is really, really exciting. I think that's one of the best things. The other thing is just the recognition that our graduates get out there for various accomplishments. A lot of them, even though they're not involved, even though they're not at Caltech anymore after they graduate, there's a fair number of Nobel Laureates there as well, so those metrics are good. Other metrics: graduation rate is. I think our graduation rated on those we admit is probably pretty good. Then, I think on our board, how we do from a philanthropic standpoint back to the school is also an important metric. One that's a little bit dicey is how many go on and get PhDs in academia versus how many go to work, because I was pretty oriented toward going to work ever since I got to Caltech, and I think that's more typical of engineers, while in the other more scientific areas, many of those do go on to get a PhD. I think those metrics are all useful in terms of really how we're doing.
ZIERLER: Ted, among the Trustees themselves, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the value of having basically two kinds of profiles: Caltech alumni who are on the board, and then people who have just done very well who are in the Los Angeles area—they don't have a connection to Caltech except that they serve on the board.
JENKINS: Having a mix of talents and perspectives is very useful. Getting inputs from successful people from other universities keeps us grounded and aware of what other universities have done.
ZIERLER: And we're back. Ted, I was asking about alumni, and then serving on the board, and then people who are in Los Angeles, but then as you correctly noted, there are people who are farther away who also serve on the board.
JENKINS: Yes. A lot is very positive about getting people to come back to campus. It does not have to happen all the time, but that allows, from a from a personal standpoint, interaction with students, the faculty, and to see their presentations, so that's easy to do. It ends up being a very good substrate to get people excited about it, because it's an attractive campus. Obviously, it's changed a lot since I was here, but just the whole social idea of getting face to face is an effective way to do that. So, that is easier for those people. A lot of these advisory committees, recruit people from around the world, but there are a lot of people that drive across town for them. One of the things that I think I've contributed in that environment is, when we start these meetings, we usually have a half an hour of greeting time where people can come and arrive at different times, because if you're driving across LA, it's very random, and then I always want to have a dinner before we kick him back out into rush hour traffic. For the same reason: to make that whole experience really nice and not motivate people to get off of it. Just having business skills, academic skills, and those other skills mixing from other places is very useful. When we're talking about dealing with problems, it makes sense to understand what other people do, what other institutions do, and how they deal with these. So, yes.
ZIERLER: Ted, I wonder if you could share your views on where you see the role of philanthropy in terms of what's possible at Caltech. In other words, Caltech, of course, has a variety of funding sources. What does philanthropy, what do benefactors allow Caltech to do that might not otherwise be possible?
JENKINS: Some of these large gifts have been just phenomenal in terms of giving us—the Resnick gift has really allowed building and focus on ecological problems and everything else—sustainability problems—which is really, very important. I was actually there as a president of the Alumni Association when the Moore Foundation announced their $600 million gift, when we were at the Trustees' annual meeting at Smoketree. The thing about that was, I had actually met him on campus when I was in the spring of my master's year, Carver Mead actually organized that. He had about a half a dozen of us—of his students—meet in a very small room in Spalding, and he Gordon told us three stories about the kind of research that they were doing. Then he said, "Hey, if you're looking for work, we're hiring. Just call this number and schedule a visit." That's all I did in terms of being employed. [Zierler laughs] I'm going to rattle on here a little bit further because it's a funny story.
ZIERLER: Please, please.
JENKINS: Two years after I started at Fairchild, Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce peeled off to start Intel. That was in July of ‘68, and in September, I ended up joining Intel, but it was the result of Carver Mead. Andy Grove and Gordon Moore met me for lunch, and they told me they wanted me to come to work, but what I was going to work on was confidential, and they couldn't tell me about it. I said, "Well, that's a little demotivating. I'd like to know where I'm headed. Do you mind if I talk to my advisor about it while keeping confidential with him, and we'll see?" And that was Carver. So, I called Carver, and we're talking about this, and I said, "They're recruiting me to go to Intel, but they can't tell me what it is. Do you think that would make sense for me?" And he said, "Yes I do, because you're going to be working with me and Jim McCalden on zinc sulfide light-emitting diodes." [laughs] I said, "Oh my god! Really?" Then we talked about it. I actually had to put together a little lab down in Pasadena up on Walnut, and it was on the second floor. I had a nice evaporation-vacuum system for that. But otherwise, I had to build a little bench in there and whatever else to put a little furnace up and other things to work on this. That's how I ended up at Intel. The zinc sulfide didn't quite pan out as well as I thought it might, and I ended up going back after about six months of working and living down there. I ended up doing the initial work on Intel's bipolar process, which was sort of the second-most important, but it was the first one that got done. We had a 64-bit static random-access memory, SRAM, and that was our first product, probably in about ‘69. The speech I gave at Carver's 70th birthday—I think Milton Chang had that in his house in Los Altos Hills; good friend of mine, Milton's a great guy—anyway, I said I was trying to think about what I was going to say about Carver, but I said, "To me, I don't think I could have gotten a better employment agent," [both laugh] because I never worked outside of anybody else's organization beside Gordon, and Carver's the one that facilitated both connections. So anyway, sorry, but that was—
ZIERLER: Not at all, not at all. Ted, from your vantage point, both as a student and for all of the ways you remain connected to Caltech, what do you think it says that Caltech has always wanted to remain small when it always could have gotten bigger? What's the story there?
JENKINS: I think it's the interdisciplinary cooperation, and the other thing of just getting the best and the brightest and doing it, and making those discoveries and the impact. First of all, to expand in our neighborhood would be hard. We would have to buy a bunch of residential stuff, and the capital would be very large there. To a certain extent, one of the things that would be a great discussion to have is: What fraction should we be of education versus research? I think we're at a pretty good ratio right now, and as a consequence, obviously percentage wise, I think we do a lot more research than any other institute. We would have to, say, take a look at the MIT numbers and see how much research they do compared to how many students they have, but I think we'd be more research intensive than they are. The other thing that's good about that is it means that fractionally, we have quite a large number of professors relative to the students compared to a lot of other places, and that gives the possibility for great mentoring of students, and I think that's another benefit that comes out from our overall size that we have. So, yeah, I think we're in a sweet spot, but I think we should analyze it from time to time and compare us. I don't know whether you've heard about "total quality management," but one of the things that you do when you're interested, the whole idea is to do a root cause fix when you're working on something. But when you do that, you go take a look at a lot of benchmarks to see what other people, other institutes in your same area are doing and compare that, and also look at procedures that they put in place to make themselves better.
ZIERLER: Ted, as you mentioned earlier, of course, Caltech has changed quite a bit since you were an undergraduate. At a broad scale, what stands out in your memory? What are some of the biggest ways Caltech has changed?
JENKINS: Probably the biggest one is adding women to the student body. There were no females on campus—well, I think there were a few grad students, but in terms of undergrads, it was just us guys. Making that transition was a little tricky because we had this student house system, where, in those days, there were just seven houses. There were four before I got here. That was it. Then there were seven, and the idea was to get all of the undergrads on campus because they liked the way that was working. That is really one of the bigger changes, and that whole shift was really kind of hard, because somehow they repositioned these houses to also handle women as well as men, and that was tricky, especially if you think about bathrooms and stuff like that. Also, none of the rooms had their own showers. You had to go in and use a common one in the restrooms on there. They didn't really completely repurpose that, but going through it was a big challenge to make it safe and respectful of all of those, so that was one big thing. Other things: I mentioned LIGO earlier that's a project we work on in conjecture with MIT, but with huge government support, which has turned out well. The thirty-meter telescope, the 10 meter telescope: that's been a great thing. As a kid in grammar school, I remember when they put the mirror up at Mount Palomar. In Life magazine, they had a nice article on that. You can see the pictures of these big trucks carrying that mirror up there, and it was actually ground in the place just across that walk on the west side of Fleming House. It's Firestone now, but there was a different building there then, and that's where they ground the whole thing, then trucked it down to Mount Palomar. So, those are some of the bigger milestones that I can recall.
ZIERLER: Ted, more recently, you mentioned the impact of welcoming women as undergraduates here. What's your perspective on the relatively recent decision on renaming and what we learned about Robert Millikan?
JENKINS: As an old person, and this happens across the whole demographic, the older people just don't want change. One of the things that you could say about Millikan—and by the way, the other thing we decided was we're not putting any of this history away. We're going to bring it out—
ZIERLER: That's right.
JENKINS: —and stay with it. I think from the history we read, I'm not sure that he was super active in the ways that the Human Betterment Foundation decided to do things. I think for recognition, they wanted to recruit icons so that there would be strong people's names behind what was going on. Their thesis was this—or hypothesis, we can call it—was: We probably shouldn't have mentally ill people reproducing. This is back in the eugenics period, too, which I'm not going to get into that. You could argue that this kind of made sense on a couple fronts. First of all, perhaps some of the psychological problems are genetic, and there are factors there. They can also be environmental things, or how they're treated. The idea was, "Let's go ahead and sterilize all these"—because the other thing is, if you have a mentally ill parent with a child, that's probably not a great situation either. The basic idea was sterilize the mentally ill, and I think this Human Betterment Foundation, if I'm remembering the numbers correctly, they've sterilized 30,000 people. As time went on, we found out it was more complicated than that in the matter of how they're treated, what the environment is, and they basically decided that was not a good idea. So, as we get on into this period where political rectitude becomes more important—actually, one of my colleagues from Intel as well as Caltech is Bill Davidow. He wrote this book called Overconnected, which says that all of this incremental media that we have is causing us to overreact. It's giving positive feedback, and not positive in a good way, but positive as in a higher number way, of encouragement, and it makes us more partisan. There are other factors as well, I'm sure, but that has made this political rectitude more important, and there are ugly things about our history that—I'm talking about Confederate statues throughout the South. It's probably at a point where there are too many of those, but there are pluses and minuses to this. One of the ones that comes to my mind is, having grown up here in California—this is not a Caltech one, but it's a similar kind of deal—Junípero Serra is the one who led the building of all of these missions that we have from San Diego all the way up to Marin County. I think there's around 40 of them, and that ended up being probably the first interactions that, shall we say, Europeans had with the Native American Indians. They did not treat them particularly well at all, and that's why you hear, "Columbus Day… we don't know. Let's call it Indigenous Americans' Day." This gets into this high sensitivity of back and forth, and we gave a lot of positive to the missions that went up because it was a reasonably wholesome way of interfacing with that community. They learned about a lot of stuff—things that the European society knew how to do—but then they were also probably mistreated to a certain extent with how they interfaced with them. So, do we take Junípero Serra's name off of all of this stuff? Or do we let it run, or whatever? Some of those are tough questions about what to do, but I agree with what we did with the Millikan Building.
In fact, on the Athenaeum Board of Directors, we actually had four places where Millikan's name was. One was the Millikan Suite, which was one of the four suites that we had. We have an Einstein, a Hale, a Noyes, and the Millikan Suite. We had a big discussion about whether or not to change the name on that, and basically, we decided to do it. Somebody proposed JPL. I actually proposed the one that we picked. I said, "Why don't we name it after one of their really notable missions?" I said, "The Voyager mission that went out there to look at"—we had two satellites that went out there to look at Saturn and Uranus, and they're way beyond—this is in the 70s—and now they're way beyond the heliosphere, and they're still sending back information! Very low data rates, of course, but they're still sending it back. The PI, Ed Stone, did that. Then he became the director of JPL, but he remained as the PI on it. Then when he stepped down as the director, he was still the PI, and he stayed on that until just in this last year, so we renamed that the Voyager Suite. But we kept Millikan, Noyce, and Hale in the big painting in the main dining room because those three guys were such a factor in turning Caltech from the trade school that it was into the scientific school that it is today. And then he's a Nobel Laureate, so we left that one on in the Hayman Lounge. Probably haven't been there yet because it's—[laughs] not been open since you've been here, but we have that one. And he was the president of Caltech, so I think he's timed out in the lobby as you enter the dining room, but he was there as well. So, we decided those were critical to remain, but I think all across where we've changed some of those things, it's been very well handled, a very close look at the accurate history and everything else. I think the process all across campus has been really pretty good on that. But I have to tell you, there was an alum who—a good benefactor Caltech—and he was really upset because he contributed some money to the Millikan Suite, and he was not happy with the fact that we changed the name.
ZIERLER: Not everyone is going to be happy. There's no doubt about it.
JENKINS: Right, right. But, I think we've got to consider our reputation, and the trademarking that we do is important, so I'm okay with that. I think we have to keep the history up there because I think it's important for us to know. If you look back on what they did, I can't criticize Millikan for having done what he did because it was something that made some sense, and I think there's something to it. On the other hand, it becomes a little too sensitive, and you probably don't want to throw wedges into how people view you.
Chips and Solid State Physics
ZIERLER: Ted, I'd like to now turn to some high-level questions as they relate to your career and areas of expertise. So to start, maybe at the most foundational, as a self-proclaimed hardware guy, where does that put you on the spectrum between electrical engineering and computer science?
JENKINS: [laughs] First of all, I really am more of a solid state physics guy. When you work on these, as I was working through with Carver—well, let me go back even further. I had an amateur radio license when I was in junior high school, and I had really a best friend that I met in junior high school, and we're still great friends. He ended up going to Santa Barbara, became the first engineering grad there, and ended up going to work for Hughes Satellite in Santa Barbara, and we just stayed together, and we worked on cars together. All of this hands-on stuff was very important. Neither my parents went to college. They were both pretty good crafts people. My dad was a welder. He did original welding at Lockheed on aluminum, and I worked on a lot of projects with him at the house. He would weld stuff up. He built our laundry drying system and built a big swing set for me and my brother, and we put in a pool when I was 10 years old and did a lot of the work ourselves. We contracted out the excavation, the gunning, and the plastering.
My point is, a lot of this is hands on, the physical stuff, so I probably had a bent in that. I built Heathkits, so I probably had a bent in that direction as I got into this. By the way, the other thing about ham radio is, back in the day, transistors were worthless for high power and high frequency, so vacuum tubes were really the best way to go. [laughs] I bought high power ones for my transmitter for $0.29 a piece from the surplus store [laughs] in Burbank. This kind of put me into the hands-on things. When I was a EE—and by the way, as an undergrad in engineering, they don't just make a distinction between mechanical engineering or electrical engineering. They do after a while because you go on one path or the other, but my undergrad degree is engineering, not electrical engineering. Working through there, I took material science courses, and I took some device physics courses. Carver was working on metal semiconductor contacts, so I got exposed to that. When I got ready to graduate and my colleagues found out that I was going to go to work for Fairchild, they said, "Ted, you said those things were awful. Why are you going there?" I said, "Well, I think the timing's about right." [laughs] So, I ended up wanting to do that. That's how I got into—and by the way, in those days, I did take a computer science class, and we had an IBM 7090, 7094 that took the cards that you put in there. You had a stack of cards that was your program and told the machine what to do. They also made us work on was known as a Burroughs 220, and it didn't have an operating system. It only had a 10,000-word drum memory. To put your instructions in, we had paper tape which had eight dots there, which was [laughs] how you put the bits in line to get them in there, and then when it printed out, it came out in a teletype machine. That was long in the tooth in those days, but it gave you a sense. Since it didn't have an operating system, you had to write the code so that you told every command exactly where to put the answer and all of this and add it all back. But it was just a complete thing, so I had that. That was a one quarter course. That's all I had to do with coding, and I just never really quite got into it. That's why I consider myself a hardware guy.
Then, as I said, my expertise really was cooking the chips. I actually got a patent on a process that I mentioned. When I went to Fairchild, after you pattern the aluminum that you had on the chip, then they went through a process they called "alloy," and it was 550° or 565° for 10 or 15 minutes—degrees C. I said, "Gee, I wonder why they call this"—I've been saying this myself—"I wonder why they call this ‘alloy,' because it does not get to the eutectic temperature, so there can't be any alloy." So, I did what I call a "Friday afternoon experiment." I took a little N-type wafer, put a little N+ in there, and I could end up taking a look at the different contacts with a curve tracer.
That's what we used in the old days to check and see what the breakdown voltages were, what the characteristics were of the of the devices we had, transistor gain and stuff like that. This was bipolar transistors. This is not MOS. MOS is mostly what we use now—metal oxide semiconductor—versus bipolar, which is NPN and PNP transistors. Anyway, I'm looking at these, and I put the metal on there. I patterned it, and before I "alloy" it, I look at a couple of connections, and one looks like a diode, but it's just really, really noisy and unstable. I said, "That doesn't look good." I wrote my comments down about that, and I took it into alloy, and I brought it back, and I look at this connection where I have the lightly doped N-type, and it looks just like a diode. It is a very smooth curve now, and then I'm looking at the forward voltage of this diode, and it's only about three-tenths of a volt. A standard PN junction, or an NP junction, would be about six-tenths of a volt.
Because of my experience with Carver and metal semiconductor connections. I said, "This is a Schottky diode. We can use this, and we don't have to gold dope the wafer anymore." You used to have to gold dope the wafer for digital circuits to cut the lifetime down so that it could switch back quickly. This would be what they called a "Baker Clamp" you could put on there to keep it from forward biasing and putting minority carriers into the collector that you'd have to suck back out when you change the switch. I was working on linear integrated circuits, so I took it over to my friends in digital and said, "Hey, here's the way you can make these diodes and you don't have to gold dope anymore." It took up a little more space, but it was very simple to put right in parallel with a collector-based junction.
I got a patent on that—and this is probably making the story a little bit too long—but when Carver came up, to consult at Fairchild R&D, he told Gordon, "I'd like to have lunch with you and a couple of my students, if we could, so just invite them as well." Jeff Wise, one of my classmates who also worked at Fairchild—he was working on the transducers, where with silicon, you can make an infrared-lighting emitter—we were there at lunch, and I had just come up with this, so I said, "Hey, Carver, you'll get a kick out of this." I just told him the story. He said, "What? Really?! We've got to call this the Jenkins diode!" I said, "No, no, Schottky already has his name on it." [both laugh] Gordon said, "What? Tell me that again." [laughs] It was a nice invention and a fun thing, and since I mentioned Gordon here again, there's been some fun times. When I had already said I was going to retire in the spring of ‘99, I was doing some stuff at another building, which was one of our larger ones that had a cafeteria. I was sitting by myself, and Gordon comes by and said, "Hey Ted, can I join you?" I said, "Sure, of course." [laughs] So, he sat down, and we're talking away there. Finally, in a little bit, he said, "Guess what?" I said, "What?" He said, "I'm 70 years old today." This was January 3rd, 1999, and I retired in 05-05-99, so I could remember it, and if they didn't have a party for me, it was Cinco de Mayo, I could find one somewhere. He told me he was 70, and this year we're talking, so he's well into his 90s, or 93, I think, is what he's actually at now. But he was always a great guy.
Another time I saw him early on, I think I was already involved in the Alumni Association or whatever. On another occasion at Intel, I happened to see one of our chemistry professors, Bill Corcoran and Gordon walking out to the front door, said hello, and Gordon said goodbye to this guy, and I said, "Well, what was that all about, Gordon?" And he kind of giggled a little bit, and he said, "They want me to endow a professorship," which was the $2,000,000 gift back in those days. I think he did ultimately form a foundation, and that's where that gift ended up coming from, that I told you about it. I want to say it's 2001 or something like that.
ZIERLER: Ted, I wonder, you have such a unique perspective on this. You understand this really singular intellectual connection between Caltech and Intel. Is there a way that you usefully separate out in your mind what are the Caltech achievements, and what are the Intel achievements? Is that even possible?
JENKINS: Oh yeah, because Caltech is not just electrical engineering. It's everything else, and a lot of those things that I've touted, they might have some electrical engineering content, but a lot of other things as well. So, yeah. Seismo, LIGO, telescopes, all of that stuff is very—the stuff that Mike Brown did—they used a group of things. He had a wide-vision telescope, and he scanned the sky, scanned the sky, scanned the sky, and then had a computer program that would identify some objects that were moving slowly, and he could infer that those were planets. That's not at Intel. Intel, probably their biggest deal was the way they got the microprocessor working and then promoted it. But, you mentioned Caltech and Intel. There was a time when we had five vice presidents at Intel—it's early on—that were Caltech alums in one way or another. Gerry Parker was a classmate of mine. He was a senior VP. Albert Yu, who's passed away now, he was a student at Caltech and also ended up well up I as a VP.
Bill Davidow—this is a funny story about Davidow: I was pulling into Intel one morning, and I was still driving my old ‘66 Mustang that I bought when I was finishing grad school. My grandparents have given me some money, and I ended up getting a little bit of some support from Caltech as I was finishing my degree. I think they paid half my tuition my master's year. The other thing that happened then was, actually Warren Emery—he was the swim coach and water polo coach—had been promoted to head of the Athletic Department, and he hired me as an assistant coach in swimming and water polo, so I got to do that during my Master's year. The thing that Davidow said is, he saw the Caltech sticker on the back window of my car and said, "Wow, Ted! I'm impressed! I was at Caltech and was going to work on my PhD, and after a year, qualified for a master's degree, but I decided this would be too hard to finish, so I went to Stanford." [both laugh] So, there was he, and then of course, Gordon was VP at Intel and actually CEO for a period of time, and obviously he's a Caltech alum as well. From my perspective, I thought that was a very strong connection in terms of how small the school is and how small Intel was at the time.
ZIERLER: When you started at Intel, did you have any sense of what it was going to achieve? Was it already on that path?
JENKINS: I did not, because people have asked me about startups and everything else—one of the things that I think—you think when you've got some good technology, "Oh, great. I'm going to start a company and do that." But you need more. You need some product definition. You need to know how that technology is going to express itself into a product that somebody's going to pay for and buy a lot of and everything else. I'm mentioning this because what Intel did with its first couple of products was, there were only memory devices. This is about the time to leave core memory—the little magnetic things that you can switch back and forth—-and move into semiconductor memory. The nice thing about defining a memory product is all you have to do is pick a power of two that makes sense. [laughs] We were 64; our first MOS product was 256; and then we went on, our first DRAM was 1024. It's one of these things that starting out—and as time went on, we ended up getting a contract with a Japanese calculator company, and we had a guy, Ted Hoff, I don't know whether you've heard about him—Marcian Hoff. He's the one that figured out we couldn't do that many different products, so he figured out one where we could actually reprogram the same chip to do these different functions that they wanted to do, and that's what set us on the path to doing the microprocessor. There were other people working on similar areas, but I think we did that project, and then the executed wha was called "the crush campaign," This involved workstations and other kinds of stuff, so that users of the microprocessors could have easy ways to figure out how to apply them to their needs. They called that a "crush campaign," and if we'd known what we know today about antitrust [laughs] I think we probably would have used a different title. At any rate, we weren't really on the microprocessor trajectory as we were getting started. That's why I bring that up, but we were doing this memory stuff. Actually, we had another guy, Dov Frohman, who came up with this EPROM, which was a memory where we stored static electricity on floating gates in an MOS device, and that's where all of this non-volatile memory comes from today.
ZIERLER: Ted, in reflecting on the profound ways Intel has influenced technology in American society, what are you most surprised at?
JENKINS: Let's see... In a way, I'm kind of surprised that they lost their way here over the last few years.
ZIERLER: What do you mean by that? How have they lost their way?
JENKINS: They did not keep up with the silicon technology, like TSMC—
JENKINS: Well, NVIDIA's different. NVIDIA was product definition, and keep in mind they use a foundry. They got access to TSMC, so that probably gave them an edge there on that. The one CEO, I think he had a relationship with one of his female workers, so he got tainted there, got replaced by the CFO. I don't think they've made enough importance relative to the technology for that period of time. It's gotten very expensive with the new equipment that you have to have, and everything else, but I have a lot of hope that this guy, Pat Gelsinger, will get them back on track, but it's going to take a few years before they could get these new buildings in place and up and running at a good rate. That's probably one of my biggest surprises at Intel. Otherwise, I think we really did pretty well for the good run there. Keep in mind, I'm coming up on 23 years of retirement, and I was only 55 years old when I retired. My wife had breast cancer, and my son had the psychotic break, and my nice stock option had matured, and I just said, "You know, I'm going to take care of my family here and go out," and it's worked out fine. I think that's another thing that's really made it a little simpler for me to stay involved at Caltech. I'm still working in terms of helping Caltech, but I'm not getting paid. [laughs]
ZIERLER: The opposite, in fact. [laughs]
JENKINS: Yeah. It's really been an enjoyable connection, so that's probably the biggest surprise about Intel. I'm trying to think if there was anything else. We've had some others. Non-volatile memory—I ran the memory division for a while, and I switched us from EPROMs to flash memory, and I shut down the E-squared memory. I think I did that for four years, but I think that was a really good decision. I don't think it was a surprise. I think it was something that really made sense. It was sort of a shift in the change there. They've actually spun off their memory business. They're not in it anymore, and that's probably okay, if they can really get their technology back and keep their microprocessor design on track as well. I think that'll be a great area for them. Plus, Gelsinger has also said that he's going to go to a hybrid model where they're going to offer foundry processing as well.
ZIERLER: Ted, you were really present at the creation for the idea of Moore's Law. What does that mean, and are we still in it? Is Moore's Law still being proven true year after year?
JENKINS: I think Carver would be a better person to ask that question. [laughs] It has really changed. He first proposed we could double the number of transistors every year on a chip that we're doing, and that was in 1965, I believe, if I am remembering this correctly. Several years later, maybe more like six, or seven, or eight, he changed it to every year and a half. He started this just by looking at—he did a semi-log chart, a logarithm on the vertical axis and linear on the bottom for the years, and he actually showed that it was pretty much a straight line, which allowed you to get into this doubling factor over the yearly period, or every year and a half. When I first started in the industry, it was—[footsteps in background] my wife is walking past.
ZIERLER: Hello, Ginger!
JENKINS: [laughs] That's David.
GINGER: Hi, David!
ZIERLER: Hello. Good to see you!
GINGER: You're doing an interview.
ZIERLER: We're having a great time already, just like I knew we would.
GINGER: Good. Good to see your face. [all laugh]
JENKINS: Anyway, when I first got into the industry, 10 microns was the narrowest we could make, but now we're down to well beyond 10 nanometers. But the simple calculation: 10 microns to 10 nanometers, that's a factor of 1,000, right? But wait! It's a factor of 1,000 in this direction as well, so in that period of time, that's a factor of 1,000,000 in density. Now, keep going here: our simplest product was the MOS product. We could do that with four masks—only had to go photolithography four times. Later on, we put some scratch protection on top, so that added five, but the bipolar devices were more than that. Now, the MOS products are up to like 20 layers. They've got multiple layers of interconnect. They're even going into some 3D transistors, which are ones that are around like that. We're probably down to a few, I want to say three to five nanometers, somewhere in there. We're getting really close on the atomic dimension, so I think we're approaching a stop to this. Carver actually gave a presentation. I think it was maybe shortly after he retired, so that was a while ago. He talked about it, and he mentioned how close—we were compared to the atomic distances, and we still had, not plenty, but we had a fair amount of space left. So, I think we're coming up on a limit somehow, and we'll just have to see what happens.
ZIERLER: At the atomic level, is that just that we're simply running into the laws of physics at that point?
JENKINS: No. For doing this stuff, sometimes when you put reverse voltage on a diode, you end up expending, or end up moving the minority carriers out a little bit, so that takes space. If you run into the next conductor, then you're going to have some troubles with the way that it functions. It's the atomic law, but it's also the law of electrodynamics, because you need spaces for that stuff to go on to have these semiconductors work, and you'll end up getting stuck there. Carver made this speech on it, and it was really interesting. Since he's moved on to physics, [laughs] he could give you a much better answer about this than I can. It's also because I've been retired, and I have not kept up in detail with what the current technology is and those different structures and everything else that's going on. It's like when you are storing stuff in your garage; you get to so much, and then pretty soon you have to start stacking it up, and that's [laughs] what they've done for the semiconductor process.
Career Longevity and Loyalty
ZIERLER: Ted, as you well know, nowadays, in the tech industry, it seems like people move around every year or two years. For you, having spent your entire career at Intel, what does that say in terms of generations? What does it say about you? And what does it say about Intel?
JENKINS: Well, I was on a good ride, so I didn't really feel like leaving, and since we were really ahead of the industry—I'd have to go back and take a look and see what fraction of the semiconductor business we were at that point in time, but I think we were really much larger than a lot of others. Fairchild was still pretty good, but they sort of changed. TI has had a pretty good run, and I haven't really parsed that, but in terms of changing jobs periodically, I think that could be a problem. All of the exempt people—and by exempt, I'm talking about California labor law that got monthly salaries—everyone at Intel got stock options. You'd get this option, and every year you could get a fourth of it and purchase it, and if the price was up, you could sell it. So, that really kept everybody hanging around, and it had a lot to do with loyalty. Plus, we really worked to get achievement done, and we had a lot of good stuff going on at Intel, so everybody felt like they were contributing and being a part of that achievement. That was probably even a stronger motivation than the, or at least as strong a motivation, as the monetary one. One of the things that's important in a company is the work culture, and that's hard to keep going when you've got people swapping out around like that. I haven't seen any data on that, so I don't know what's going on, but, I would say, that would be a weakness in your labor resource.
ZIERLER: Ted, between the jobs that you worked at Intel, and just the timing of when you were there, what opportunities did you have to see Gordon Moore operate?
JENKINS: When he was CEO, he would give speeches from time to time or publish things, really, pretty often. He's very reserved. If it were up to him, he would not have called it Moore's Law. [both laugh] Carver's the one that promoted that and got it going and was his best advertising outlet. But yeah, he was available. We always had a company picnic in the spring or early summer, so we would get together and see people, and they did do a number of social things like that, that really worked. One of the things that I did when I was VP and director of corporate licensing, I had to set the filing policy, and one of the things that I did for recognition was every fall, we'd have a party for all those people who had actually filed a patent. Of course, filing isn't getting one, but we had a very high record of being able to get patents for the ones that we filed, and it was just a matter of getting everybody together. I said, "We're our own entertainment here. We're here to have fun." Then during dinner, I'd run a running slide show of the of the patents that we filed at that location, and we'd have one in the Bay Area. I think I did one in Folsom, and then also down in—I think I did Oregon as well. At any rate, we just have those. If you recognize people publicly, they get a sense of involvement and achievement. But, you were talking about Gordon's presence. I don't think he came out to a lot of events or things like that, but everyone was well aware of what he was doing when he ran the company because he had to be involved in heavy capital expenses and other things like that, so you'd see him fairly often.
ZIERLER: Ted, have you kept up as a former employee of Intel? Do you still have contacts there? You keep tabs of what's going on?
JENKINS: To a certain extent, more from a social standpoint. There are two groups: there's the Intel Retirees Organization, and if you met the rule of 75, you had a retirement fund that you could use for medical insurance premiums. I'm a member of that, obviously, and stay involved with them. They have some annual dinners, or—I'm not sure—some of this stuff has waned during this last period, but they have some happy hours and stuff locally here that I'll go to. That's the retiree organization, but we also started one which was for anybody that ever worked at Intel called the Intel Alumni Network. I served as chairman of that, and actually, during the period when we reached our 50th anniversary, which would have been 2018. We had a big event down at the computer history museum and did that. We actually also got Gordon Moore to video record a welcome—about a 15 minute video of him welcoming us all there to the 50th anniversary, so that was good. We had sent a guy over there to—he's in Hawaii, I'm not sure you're aware.
JENKINS: [He] lives in a community called Mauna Lani, and there's a Mauna Lani hotel, but they also have a neighborhood development next to them. Betty Moore has fibromyalgia, so she really needed the warmth year-round to have less pain, so that's why they live there. Gordon came back a lot to board meetings and stuff like that at Caltech, but he's got Parkinson's right now, and traveling is tougher. I have a good relationship with Ken Moore. I don't know whether you've talked to Ken at all.
ZIERLER: No, not yet. I look forward to it.
JENKINS: He's a good guy. He's a major factor in the Moore Foundation. One of the things is that, when I talked about the Associates there, there are various communities here where you have different things, like at the Athenaeum. Almost all the Associates are members of the Athenaeum there, not so much elsewhere, and that's so that they can get access to the Athenaeum. He would come back from board meetings, and he sort of stopped doing that because the—all of a sudden, that's why he's a life Trustee at this point. Ken has stayed involved, and I've been pretty close to him. Obviously, over this last period of a couple years, I haven't seen him as much, but hopefully we'll get back together more. I don't think he came to the annual meeting, did he?
ZIERLER: I don't believe so.
JENKINS: Yeah. He lives in the Bay Area here. The Moore Foundation is right on Sand Hill Road, but where I was going with this thing about communities was, there's big community around Caltech, in Southern California. But, you take Silicon Valley here, I think we have five Trustees up here in the Bay Area. Davidow went into this entrepreneurial work after he left Caltech, but there's a lot of people up here that do that kind of stuff, so this is another hub of the Caltech community. We have alumni events. There's this guy, Peter Tong, who gets a seminar going every month, and I think it's on the second or third Thursday down in the Bay Area. I don't get to that as much, but I'm going into an Associates event a week from this weekend that's going to be at the art museum down in San Jose, so we'll do that. But, yeah, those are the different communities, so you really need to define the Caltech interface with them a little differently because you can—like tomorrow, I'm going to go down to the Seismo event, and I can fly in and out the same day. Quite frankly, when you book your Southwest flights far enough ahead, you can get them for 40, 50, 60 bucks, and that's cheaper than the hotel. [laughs]
ZIERLER: Yeah, it's true.
JENKINS: Anyway, did I answer your question? I think I might have drifted off.
ZIERLER: No, not at all. Not at all. Ted, for the last part of our talk today, I want to engage you in two sort of broad current events issues, one on campus and one more general to society. So, on campus, as you well know, computer science is now the dominant major among undergraduates. What is the significance of that, both for Caltech itself, and what it means in terms of what undergraduate students are interested in pursuing?
JENKINS: I don't think it's quite there yet, but it's got to be a part of the core curriculum, because regardless of whatever science or engineering people are working, there's bound to be some data analysis required, and you've got to learn how to do that. To a certain extent, I think Caltech actually started a little bit behind on this. The thing that's really been doing well: Adam Wierman has done a really good job on this, of pulling this up to speed and getting things going, but it's going to be tricky. I think it's probably something where we need to do some strategic, long-range planning, because it's going to be a disruption for us. We're going to have to add some people there. The other thing about computer science is that it's technical, but it's also an art form. You have to take a look at how you structure your codes and everything else, and how to do all that. It's going to be something that almost everybody has to learn how to do. When you look at the core curriculum, we've got math in there, we've got physics in there, we've got chemistry in there, and this is going to have to be in there as well because everybody's going to need to use it, but that doesn't mean everybody's going to become a computer scientist. Artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and things like that, they're going to require a lot of computer science, and it'll need to keep going. I think there will probably be some software people that don't have to be hardware people at all. I think it's going to be interesting in terms of the hardware and computers. There will probably be some changes there.
You mentioned NVIDIA earlier. One of the things about NVIDIA is that they had graphic processors, so any kind of data that is in a two- three- four- dimensional state, you're going to need to do coding for all of that, and those kinds of things. So, it'll have a little bit of a hardware effect as well, so that's going to be there. That's one of the reasons I like Gelsinger in there, because he's an architectural guy on the processor. For us humans, they're already talking about the chip availability effect on cars and stuff like that, but the software is going to be a really big deal as well, and I think one of the big challenges is this crypto and invasion of our information systems. That's going to be an ongoing threat. I think the incremental media that we have, and that effect on society is going to be a major one.
One of the things that I did early in retirement is I went to Aspen Institute that was on conference, and it was on, basically, electronics and computers and stuff like that. I met a communications professor there from Sac State, which is just down the road here a little bit, and her name was Barbara O'Connor. She asked me to come to her class, which was advanced communication—to talk about the technology. I spent a couple of sessions there, and she asked me to join her permanently, so I taught with her for 10 years as an adjunct professor at SAC state. What we talked about was the effect that the advancing technology on society, and we covered a lot of things like privacy, and there's also a legal component to this as well. If you're out in a public area, and you're getting video recorded continuously, you don't have an expectation of privacy because you're out there. People can see what you're doing. So, we talked through all of these things with our students. We got most of our material from the New York Times, [laughs] just talking about things. Even stuff would come up about—Google couldn't start its app in China without allowing them to censor searches. You cannot search for Falun Gong. So, the kids, the students were talking, "Hey, Google's a United States company! They have to align with free speech!" I said, "Don't you guys know anything about sovereignty? [laughs] China can have it the way they want. But, even if they do that, I think a little bit of Google is better than no Google at all." Those were the kind of discussions we had, and it was very interesting to see their reactions to a lot of stuff. We were able to come back and talk about where these things were going, because this woman was a communications professor, and I knew the technical issues. One of the things that she said early on was, "We need universal access to the internet, just like we have for telephones." I said, "Yeah, but access to what data rates? We don't have enough capacity for everybody to have a video connection, or maybe even an audio connection." This is back in ‘99, as I said. So, I said, "I think everybody should have access to internet so they can do email, but I think that's it for right now. Maybe as a technology changes, we can go to other stuff." It was an interesting period of time to talk about that, and I really enjoyed getting together with the students. I think it was one day a week, then we had this blog-like thing on email, where we had an email address that went to everybody, so we would get up there and discuss various things and did a lot of our development that way as well.
ZIERLER: Ted, last question for—
JENKINS: Let me just wrap up. I think the thing is, we need to stay aboard on the societal effects of this advanced technology, really what that means. I think I could certainly forecast that all of this media is causing a problem. There are things we things we need to do to calm down our whole cohort here. You look at what went on up to the election and everything else, all of that behavior, a lot of that really has been amplified by this incremental and independent media. I don't know what the real answer is, but probably like everything else, some sort of regulation to a certain point, and maybe certain algorithms that will keep things a little calmer.
ZIERLER: Ted, on that point, last question for today. As we survey the tech landscape, things seem very unsettled nowadays with Twitter seemingly melting down, and as you alluded to, the semiconductor shortage, and the supply chain issues. Drawing on your deep experience at Intel, which was such a rock in American society, what's a way out of our current challenge right now? What are some of the things you might draw on?
JENKINS: Semiconductor capacity: we had problems with that for the whole life of Intel because it's related to capital expenditures. In the beginning of an economic cycle where you're moving up, people really go crazy on capital expenses. They're buying a bunch of new equipment, everything else to expand, to get new technology, et cetera. We used to have a lot of pressure on our supply in those days. So, it's not just a current—and the other thing is, when you get to the peak of one of these things, people just don't buy anything else, and it goes down. In 1974 or -5, we had a business going down, and I actually ended up laying off 30% of my hourly staff. Back in those days, it was all women—all people working in the lab, photolithography, diffusion, thin-film deposition. I organized it in a way that I really tried to minimize it. A lot of the layoffs, people at these companies will do on every Friday. People sit around and talk about, "Well, who's going to get laid off today?" Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I said, "I just want it all to happen at once." Then I met with them and said, "We've done everything I can to minimize what this is going to be it. Our best thing that we can do to help this company is to go back and make sure we're doing as well as we can." I think it was really very effective, but I had to argue with my boss about doing it this way, because they wanted to sort of peel it off over time. I just didn't want to do it that way. That was one element that I think was—the ultimate question was what? Say it to me again.
ZIERLER: Just how things feel so unsettled right now in the tech industry, and drawing on your experience seemingly from a time of much greater stability, what lessons we could learn?
JENKINS: Yeah. My first point was it wasn't completely stable, but you really need to integrate the business with what you're doing, and I think it really requires high quality introspection so that you do that. Musk was actually a Caltech commencement speaker. Have you been back to look at that?
ZIERLER: I have. It's amazing that he did it.
JENKINS: Yeah, and he wasn't super successful. He was doing pretty well. He was clearly on a good track, but it was interesting. I think we've got to figure out how to do probably more strategic, long-range planning. We used to do one every five years at Intel. SLRP [laughs] is what we called it, "slurp." It was to say, "Okay, well, where are things going? What are we going to do? How do we deal with this?" I think these companies need to be a little more introspection and come up with some to do plans and what not to do. Now clearly, there are a lot of dynamics, and you've got to respond to that, but you've also got to decide which of these sectors are going to be the sweet spots and which are not going to be. I think that somehow, we've got to feedback some sort of social skills to a lot of people and teach them to a lot of people so that we get into this "On the one hand, on the other." I'm a Libra. [laughs] That's the blind scale-holder. [both laugh] We have to get into this mode where we collaborate, we brainstorm, we throw out good ideas, and we come up with the best solution working on that. We need to get some societal norms relaxed a bit, I think. It doesn't mean we need to relax from driving for success, but we need to relax psychologically and from a team standpoint, much, much better than we have. How do we do that? I think healthy leadership is certainly a good role. In the olden days, I thought religion was a factor, just because it's a separate authority that gives you support in the same wholesome personal values. The thing that we don't do so much is this brainstorming, and thinking about goals, and thinking about some ideas, running some experiments to find out which is going to be the best way to go. I think that's the methodology that we've got to get back to. The only the place I can think of it coming from in where we are now is the leadership from management. I think that's probably where we need to go. I don't know. What do you think?
ZIERLER: Oh gosh, I'm with you. We need good leadership. That's the start.
JENKINS: Yeah, yeah. I don't want to go political on this, but look what happened with voting Trump in as president, and then all his various intensity in these different directions. It's not the way to get things done.
ZIERLER: It's not. Well Ted, on that happy note, we'll pick up next time. We'll go all the way back to the beginning, trace your family background. We'll take it from there.
[End of Recording]
ZIERLER: Okay, this is David Zierler, director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Monday, December 5, 2022. It is great to be back with Ted Jenkins. Ted, as always, it's great to see you. Thanks for joining me.
JENKINS: Yeah, by the way, speaking of December 5th and my family that you want to talk about, this is my father's birthday. He was born on 1917, so he would have been 105 today.
ZIERLER: Oh, wow!
JENKINS: He made it to 73, but was a very, very interesting guy—was a welder during World War II at Lockheed. This is when Lockheed was at the Burbank Airport. The heliarc was for aluminum welding, and they had not yet done that at all, and they were starting to make the planes with aluminum pieces and stuff like that. It was very interesting. He didn't go into the service, but in World War II, we had probably eight or so employees for every army person, or Air Force, Navy, et cetera, in the services, so everybody was doing their bit for us during World War II.
ZIERLER: Ted, let's go back even a little further. How many generations does your family go in California?
JENKINS: Oh, that's a good question. My dad was born here, but his parents were Danish. They were called Ørums—Ø (with the line through it)-r-u-m—from Denmark. They came in through Mississippi, got married, and ended up in Hollywood. That's where my father was born, so he was the first one. My mother was born in Chanute, Kansas, so she got here when she was 2 years old. Her father worked for the Santa Fe Railroad and was a fuel supervisor, so they lived all along Route 66 at different times, mostly in Kansas, a little bit in Oklahoma, which nobody liked. He came out of—I think he was born in Ohio and spent time in Pennsylvania growing up, and then ultimately got into the railroad and was there. My maternal grandmother, her last name was Shoemaker, and she was from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Off the top of my head, I can't do exactly how many generations they were, but back to why I'm a Jenkins and not an Ørum: my father was the youngest of four boys, and his mother had some mental illness or some other problems, and I think they probably just passed him off as a convenient adoption to another landscaper whose name was Jenkins, also working in Hollywood. He stayed together with his biological family. He'd go over for holidays and things like that. I've met some of my Danish cousins, so it's interesting. I haven't stayed really close. At some point in time, they move to Glendale, and that's where he met—well, he was actually in school with one of my uncles, grammar school, and then ended up meeting who was to be his wife, later on. He didn't do it through that connection, so it's kind of interesting. I went to all the same schools, so I actually had some same teachers that my parents had.
ZIERLER: Ted, did you have a relationship with any of your grandparents?
JENKINS: Oh yeah. They lived in Glendale. The maternal grandparents would always have a lot of barbecue parties in the backyard. Actually, my dad helped make the barbecue. It's an old fashioned furnace that we used to burn garden waste in. It was great because he always did an album and would write the menu on there and the temperature, and then people would sign the page and put some comments. Then he'd take a few pictures, and they could be at the bottom of that. There were five siblings. My mother had four, and a couple of those lived in the LA area, so we saw them quite often. That's how that worked. My other grandparents who adopted my dad, didn't have any children of their own, so he was their only one. A lot of times they would babysit for us. We would go them. My grandfather was a really good camellia nurseryman. He grew the plants in his backyard and also worked for a guy at the Markham estate. In Glendale, the walk was about three blocks up to the place, and he would take care of the plants. A lot of the communities, just grew out in a forest-like situation. It was really nice. Markham was the one who invented the air gun, so that's how he made his living. We would spend a lot of time with my grandparents, so I really had a good relationship with him. My other grandfather was also a pretty good wood craftsman, made a lot of stuff, and was always working like that in retirement. The thing that he did for Santa Fe was fuel supervision. He would coach the engineers on how to operate their train so it would minimize the fuel consumption. In retirement, he was actually recruited, and was about one of five advisors that went over when Saudi Arabia built their railroad. This is in retirement for him, but none of them are still alive. We're getting long in the tooth. I'm in my 80th year, 79 right now, so it's hard for grandparents to survive that long. [laughs]
ZIERLER: Ted, do you know how your parents met?
JENKINS: Yeah. There was a couple; I think it was on a double date. Actually, one of my classmates at school, his parents are the ones that introduced them to each other. I don't know a lot of stories about that, but that's how it got started, and living not too far from each other, it worked out. None of my parents or grandparents went to college—so I was one of those first generation students. Anyway, that's how they met. They went to the same high school, but there was about a four or five year age difference, so obviously they would not have met in school. But yeah, they did that. My father was good friends with one of my mother's brothers. They were actually in 4th grade with a teacher I had in junior high school, [laughs] so it's really funny.
ZIERLER: Where were your parents living when you were born?
JENKINS: My parents were living in Glendale, so I was born in Glendale. For my whole life, we were up in the Verdugo Woodlands region of Glendale. When I was born, I think they were renting an apartment on Verdugo Road—2020. [laughs] Then we moved up to a place. My grandfather helped my dad buy it—the paternal grandfather—and that was up on El Rito Boulevard, between Cañada and Verdugo Road, not too far from a wash that runs down through that valley.
ZIERLER: What level of education did your parents achieve?
JENKINS: They were both high school graduates. My mother, while she was in school, actually learned stenography, and other kinds of office skills. There was one time when—this is before workers comp—my dad hurt his knee and couldn't work for a while, and my mother went back to work in downtown LA as an administrative assistant secretary. My father went through high school, and obviously his father was this nurseryman, so he got exposed to that, but he had an uncle that had a sheet-metal shop over in Hollywood, so he actually did that for a while. One time, the welder quit, and they asked if anybody knew about welding. My dad stuck up his hands and didn't know it, but told him he'd learn it, so that's how he got into that.
ZIERLER: Do you know the story of how your dad got into welding?
JENKINS: It was through that. It was through his uncle's sheet-metal shop. There's a lot of bending, fitting, and screwing things together, but there was also welding, so that's where he learned welding.
ZIERLER: What was his first job as a welder?
JENKINS: Probably in that shop, working there as a welder. He worked for some of the movie studios, too—RKO, I remember—and he would help build the movie props that they were going to use, like maybe modifying a car or something like that. He had a Ford, I guess it was a sedan. I think it was a ‘32 or something like that. He ended up chopping it down, so he ended up having a lower roof on the thing just to make it a little jazzier, so that's the kind of stuff that he got into. When I was a young kid, he built a big shop in the backyard. We had extra space in the back of our yard. He had welding equipment, a compressor; he painted cars with lacquer and a lot of stuff like that. We ended up building some ski boats while I was a kid. He welded up a big swing for us that was out of two inch pipe, [laughs] that had a big frame. As the oldest of the three of us, I ended up being the welder's helper a lot. [laughs] He actually also invented a ski rack that you could put onto a convertible. He would rivet a couple little pieces of a hinge there that you could slide up and through to mount the ski rack there and actually had some springs that would hold the hold the skis on there. So, he was very creative in a lot of ways. That, as well as art. He actually welded up a lot of art, as well. He took one of these five-gallon tin cans that's square and actually melted out a bunch of shapes that look like goldfish, with the fins and other features like that, then welded those together to hang on the inlet of the wall of my place at the Delta. [laughs]
ZIERLER: Ted, would you say growing up you had a middle-class childhood?
JENKINS: Yeah, I would say so. We weren't rich, but with the help from my grandfather, we were able to get this house that we owned. Basically, he loaned the money; my dad was making payments to him, and at some point along the line, he said, "Okay, that's all I need." [laughs] The house was $24,000 or something like that in those days. It's probably 1,000 times that today, I don't know—not 1,000, but 100 times. But, not super wealthy. The other thing: back in those days, we could drive up Highway 2 into the mountains there and get to a couple places to ski, Kratka Ridge and Mount Waterman. My parents took their honeymoon at Yosemite and stayed in Camp Curry. Camp Curry is the place where they've got some wooden walls, tent toppings, and stuff like that. They're very, very sparse—a little bit like camping out. They were able to ski up at Badger Pass. They skied all along; they got me going when I was about five years old doing that. So, we could do stuff like that, so we were not poor. We were okay.
ZIERLER: And did you go to Glendale public schools growing up?
JENKINS: Absolutely, yes. Went to Verdugo Woodlands, which is the name of the school. It's just a little bit north of Glendale College, and it's kind of halfway in between Verdugo Road and Cañada—then went to Woodrow Wilson Junior High School. That was the time when I started going to the same school as my parents went to. They went to that one. Ours was a new campus, though, in those days. That's right near downtown Glendale. Then I went on to Glendale High School. The other high school story I have to tell you is, after my junior year of high school my dad bought a distributorship in Houston, so they moved down there, and because of academic as well as social reasons, I didn't want to move. My aunt and uncle had bought our house, so I cooked a deal with them, where I could spend the last year before college at that point.
ZIERLER: Ted, even as a young boy, were you always interested in science, math, and building stuff?
JENKINS: Yeah. The building stuff—one nice thing about this whole deal was that my parents gave me all these manual skills. I told you about the stuff my dad and I worked on, but my mom also taught me how to type, and that's back before they had electronic or electrical type. She said, "Here's where you hold your figures. You go like this," and spent about 15 minutes with me, and she said, "Okay, now it's all practice." [laughs] She also taught me how to use a sewing machine, so I did that. Not so much cooking, but I would see a little bit of stuff out there from time to time and was interested in how that went. But in terms of science, yeah, I think I probably did. My dad was not very good at electrical stuff, but I was kind of curious about that. I got this book; I think one of our neighbors gave it to me, or something like that. They were across the street. Sometimes I'd go over and see him earlier in the morning. It's called—and this shows you how much our attitude has changed over time—but it's called The First Electrical Book for Boys, so Ohm's law was in there, volts, amps, all that other stuff, so I was playing with all this.
In Cub Scouts, I put together a crystal set and was interested in things like that. We put in a swimming pool at the house when I was 10, and one of the guys—the husband and this couple that introduced my parents—was a good electrician. He helped do a lot of that, but I was able to work along beside him as we were wiring in the pumps and the lights, so I got some experience at that. In junior high school, I actually put together some Heathkits and got my amateur radio license when I was in about 8th Grade. I met a very good friend who came from a different grammar school. His name is Ken Shamordola, and we were really both into that kind of stuff. We got our licenses together, and we built equipment together, and used that, and did a bunch of other projects. He kind of liked the idea that my dad had the shop, and we would put different creative ideas of things together, both either mechanical or whatever, so that was a good experience growing up. It really stimulated the interest in science, so I made my receiver as a Heathkit, and I made my transmitter from a kit. Actually, my dad helped me put up a big pole that we could stretch the antenna from back by his shop to our house, [laughs] so lots of interesting things in association with that. The thing that I really like about this experience, and I think it's probably unusual for maybe a lot of the people at Caltech, was I ended up learning a lot of manual skills that I wouldn't have otherwise had. I did take a wood shop, metal shop, drafting, and print shop in junior high school, but just being able to do all that was really helpful. I think it also really made it easy for me to work in laboratories.
ZIERLER: Now, in high school, would you say your curriculum was strong in math and science?
JENKINS: Yes, it was. It was one of these things where I sort of decided—they didn't make you take all that, but I was kind of looking at it, and I was doing a little bit of looking ahead at college and saying, "Well, what do I have to have to get that?" So, I took the whole math curriculum. I took chemistry and physics. One thing I realized was that you had to pick one side or the other. I really picked the physical sciences, as opposed to the biology sciences, so I didn't take biology in high school. I just didn't have room for it, and I wanted to do the physical sciences. But my other buddy did; he took that. It's funny, because you talk about this—one of the things that he did was a biology experiment for his biology class. He ended up coming up with a small, little centrifuge, where he grew radishes that were sort of loaded with about seven Gs of gravity compared to what they would normally grow in. How would they grow? What would happen? And everything else. They came up, and they were very entangled kinds of plants, but they grew as much as they would have even in the natural G. Those are the things that we were thinking about as we were going through high school, of course, but really, I didn't know what anybody else was doing, anything like that, with my friends or anything else. It was an interesting period.
Sights on Caltech
ZIERLER: Ted, I wonder if in middle school and high school, if Caltech was sort of the dream for you, if that's where you knew you wanted to go.
JENKINS: My dad was the first one who brought it up, and he mentioned Caltech, so yeah, that was on my list. Then, down in Houston, Rice University, if they admitted you, it was a private school, but there was no tuition. They were so well endowed they didn't need to charge any tuition, so he said, "Why don't you apply to Rice? There's no tuition." And I said, "I'm not sure it's as good as school as Caltech." He said, "Well, okay." Anyway, I applied to Caltech and Rice, and I ended up having interviews with both of them. The one at Rice I had to go over and visit them. I was dressed up pretty well. I didn't have a coat and tie on, but I did have a nice shirt, shoes, and slacks. Even though I got 800 on the SAT math, they didn't admit me right away. They ultimately did later on. But Caltech did, so I tell people that, "Yeah, well, it was the only place I got admitted, so I had to go there." [both laugh] The other thing: my backup plan was, back in those days, if you had the requirements for University of California, you could apply in August and they would admit you. Obviously, there's no tuition, so I probably would have gone to UCLA or Berkeley had I not gotten accepted the Caltech. That worked out really very well, so it was a simple thing. I applied, and the guy that interviewed me was the psychologist from the health center, and that went fine, so here I am.
ZIERLER: Ted, it was 1961 when you first arrived on campus?
JENKINS: Yes, it was. That's my high school graduation year, yes.
ZIERLER: What were your first impressions? What sticks out in your memory when you got to Caltech?
JENKINS: The biggest one is—and if you looked at the calendar, you could see why—the core curriculum was Physics 1 the first year, and Physics 2 the second. Compared to other schools, we have all very simple numbers when you're in your first couple years. I was in that original Feynman class. The physics department had decided that they were going to redo the physics curriculum and stuff, and they wanted Feynman to do the lectures. It was all-hands-on-deck; to other professors were helping him, and they had other professors that were redoing the laboratories. One of the nice things about the sophomore physics lab was we were able to do the Millikan oil drop experiment to figure out the charge on the electron. There was really a lot of good material. The one that still blows my mind about the physics lab was, we actually had a .22 caliber rifle that we shot into a doweling that was inside of a piece of pipe in the lab. So, [laughs] here we are, firing off a gun inside the laboratory to see how much—the transfer of momentum was. It was an interesting thing. Speaking of that, by the way, one of the very first—Feynman always liked to do an interesting demonstration with the stuff he was trying to teach, so the very first one that we saw was, we're in 201 Bridge—have you been in that lab, in that building?
JENKINS: Yeah, okay. So, he had a bowling ball on a rope attached from the arch up at the top of the thing above the blackboards. He was on the side, and he pulled this ball back with him, held it right in front of his nose, and said, "This is a conservative force field, and minus a little bit of air resistance, this ball is going to come right back to my nose. Now, I gotta be careful not to lean forward or lean back because then it might hit me pretty hard. Just take a look and watch it." He releases it, it goes over, comes right back up, and he grabs it again. Here I am, about 60 years later, telling you stories that I saw in that lab that he had done, so the Feynman lectures were the most memorable. In fact, we were able to recruit him at our 25th reunion to come and speak to us. We actually had a session, in our 50th reunion where we were back in that lecture hall, and I was able to give a little bit of a preview, a precursor to an open mike session for my classmates to tell old Feynman stories. One of the other things that was memorable—well, there are two other things that were memorable. One was, one of his demonstrations where he setup two screens with a water shower that came down through the screens which were cross-connected. The point that he made was, he said, "We've got a slight static electrical imbalance here, and when the water goes through the structure, it's going to amplify the voltage difference, because as it changes, it'll transfer more electrons to make the voltage higher." He had a grounded stick that he put up there, and he was able to draw some arcs that were, I don't know, about two feet from this structure that he's telling us about and referencing Tesla. He always said some great, interesting stuff like that.
The other thing I was going to tell you, we would occasionally invite professors to come and have dinner with us in the student houses, and we had him come to Lloyd House. This was, I think, after I was out of his class. It was in the spring. We're getting ready for the swimming championship meet, and people were running around talking about, "Should I shave my leg? Should I shave my chest? Is it emotional? Is it physical?" Whatever else. When Feynman was over for dinner, one of the questions that came up was, "We're, coming up on this water championship; should be shave our legs, or what do we do?" He said, "Let me think about this. Why don't you shave one leg and see if you swim in a circle?" [laughs] So, it's hard to forget stuff like that because we're melding physics with what's our personal life.
ZIERLER: Ted, coming in like so many other undergraduates, was the plan for you to become a physics major? Was that your game plan from the beginning?
JENKINS: No, I really liked the engineering part of things, probably because of the practical experience that I'd had, and I like electronics. I was interested in that, so I probably would have liked to have been what I thought was an old-fashioned engineer. It was kind of interesting the degree that you get as an undergrad is not an electrical engineering degree or a mechanical engineering degree. It's an engineering degree, so I ended up taking the mechanical courses—or one or two, and electrical. I took the electrical engineering path. But, you really couldn't take the electrical engineering course until I think you've been through Physics 2 because that's where they teach you electricity and magnetism, Maxwell's equation. You really only get into that your last couple of years, and you're learning the other stuff. You have to take—it was two years of physics, two years of math, and Chem 1 in your freshman year. Physics and Chemistry also had labs as well.
We also had a fairly good dose of humanities, both English and history. When I compared my college experience with other people, like from University of California, I probably had twice as much humanities as they did in terms of units. There were no humanitarian degrees at Caltech when I was there, so all of the professors were really operating mostly like instructors. They were really, really good. I really had a great experience with those people. Because I was kind of interested in business, I took a business-econ course, which I really liked. That was later on. I took these engineering courses, and I was also interested in some of the material science. Being from ham radio, the vacuum tubes were much, much, much more capable at high frequencies and high powers than transistors were, and there was no way that you'd get the transistors into transmitters, but I was interested in where that technology was going. I could kind of see that it was really moving along. There was a lot of dynamics, and it would probably be an interesting space, but I always complained about it going through Caltech to my classmates. Then when I found out I was going to work in the semiconductor industry, they said, "Ted, what's going on there?" "You dissed it so bad." They said, "Well, I think the time is about right." [both laugh]
[Ted goes to answer the door; background conversation ensues.]
I'm back. Did you hear what I was saying?
ZIERLER: No, what was it?
JENKINS: We went to a Christmas carol event last night. One of our neighbors sings in the local chorale here, and we took one of our other neighbors that lived near us and actually ran the Boy Scout troop and even Cub Scouts before that. It was associated with the Mormon church. We had a little bit of trouble getting into the group with my son, but we spoke very strongly about how much we would help, because that's part of the Mormon culture. They're very communal oriented, so we took her with us last night. She just dropped a thank you note off back.
ZIERLER: That's so nice.
JENKINS: Yeah, she is, really. She's been a widow now for, I don't know, three or four years. She taught organizational skills at a vocational school around here, so she's really a good person. Anyway...
ZIERLER: Ted, back to Caltech as an undergraduate. Did you have any interface with computers, even in their early forms, when you were at Caltech?
JENKINS: [laughs] I did a little bit. I took a computer science class, and one of the things that they had us do was put some code on a Burroughs 220, and this was an older thing. At the same time, we also had an IBM 7090/7094—the ones you put the Fortran cards in, so we had that in the Steele building. They asked us to work with this other computer, which was an older one. I don't know how old it was, but it was a Burroughs 220. It only had a 10,000-word drum memory, and it had no operating system, so when you wrote code for it, you had to put the algorithms for your calculations in, the steps and everything, then say where to put the data and how to get it out, all this other stuff. In the time frame it came out, it was probably amazing, but on the other hand, it was not nearly as simple to use as current machines. The IBM did have its own operating system, and it had functions you could use and things like that, but it's back to those days with a deck of [laughs] those cards that are like this. In and out on the Burroughs 220, a teletype was the printer, and when you put your code in, you had this paper tape that had a possibility of eight holes across, and those were the bits in the byte, [laughs] so that's how you put your code in. This is when, I think it was maybe my senior or master's year, so that's like ‘64, ‘65, or ‘66. It was a good lesson to see that, but it's nothing like it is today, obviously.
ZIERLER: Ted, just a point of clarification: you said you took a computer science class. My understanding that the development of a computer science graduate program, that came later, and then for undergraduates, it came much later, so were their computer science classes, but there wasn't really a department that housed them?
JENKINS: This might have been an EE class, probably, and maybe it was in my master's year. It was my master's or senior year. I'd have to go back and look at it, but yeah, they did not have a computer science election or anything else. It was just starting, and quite frankly, Caltech got a little bit of a late start to computer science, but we've been accelerating along very well. Adam Wierman's done a great job on that.
ZIERLER: Tell me about meeting Carver Mead for the first time. Where was that?
JENKINS: [laughs] Well, I had the nostalgia going right by that building. I met Carver Mead in Spalding. No, I'm sorry, that's where I met Gordon Moore. I'm trying to think. I knew that he was… I might have been taking his class; I'm not sure. My first advisor as an undergrad was Hardy Martel. Then it was Floyd Humphrey, he was a specialist in magnetism. When I became a grad student, I got to Carver because I was interested in his part of the EE department. I have a lot of Carver stories, but I can't remember the exact first time. I might have crashed his office and just asked him, with what I was interested in, if he could be my advisor. I think that's what I actually did. In my year there, the electrical engineers were actually in Spalding, which was shared with the chemists, so Carver's lab was there. Amnon Yariv was there. Since I mentioned Gordon Moore, I'll go ahead and tell that story as well. Carver's the one that introduced about half a dozen of us to Gordon Moore, and Gordon said—this was in the spring of my master's year—he told us about three different stories of things they were working on at Fairchild R&D, and then he said, "Hey, if you're looking for work, we're hiring. Call this number and schedule a visit." That's all I ever did. I don't even think I prepared a resume for them. I went up and had six interviews at Fairchild R&D, which was in the Stanford Industrial Park. It was separate from the Fairchild factory and business place. It was great. Actually, even Andy Grove was one of my interviewers as a new college graduate. We used to call them NCGs. [laughs] I got a couple of offers and ended up going to work in linear integrated circuits there.
ZIERLER: Ted, do you know what Carver was working on when you first met him?
JENKINS: Yeah, I did. He was working on metal semiconductor contacts, and it's kind of interesting, because if you think about it, the original crystal sets were a metal semiconductor contact. You had this little cat whisker, they called it, and you'd touch down on galena, which is lead sulfide, and that would make a diode. That's how the crystal set would work. He was into depositing metals on semiconductors. He also worked on superconducting materials as well; he did some experimentation on that. But yeah, he was looking at the the size of the gap in the semiconductors, how much it was, so he was looking at different kind of metals, different kinds of semiconductors together to see which of those were diodes. That stuff actually helped me with probably the first patent I ever got, which was on the aluminum-silicon Schottky barrier diode.
ZIERLER: Ted, was your sense—was Carver working with any other faculty on campus? Was he basically a one-man operation at that point?
JENKINS: Mostly, although there were probably some things where there might have been some materials connection or other things, but I think, yeah, pretty much he was working mostly on his own.
ZIERLER: When you asked him to be your advisor, would that have been for undergrad or for your master's program?
JENKINS: That was for my master's degree.
ZIERLER: And what was the thought process for you to stay on for the Master's?
JENKINS: As I said, you couldn't take any engineering until the last two years, and I thought that I needed a little more. There was also a lot of bias. "Bias" depends on who you talk to, but there were a lot of people that really felt that most of our students should move on to academia and get a PhD. I didn't think I needed one, but I thought to be competitive in the job market, I'd get another degree. I could do it in a year, and it would end up being a good thing for me. It was. I got to do a little more research, and I got to take some additional courses, and I felt pretty good. A lot of times, I'll tell people that the couple years I spent at Fairchild R&D kind of launched me through my PhD. [laughs] Two years is enough to get a PhD, but I ended up getting exposure to a lot of incremental science and development, things that were going on in the transistor business.
ZIERLER: What was it like working with Carver? Was it hands on? Would you meet with him every day? Did he give you the ideas of projects to work on?
JENKINS: Not so much. He gave me a couple of things that I ended up working on, and they were more materials oriented, and I'd work in the lab. I would periodically, every once, maybe two weeks, I'd go in and share the data that I got, but that was kind of the way it worked out. I actually had some research as a part of the classes that I was taking, and he was the one that told me what it would be, so he sort of set it up for me. I think I did a couple of different projects like that, but it was pretty much working on your own. I felt very comfortable with that. We'd go back, and we'd talk about what the results were and infer the science from that.
ZIERLER: Was there a formal thesis that you wrote up for the master's program?
JENKINS: No, I did not. Caltech was not doing that in those days. I don't think we do today either, do we?
ZIERLER: I'm not sure. I'm not sure. Usually for the master's program, it's just sort of incidental on the way to the PhD.
JENKINS: Yes, yes, but for a lot of engineers, it's terminal. Sometimes the PhD applicants get thrown out there, but I was really headed for the end of it there. The courses were pretty well designed to add on another years' worth of experience. I thought it was pretty good.
ZIERLER: Ted, what was it like meeting Gordon Moore at that point?
JENKINS: I didn't know how famous he was at that point in time. I learned a little more later on, but he was really, really interesting. Carver was a consultant for Fairchild R&D, so that's how he got the connection. I'm sure they were recruiting, and Carver's group would be a good choice for them, so Gordon came here. Carver's set up the meeting—I want to say there were about six of us in that little conference room in Spalding—and Gordon tells this story. Of course we knew he was a PhD from Caltech. I didn't know quite as much about his business experience, but I can tell that to you later here, because being in the business, you find out about it, and there's a strong Caltech connection with Silicon Valley. But, he told these stories; they were very interesting. The one that I specifically remember, he was talking about higher power transistors and how you'd start with a basic wafer. Let's say you're trying to make an NPN transistor; you start with an n-type wafer, which would be doped at not a heavy level. Then you diffuse a p-base into it, what became the base of the NPN transistor. Then you diffuse an emitter into it, and you connect up the emitter and the base, and you forward bias the emitter, and that would send minority carriers off into the collector. There was an amplification there. You could get—say you put a certain amount of current through the emitter base—then you could get like 100 times that coming out of the collector base. That's how a transistor worked as an amplifier. In a high-power transistor, there would be some variations from the size and distances and stuff like that. One of the things that they did was they put these different emitters in there, and then they would put some resistance in series with that so that if it started drawing too much power, it's voltage would rise and would automatically cut itself down a little bit so it wouldn't be destructive. So, they put multiple emitters in here and then put a little bit of resistance between that and the emitter connection, and that sounded like a very clever thing to do. It kind of made you think about how the engineers are thinking about interesting developments in this technology going forward.
ZIERLER: Even as a graduate student, did you have a sense of just how revolutionary the work was at Fairchild, what they were doing?
JENKINS: They had a really good reputation. They were the largest, I think they were, actually. I'm not sure. No, I don't think they were quite as big as TI in those days, but they were doing well, and they were really doing well in integrated circuits, so they had a good list of those products. Motorola was also doing very well, so those were the big ones, but Fairchild was encroaching in on them, so that was interesting. Plus, it's in California, so I wanted to stay in California, being a native here, so that was another factor in my decision. Actually, I'm not sure I applied anywhere else for my job.
ZIERLER: Even for a second, did you give any thought to staying on for the PhD?
JENKINS: Not much, really. No.
ZIERLER: When you made that decision to call Fairchild, what were you hoping? What did you want to accomplish at that point?
JENKINS: I was just looking for an interesting job where I could keep pushing the technology forward and help out with the part of the business activity of it, so that's why I ended up working in the linear integrated circuits. We were developing new technologies for the manufacturing people, and then of course the marketing people down there had defined the new technology. But, what Fairchild was doing in those days was, they called them "operational amplifiers," so these were amplifiers that you could use for magnifying sound and those kinds of things: optic—sound equipment and those kinds of things, or controlling mechanical things as well. So, all of that, those op-amps were good for connecting sensors to—they didn't really have robots, but there would be things that you'd want to control, or even thermostats and devices like that.
ZIERLER: Ted, graduating in 1966, even before you take on the new job, was the draft something you needed to contend with? Was military service in Vietnam on your radar at all?
JENKINS: Absolutely. You had to register for the draft when you turned 18. I registered when I got our of high school, but I applied for and got a college deferment. But yes, I had to do that, and it was a very big deal. While I worked at Fairchild, I actually had a secret clearance, and I was working on things that could be used for bomb fuses. I wasn't involved in any military research or anything like that, but since the stuff qualified for that, I could get a deferment, and I was able to do that, and Fairchild supported me in that.
Beginnings at Fairchild Semiconductor
ZIERLER: Tell me about that initial interview at Fairchild. What was that like?
JENKINS: I went up there. I had six different places to talk to, and I think it was about 45 minutes per each of those. I talked to somebody in linear integrated circuits. I talked to Andy Grove, who was doing semiconductor surface physics. They were working on developing MOS transistors. They also had a transducer section, so I talked to those as well. Those are ones where silicon has the capability to measure infrared signals. I got kind of a good vision of the fundamental physics, or fundamental research that they were doing, plus what some of the engineering activity was, which was kind of what I was interested in. I got an offer from them, and also from the device development section of R&D. I really liked the idea of the integrated circuits, so I ended up going with that offer. It sort of fit my interest in terms of audio electronics and things like that.
ZIERLER: Ted, drawing on your education at Caltech, what aspects were really fundamental that were just important for you as you were starting your career? And what areas did you have the most experience in applied work coming to Fairchild?
JENKINS: When you're working there, they have this sort of central fab capacity where you have to define your own process. Say you have to provide them with a mask set and the instructions, and then you have to take it over to the diffusion area and oxidation area, and have all of that work done. So, you have to actually write out exactly what you want, specify all the aspects that you're going through. I didn't have to put my wafers in the furnace or things like that. You could just turn them in, and the masking room would do the masking. Having all of that material science and chemistry really helped. My first invention came from the aluminum-silicon Schottky diode. Schottky is not to be confused with Shockley, but it's basically the metal-semiconductor diode. As I said, the galena is actually the first semiconductor we had in the crystal set. By the way, Fairchild also taught us a class in semiconductor processing, so they taught us about diffusion and the formulas for that, oxidation, how it grows. They actually had a manual that gave us some of the factors to calculate how far these impurities would go, et cetera, from diffusing these minority impurities in there. That, including what I learned at Caltech was really a great way to deal with all of this. But yes, I did need that additional education at Fairchild, which they had PhD physicists teaching that to all of us. Actually, Andy Grove's first book—most people don't even think about this—was about semiconductor process and engineering.
ZIERLER: Ted, I'm sure you've heard the stories about Bell Labs and their interest in supporting basic science, whether or not it had value to the company's bottom line. Was there a similar research culture at Fairchild? Could you pursue things, even if it wasn't immediately apparent if they had business value?
JENKINS: The part of the organization where I worked was pretty clearly linked to business, but they were working on various things. For example, Fairchild was really one of the early ones in silicon-gate MOS transistors, where they put down some multi-crystal—well, it was very fine grained—but deposited some silicon material, which they'd etch away, and then use that as the as the gate, instead of a metal, which was the original gate for MOS. That's kind of a fundamental thing. I don't think there was a specific business imperative, but it was related to something that would be an evolution from the transistors, so it was within that area that they had to do it. It wasn't that you could go out and be a free-range investigator. There were things that went onto the fundamental exploration things, but they would ultimately lead toward something that would fit into the semiconductor, transistor, or linear integrated circuit business.
ZIERLER: Ted, just to give a sense of the size of Fairchild at that point, what was the reporting structure like? Who did you report to? And then, how many levels between that person and Gordon Moore, for example?
JENKINS: I was in the linear integrated circuit group. There was a leader at the top of that, and then there was a process leader and a circuit leader, and then I was in the process group. Then the leader of linear integrated circuits reported to the manager that ran device development, and then he reported to Gordon. So, let's see. That would put me four levels down from Gordon.
ZIERLER: You mentioned that there was some military applications to this work. I wonder if you could describe that a little.
JENKINS: Yeah, they said the amplifier could be used for a bomb fuse, but I really never knew anything about how it was connected in there. It was a micropower op-amp that I was working on, so it had some transistors that really performed very well at low currents, so that's really all. That made sense from a battery powered kind of application, but other than that, I didn't really know exactly what they were doing with it. I had gotten myself in there and had that secret clearance because of the stuff I was working on, but I wasn't given a lot of instruction about secrets that I couldn't talk about from a military standpoint. On the other hand, from a business standpoint, all of that is pretty confidential because a lot of it is pre-patent, and you want to make sure that you keep your business secrets within the company, so that you don't spur some incremental, more serious competition from a competitor.
ZIERLER: On that point, who were some of Fairchild's key competitors? Who were the big clients that all of these companies were working to win contracts for?
JENKINS: Since I was at R&D, I didn't really know exactly who the customers were. This is before I went on at Intel where the customers became more apparent after I got there. I know that they did have some military business. I wasn't associated with it, so I don't know, but the thing that you had to do for the military business is that the devices had to be strong enough to work in higher temperature environments, and had to have reliability records that were very good. But other than that, I'm not exactly sure what they were because it was kind of a long way from the business and marketing part of it.
ZIERLER: Ted, I wonder if you could paint a picture of what the work environment looked like. In other words, were you in a clean room most of the time? Did you work at a drawing board? What did it look like?
JENKINS: I did have a clean-room coat, but I didn't wear any kind of mask or any kind of thing on my head. Our wafers were in a box, so they were closed up like that, and then we would drop them off at these different work surfaces. I did have a work bench out there with the lab assistants where we would take measurements and add data and things like that, so it was mostly electronic. We had curve tracers to check our devices. There were things that we could monitor partway through processing. You could look at p-n junction breakdown-voltages to give you some sense of what the metrics are of the parameters that you're trying to control, but it was not really in a clean room. The masking room was pretty clean. We didn't have any fume hoods or anything like clean-air hoods. They did in the masking room though, but that was a closed door; we didn't ever get inside of there. Likewise, in the diffusion areas, we didn't go inside either, but those had clean-air devices. The first place I ever ended up using bunny suits was 5 years after I got to Intel. I led the first group at Intel to do that, but that was in 1973 at the wafer fab 3 that I started in Livermore so that was later.
ZIERLER: What were some of the most important raw materials that you worked with during the Fairchild years?
JENKINS: The silicon wafers, of course, are one of the big ones. They make those by starting with a single crystal down in this hot, molten silicon, and they pull it out slowly, and as it precipitates because of the coolness on the wafer, on the material you're pulling out, it goes into a single crystal wafer, so those had to be single crystal. This tells you how long ago it was, but the wafers we were using were an inch and a half in diameter. And now they're—[laughs] actually, I think when I left Intel, I don't know whether they were much bigger than four inch wafers. At my Fab-3 wafer fab, I was the first one to do three-inch waivers there, so again, that tells you how long ago that was.
ZIERLER: Did you use computers at all during the Fairchild years?
JENKINS: No, I don't think so. When I graduated from college, there were no four-function electronic calculators. In fact, there's a picture of me in one of the labs when I was working at Intel. I I had these rayon or nylon white dress shirts, and a very narrow tie. [laughs] There was one of those short slide rules, the kind that has folded plastic at the edge, that are only about 8" long. The big ones I'd use when I was at my desk, but no, all the calculations we had to do were all slide rule.
ZIERLER: Did you have a sense of some of the tensions—
JENKINS: By the way, to do higher accuracy calculations that were kind of complicated, we had—and I got this when I was in high school—it's called Mathematical Tables From the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Those would give you five-place logarithms, and you could add those to do multiplications, so we would use that more accurate calculations. It was only a couple of years after that when HP came out with their fancy calculator. But no, when I started, it was all still slide rule.
ZIERLER: Did you have a sense of some of the tensions that were building up with the Fairchild board that ultimately would lead to the creation of Intel?
JENKINS: No, I did not. I really didn't. I don't know whether it was the board, but I guess there was some stuff going on. I'm trying to remember. We had some people spin off to National Semiconductor and start that. That could have stirred up some of the trouble. When I got to Fairchild, it was nine years old. It started in ‘57, and I was there in ‘66, so yeah, nine years. They had a plan they were working on. It might have been that we were a fairly significant company, but we weren't very high in the management structure of Fairchild Camera and Instrument.
ZIERLER: When did you first get news that Intel was happening?
JENKINS: It was around—well, they started Intel in July of ‘68, so it would have been right around that period of time. I happened to see Gordon Moore, and I think he had announced his resignation, but I don't think they talked about what it was. I wish I could remember the thing that he said; it was kind of a lighthearted joke. I said, "Well, are you going to quit working?" And he said, "Not yet." [laughs] Then I said, "What are you going to do?" And he said, "We're working on it." [laughs]
ZIERLER: What did that mean for you professionally? Did you give any second thought about joining Intel from the beginning?
JENKINS: I don't know when they really became public about what it was, or exactly what their timeline was when they left the company. The other thing that was going on was that the linear integrated circuit people I was working with were thinking about starting a company. Actually, that wasn't formalized either, but I'd heard a little bit about what the stock options might be as a percentage of the company. I think that one was about 10 times what the Intel one ended up to be. My wife, whom I met a Fairchild, had started there. We were both the same age. She'd started there right out of high school in ‘61, and she was working on line as a die attacher and lead bonder, and ultimately got into spec writing and supporting marketing. When I was considering this stuff—and we didn't get married until after I went to Intel, but we were pretty close—she was telling me, she said, "I would go anywhere with Bob Noyce." I knew Gordon. She said, "I don't know Gordon that well, but Bob Noyce is wonderful. I would go anywhere with him." So, it was actually that little bit of extra encouragement that ultimately closed the deal. [laughs]
ZIERLER: Ted, to clarify, you could have stayed on at Fairchild if you wanted to?
JENKINS: I think so, yeah.
ZIERLER: Were you part of a larger exodus? In other words, what was the rough percentage of people who left Fairchild to help start up Intel?
JENKINS: They were very careful about that. They were worried about some kinds of legal liability. During that period of time, I want to say something like 80% of the companies in Silicon Valley came out of Fairchild. Intel didn't want to make a big deal out of it, but a number of the people had worked at Fairchild. One of my early bosses was a Gene Flath; he had been at Fairchild. Tom Rowe, the other guy that worked on MOS—I worked on bipolar—we shared an office. He was MIT; I was Caltech. He was a chemical engineer; I was an electrical engineer. So, we had tremendous complementary skills, and we could really help each other a lot on various activities. He was from Fairchild as well. I think there were some other people from outside of it, but a lot of the significant people were from Fairchild. But, it wasn't a huge exodus because the company was starting from scratch. National Semiconductor was underway, and they actually probably sucked away more than Intel did right in that era. Later on, after that happened, Fairchild hired Lester Hogan—I can't do the whole time frame in my head—from Motorola, and he brought a whole bunch of people over. There were so many people, they actually named them Hogan's Heroes.
ZIERLER: Did you have any direct contact with Gordon Moore during this transition period?
JENKINS: I did after I started working there. Well, he and Andy Grove scheduled a luncheon with me to make an offer to get me to come to work. It turns out it was to have me work with Carver, as I told you before. At the luncheon, they said, "We have a confidential position we want you to take. We can't tell you what it is." And I said, "Well, that's not very motivating." So, I thought about it a little bit, and they said, "We don't want you to discuss this offer with anybody." I said, "Okay, I can do that." Then, as I got in, I said, "Well, could I ask my advisor at Caltech about this?" And they said, "Yeah, that'd be fine. But just, keep it confidential with him." I said, "Okay." So I did call Carver, and I talked to him on the phone, and he said, "Oh yeah, they want you to work with me and Jim McCaldin on zinc sulfide light-emitting diodes." I said, "Oh, wow. Well, that's kind of interesting." By the way, in that assignment, I would be reporting to Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore. I had to come down to Pasadena, set up a lab, and I actually ended up building my workbench and other kinds of items just to get this whole thing going. Bob and Gordon would come down every once in a while to visit, talk about it, and see it, but probably only a couple of times while I was there. I only did this for six months, but that was the genesis of it. I did get a 1,000 share original stock option, and it split a few times since then.
ZIERLER: Just a few. [laughs]
JENKINS: The $5 price went down to $0.14, I want to say, or something like that. [laughs]
The Launch of Intel
ZIERLER: Ted, do you have a sense of how Noyce and Moore got the funding together to launch Intel?
JENKINS: Yeah. It was the same way—they used Art Rock when they started Fairchild. Bob and Gordon were two of what they called the "traitorous eight." You've heard that before, I presume?
JENKINS: They had to sort of recruit Noyce, but he was the senior one, and really the one that would sort of be in charge. He was a little iffier about leaving Shockley. Maybe he thought he had a chance of replacing Shockley. Anyway, the remaining seven twisted his arm and got him to come to Fairchild. They ended up—obviously it wasn't called Fairchild—but the story I remember is that they got Art Rock to help them get the money. He went around to talk to various people, and they finally found that Fairchild Camera and Instrument was willing to fund their startup. Bob and Gordon used Art Rock to facilitate the funding at Fairchild. As I understand it, they had a 2 page synopsis of what they were going to do which was sufficient to get the funding to start.
ZIERLER: Ted, how much of the creation of Intel do you think was about just not being associated with Fairchild? And how much of it was, this was really an opportunity to move the engineering in a new direction?
JENKINS: I think it was probably Noyce—somebody had the thought that it was about time to put semiconductors into memory. Core memory, it's got some fragility in its kind of technology and whatnot.
ZIERLER: What was memory like before semiconductors?
JENKINS: Core memory, where you have a little circle of magnetic cores that you can magnetize one way or the other. They had a matrix like this through them so that you could select the one you were trying to encode, and then they had a wire that went all the way through so that you could go back and sense which way the core was magnetized. That was the original; they called it core memory, if you remember the terminology. They probably had a little bit of memory here and there in different circuits, but there really weren't any full-purpose semiconductor memories in those days.
ZIERLER: What was the motivation? Is this more memory? Is it faster processing? What is it?
JENKINS: Yeah, some of all of that. Moore had proposed his rule in—I want to say it was the spring of ‘65 when he wrote that article in Electronics Magazine where he said that the number of transistors we could put on a chip would double every year. This was what made semiconductor memory make sense when Intel started.
ZIERLER: Just the question about the motivations for Intel, about being independent versus creating new engineering.
JENKINS: Yeah. I think that Moore's Law, and looking at memory, one of the hard things about when you do a startup, is always the product definition, trying to come up with something that people will buy. The nice thing about memory is all you have to do is pick a power of two, and that's how big it's going to be. So, I think that was a factor, as well as Noyce. He was more into the commercial aspect of things across the board, and good at marketing and whatever else. He's probably the one that thought that this is probably the sweet spot where we should probably get in ahead of the herd and do that, so that was the motivation. They actually were doing it with two transistor technologies. I worked on the one, and Tom Rowe worked on the other one with—well, obviously we had teams help and working with us as well—getting the masking, the diffusion, and the deposition area going. By the way, I also had to work on the metal deposition because I'd had experience there and had a technician helping me. So I worked on that as well as the bipolar process.
ZIERLER: Ted, did the move to Intel require a physical relocation for you?
JENKINS: It did, actually. Not for hardly anybody else, but because I was going to be working with Carver, I actually moved down to Pasadena. I moved in with one of my classmates, Gerry Parker. He went all the way through his PhD with Carver. We were both in the same undergraduate class—good friends—and we had another friend, Jeff Wise, who came to Fairchild R&D with me. He got into the transducer section. I did that. Parker would come to work at Silicon Valley in the summer. I think he was working for HP one summer and some other, so we would collaborate on living space wherever we were. But yes, I was with Gerry Parker, and he was well aware. In fact, when I decided after about six months that we were running out of gas and being able to make progress, he's the one who actually replaced me for a while in that lab and worked on the zinc sulfide for a bit longer with Carver Mead after he got his PhD.
ZIERLER: What were the circumstances of Carver's partnership with Intel right from the beginning?
JENKINS: He thought that this was a good thing to start. He approached Gordon about funding it. I don't know exactly what all the details were, but obviously my salary was probably part of that, and other things. I think they knew that I had other skills besides what they were looking for. I think he probably got some stock for working on that as well, or for offering it. The other guy, Jim McCaldin, was really a good material scientist. He was also a Caltech professor. Later on, he ended up getting prostate cancer, but I think that was after Intel decided not to continue ahead with the zinc-sulfide. Parker actually ended up finding some improvements on making the diode more efficient, so we both kicked in there. There was work to do. Obviously today, that's the LED that we all use, but if you think about this, this was 60 years ago when we were trying to get this going.
ZIERLER: Were you full time in Pasadena? Would you travel up to headquarters frequently?
JENKINS: Not very much; more to see my girlfriend, Ginger. [laughs] I think trips were like $15 each way in those days, so I could go for the weekend if I wanted to. I didn't go every weekend, but if something was going on or whatever, I'd go up there. Also, the place we were renting was about three blocks from Colorado Boulevard, so Gerry and I actually had a New Year's Eve party there, and people stayed over, and we could walk up to see the Rose Parade the next morning.
ZIERLER: Was the office any bigger than just you? Were there any other people in the Pasadena Branch?
JENKINS: There were not. I think it was over on Walnut, and it was on the second floor, which was a little bit of a challenge because I had to get liquid nitrogen up there for the evaporation. We had one evaporation chamber and one little furnace we could use for diffusion, but that was about all we had. Actually, it really wasn't much of an office; it was really just more of a lab that I had, and I worked out of there pretty much all by myself. I would have lunch with Jim and Carver at least every other week, sometimes every week. I liked to go to Bob's Big Boy, which used to be right across from PCC there. [laughs]
ZIERLER: I assume the creation of the Pasadena office was simply the proximity to Carver. Was that the main motivation?
JENKINS: That's it. That's it.
ZIERLER: What was Carver working on that was so important to Intel at this point? What was the big strategy there?
JENKINS: I think it was getting a light source that was much more environmentally safe, but really, it was also a power consumption improvement. The LEDs are so much more efficient than filament bulbs. That was the whole idea, so that's what I think was the big opportunity.
ZIERLER: Was that effective for you, working on your own mostly? Is that how you do your best work?
JENKINS: It was okay. Most of the research that I had done was pretty much aimed at just what I was doing. The tasks that I was given on these individual devices, I could pretty much handle that. It didn't mean that I knew everything about what I needed for the project, but it in terms of doing the experiments, I could run several at a time and try and figure out what things we needed to do next. Yeah, I was pretty much on my own.
ZIERLER: Were you self-directed? Were people from HQ telling you what to do?
JENKINS: No, it was really more what Carver and Jim McCaldin would discuss. I actually figured out pretty early on how to make ohmic contact on zinc sulfide, which was really interesting. If you look at zinc sulfide, the forbidden gap is large enough you can actually see through it. It's an open crystal, a crystal that light passes through; how do you connect a wire to that? I was able to figure that out with some of my alloy and material science experience, and, we filed a patent for this
ZIERLER: What were your key achievements during the Pasadena years? What are you most proud of?
JENKINS: It was not a Pasadena year. It was six months for me.
ZIERLER: Just six months?
JENKINS: Yeah. The big one was figuring out that only contact, and the other one was just getting the lab set up. There was quite a bit of stuff to do just to bring it together. You talked about how most of my direction was from Carver and Jim, but Bob Noyce—and I know Gordon—they visited me probably twice while I was down there just to see what it was, and they would get briefings from Carver and Jim on where we were as well.
ZIERLER: Was the Pasadena six months? Was it meant to be that short lived? Or what were the circumstances of going back to HQ?
JENKINS: The circumstances were that I was working on this. I was going through, over and over, and getting this contact was pretty exciting, but we were having trouble getting the lighting part of it to—well, I was having trouble getting the lighting part of it to be more and more effective. So, I was telling Gordon, I said, "I'm not sure whether we're going to get there from here," and I said, "I think I might want to come back and help with the silicon developments." I think that was a big piece of it, but Carver and Jim weren't willing to give up, so they recruited this other guy to work there, Gerry Parker.
ZIERLER: And they continued on this work for Intel?
JENKINS: Yeah, for another six months, I want to say; probably something like that.
ZIERLER: Did anything come of that?
JENKINS: He did find some processing things about how to treat the surface of where you're going to put the metal device where the light would be made, and cleaned up some of that stuff, but it wasn't perfect. I think that's how it timed out; I don't know what the final story was because I was off doing other things, but it could have been Gordon talking with Carver and Jim, and they just decided whether or not to go further ahead.
ZIERLER: Ted, what was it like when you got back to Intel headquarters? What did you slide into at that point?
JENKINS: I was going back to work on semiconductor process development like I had before, and my assignment was the bipolar process, which was perhaps a little simpler than our MOS process. We had a little bit smaller memory product that we ultimately wanted to do. But it was pretty good; they had their fab area there, and I could process stuff through it. I actually had to, as I said, be responsible for the aluminum-deposition equipment with a technician that I had, but it was pretty much starting from scratch. It was kind of funny: they had a contest between Gordon Moore, Bob Noyce, and Andy Grove about being able to make an MOS capacitor that would be stable, and how to make a PN junction. These were just early tests to get the lab up and running. It might have been still going on when I was there, because they had to pull in all the equipment and everything else. But it was really interesting. When I talked to Gordon and Andy about that, Andy was the one who said, "Well, we want to do this. We want to use this process—your Schottky diode, Ted—that you came up with at Fairchild, and you don't have to gold dope the wafers, you should just have to put a metal-semiconductor junction in parallel with the collector-base junction, so that it doesn't forward bias when you switch all the way down." The gold was to make the lifetime of those minority carriers out there disappear so that the switch would be quicker, but the metal-semiconductor contact would keep any of those things from being emitted in there. It was fundamentally the quickest way you could make the switch, so they wanted to use that. So, that was fun—
[audio cuts out a few seconds]
Are you still there?
ZIERLER: Yeah, you just came back.
JENKINS: Oh. What did you miss?
ZIERLER: "That was fun" was the last thing that you said.
JENKINS: How long was I—
ZIERLER: Just a few seconds. It was really like your last sentence.
JENKINS: Oh, okay. I basically was challenged to put that together, and it went well and worked out fine.
ZIERLER: Ted, for the last part of our talk today, I'd like to ask for your sense of when Intel started to feel—I don't know if the term "startup" was in use at that point—but when did Intel start to feel like it was solid, that it would become this massively important company? Was it right from the beginning? Was there a transition period that you recall?
JENKINS: On the technology and operational side and everything else, I thought that went really great. The people that we had to run marketing, actually ended up having some difficulty, and we had to swap those out, and we actually ended up recruiting. So, from a sales side, we also were starting from scratch, because there weren't really any semiconductor memories out there, and we weren't as big as most of the memory needs, so a disk memory was really the biggest type that people could use. The semiconductor memory was a lot faster, so we had to get it scaled up. There was that part of it, but then there was also the part of figuring out how to sell it, and that was probably one of the larger challenges. It wasn't too bad, but we actually ended up making some workstations that would help people design the devices that they used for the system products they would provide. You really need marketing people to do that and to figure out how to define, or what parts of the systems would use this high speed, higher speed, maybe-not-as-dense memory. So, that needed work, and that took some time, but we ramped up pretty good, so that went pretty well. Then there were times when, early on, you get into where you're selling this product, a semiconductor is really on the front end of capital expenses in the business places, so it can be a little more volatile than the original basic cycle. You can look back on this COVID thing: we ended up buying a lot of computers when that first started, and now [laughs] people don't need them anymore, and they're going back to work, so they've got equipment and they don't need any new systems. It'll be a little back and forth. That was not something that we understood very well. We ended up hiring some people from—and I'm trying to remember exactly when that was. It probably wasn't super early on, because we used the original people that they hired from Fairchild to do that, but after a while, we did need to upgrade our marketing capability. But as a startup, it was a pretty good model.
ZIERLER: For you coming to headquarters, did you see that as putting your career on a trajectory of leadership? Was that a step up coming from Pasadena?
JENKINS: I wanted to be in a place where I could make a contribution. We really didn't have any structure there. I was the 22nd employee. You can take a look at that picture of us at 365 Middlefield Road. I can't remember exactly when that was taken. The management was, let's say, a little less formal. We did have one guy, Gene Flath; all the people that worked in the wafer-fab area worked for him. We had an MOS design guy, Les Vadasz; and we had a bipolar design group, Dick Bohn; and then we had some marketing guys. All of those operational people worked for Andy Grove, and just like when we were at Fairchild R&D, we'd write a monthly report on what we had done, and he would edit the report and then publish the whole deal as we would do it. So, it was pretty informal there. I would get emails—or, we didn't have any emails, but we would pass around notes. I would get some communications from him from time to time. As a joke, one time I wrote—I was working on something there, and I said, "So-and-so corroborated my results." And he said, "No, you mean collaborate." And then I wrote him back, and I said, "No, corroborate is a legitimate word," because I came across it when I was studying Latin in junior high school. Then he wrote me back, and he said, "Bastard is a legitimate word, too." [both laugh] We would have funny exchanges like that, and we were able to interact with him personally, even while we were all there in Mountain View, and then even after I went out to Livermore and ran that wafer fab there.
ZIERLER: Ted, last question for today: When you moved back to headquarters, did you remain in close contact with Carver? Was that important for you personally and for what Intel was doing at that point?
JENKINS: We did have some events. I wasn't communicating a lot. Obviously I thought that what we were working on was a little confidential, and I was busy doing that. I didn't need necessarily anything from him. He would come up for consulting, and he would usually have lunch with us, or with me and Jeff Wise, since we were the ones working there. He did come up one time, and he was having lunch with Gordon, and he said, "I would like to have my—could my students join us?" Jeff Wise and I, Carver, and Gordon Moore were there for lunch together. I can't remember—we didn't have a cafeteria at Fairchild R&D. Wait, maybe we did, but I think we went somewhere out for lunch. But we were talking about, that since Carver was there, I had just discovered this—well, this is when I was at Fairchild, but I still want to tell the story. That's where I told him that, "Hey, I was looking at this aluminum-silicon contact, and found this device, and it actually turns out to be a Schottky diode." He said, "What? How did you"—or Gordon said that, "What?! How did you—what did you do?" They were both pretty much amazed at that. But at Intel, I don't think Carver was doing any consulting for us; I would do it just based—there's a time when your connection with your alma mater, when you're first out of school, yes, you can do that. But when you have children and you get into that period of your life, then no connection with your alma mater goes on. When they can drive, then you reengage.
ZIERLER: There you go. I know all about that. [both laugh]
JENKINS: Yeah, you know all about that. Anyway, sorry about throwing that other story in there.
ZIERLER: No, not at all. Not at all.
JENKINS: But it was one way that stayed with Carver. It was more formal after that. I got Milton Chang to host, I think it was a 70th birthday party for Carver at his house in Silicon Valley. I would come and see him when I was on campus, but I wasn't on a lot of committees or anything else in those days, so it seemed too much.
ZIERLER: Ted, in our next conversation we'll pick up when you returned to Intel and the big projects there going forward. Yeah, go ahead. What?
JENKINS: You probably have a place to go, but one of the things that I did do is—I was talking to Robert Perkins about this—Carver got that—
ZIERLER: The Kyoto Prize, yeah.
JENKINS: One of the things that I did when I was running this fab area up there is, Carver asked me if I could process his wafers for him, and I said, "Yeah, I could do that." I didn't tell Gordon and I didn't tell any of the management at Intel that I was doing that. [laughs] This was around ‘73 or ‘74, but I processed all of them. I got an acknowledgement for processing his wafers from him in the book that he wrote with Lynn Conway about VLSI (very large scale integration).
[End of Recording]
DAVID ZIERLER: Okay. This is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Monday, December 12, 2022. It is great to be back with Ted Jenkins. Ted, as always, great to be with you. Thank you so much for joining.
TED JENKINS: You're welcome. You're welcome.
The Centrality of Carver Mead
ZIERLER: Ted, we're going to pick up right where we left off last time. The audio cut out, so we can just go back to fill in this story. What was it that prompted you to move back to Intel after those six months at Pasadena? Was this a personal choice? Were you called back? What was going on at that point?
JENKINS: The project that I've been working on, we made some progress. These are zinc-sulfide light-emitting diodes. It wasn't too long into the project where we solved the problem and figured out how to make an ohmic-contact to this semiconductor. When they talk about semiconductors, we have silicon and germanium, which are in column four of the elemental chart. Then they have 3-5 semiconductors, which are in those columns. Zinc sulfide is a 2-6. Anyway, the ohmic-contacts got a lot more difficult, but I got that solved. Then I'm working on trying to get better and better light performance out of that part of the project. It looked like we were getting to a point where it was not progressing rapidly enough, so I talked with Carver and Jim about that and told Gordon that I thought we were running out of gas, and that I'd like to come on back, probably back to Northern California. I was born and raised in Glendale, so Pasadena is close by. I would have been in the Bay Area for about five years by then—five or six years—and was interested in getting back up to Intel. They recruited me to work; they told me that my project would be working on the bipolar process that would ultimately end up being the process for Intel's first product, a 64-bit static random-access memory, or SRAM. The device number, or product number, was the 3101. That's not a very large memory by today's standards, [laughs] but we were just getting to the point where it looked like semiconductor memories were going to start replacing core memories, and that would go along. Then our MOS product, which was probably a more difficult process, was a 256-bit random-access memory, and it took a little longer to get going, but it worked out very well—good team. Some players actually worked on both devices.
ZIERLER: The other thing that you mentioned, where we wanted to pick up on was: When you got back to Intel headquarters, you were making some wafers for Carver. So, what was he after at that point? What was that project?
JENKINS: Yeah. That was after I'd been back a while. I came back to Intel in ‘69, probably the spring or early summer of ‘69, and that's when I started working on getting this process going. Intel didn't have any products for sale at that point in time. It was back when I did this process development and I worked in the wafer fab for a while, we had a little bit of a change. When started fab 2, which is down in Santa Clara, I stayed in Fab 1. Because we split the expertise up on those two wafer fabs, both of them had some processing problems. Ours were pretty straightforward, and I was able to resolve it pretty quickly in the original fab. Then the new one took them a little longer to get going. At any rate, I became the engineering manager for fab 1, went along here, and then ultimately, we wanted to start a third fab area, and we were trying to decide where to go. We didn't want to be where fab 1 and 2 were because they were close to the San Andreas Fault, and we thought we needed somewhere else. We ended up picking this Livermore site because it's about an hour and a half away. It's further from the San Andreas fault, not completely isolated, and out near the Livermore radiation lab that UC Berkeley runs. Anyway, we built that fab and started it in ‘73, but I want to say it was like ‘74 or ‘75 when Carver approached me about processing some wafers for him. Since I was running the fab area by myself—we were remote—I thought about it a little bit, and I thought, "Well, this is just a little bit of giving back. We're not talking about a huge amount of incremental expense here to do this," so I would process a run for him. Every six months or something like that, he'd have new students come along, or researchers, that would end up doing a design. They'd put several designs into one wafer, and I'd make a few wafers. It would be fine, but I didn't mention it to my management, or Bob, or Gordon. I just went ahead and did it because I thought it was a good idea. Later on, it came out, and it was not a problem. I didn't get any issues with that at all because I thought it was a good investment. But he was happy to have that; it didn't cost him anything. In the book that he and Lynn Conway wrote, my name is there in their acknowledgments in the front of the book. Not a huge thing, but just the fact that I processed the wafers for them at Intel.
ZIERLER: The processing of the wafers, was this related at all to Carver's coming work on VLSI?
JENKINS: It wasn't motivated by that or anything; it was just something that he asked for. I knew it would help with what he was doing, but yes, his students were designing circuits there that were on the wafers that I processed. I didn't know exactly what they did or anything else. One thing that was kind of funny though, they had some small areas on the wafer, or the on some of the chips, where they would make a picture of some mountains, and then they put the aluminum on top so it would look like they had snow on them. As you went through and processed the wafer, the picture would grow. The people in the fab area got kind of a kick out of processing and seeing what the visual was going to look like, but this was something you had to look at through the microscope.
ZIERLER: You mentioned that up until this point, even in the late 1960s, Intel had not brought anything to market. What was your sense of the timeline? Was that expected? Was there disappointment? Was everything going according to plan in that regard?
JENKINS: Oh no, that was fine. In fact, the first thing we started with, Andy Grove—he was kind of a chief operation officer then, and in charge of this research—he had a bet with Bob and Gordon about whether or not he could make an MOS capacitor that didn't have any impurities in it, that was stable, and also could make a diode, even a PNP or an NPN transistor. I can't remember exactly who won or lost, but there was big talk about it. It was just to get a little more emotion or excitement about what the team was doing, and it worked on that front. In terms of getting ready for a product, they didn't have anything defined, they didn't have any customers as far as I know, going there—I mean, I'm at the other end of the supply chain. The nice thing about going with the memory is, in terms of product definition, all you have to do is pick a power of two, and that's your device. So, ours was 64; then there was a 256; after that, we did a 1024 because that gives you a perfect-square matrix of memory cells.
ZIERLER: You said that up until this point, Intel was developing products for internal use. What does that look like? Does that mean for its own research that it was doing things that were only relevant to what Intel needed at the time? What does all that look like?
JENKINS: Oh, it was very simple. We were just trying to get the process going so we could start supplying products and get going as a business. It was really just the development of a couple of novel processes. Or even if they weren't novel, we were in this brand-new factory, and you've got to run tests and see if you can get the things going, and get the products working. In terms of testing for whether or not we were in good shape, we just had curve tracers that we could probe on the wafer and then see whether the device—the transistor—was working the way it was supposed to. But it was just a matter of building along like that, then getting the circuit design done for the mask making. Then you'd have the masks made, and then we could start processing these devices to see if they would work.
A funny story about the 64-bit SRAM was, this is back in the day when the masks were made by—we would carve—we had this stuff called rubylith. It was plastic with a thin red film on top. You would go through slice out areas, and then you would have to peel this red layer off, and then you use that patterned plastic sheet of one circuit to make a mask of all the circuits on the wafer to make direct contact with the wafer that had the photolithography material on it. Then we'd develop that, and then we'd etch it the way we wanted to. One of the things that happened was when our 64-bit transistors came out, it was a 63-bit because somebody had failed to peel one of the sections of this red layer off in that area, so we didn't get the feature we were supposed to have there. That was kind of a kind of an interesting start to the whole thing. So, for the next products, I would take the masks and look at them and draw a circuit diagram from them to see whether it had turned out. Nowadays, they don't do that anymore. It was these big sheets of plastic with this layer on it that the designers would do to match their circuit design, and then that would be the pattern that made the devices. Anyway, we were going through that whole process. The only need we had for the work we were doing was to get our process developed and get our production levels, then figure out what it would take to increase the volume.
ZIERLER: Ted, it's sort of a chicken and the egg question, but as Intel was forging these advances, did it already sense that there was a specific need in business for these applications, for these memory capabilities? Or was it more about creating the capacity, creating the functionality and the need would follow that? How does that work?
JENKINS: I think the need was already there. We were talking about how there were computers and everything like that. The basic thesis of our startup was that we could replace—this could become a high volume of the memory in the computers that we had. To start with, it would be not super huge because we were getting into the mode where we were using disk memory, not so much—the core memory was the stuff that we were really replacing. That's the smaller memory, the faster access that's right around the CPUs and the peripheral devices. The big storage in these machines would last for a long time as a disk memory. We weren't replacing those. At that point time, we were going into the intermediate memory. There was a huge demand for those things because they used a lot of the core memory, and we were going to replace that with all of the electronics that we did.
ZIERLER: Ted, who were some of the initial clients? Who bought the first marketable products at Intel put out there?
JENKINS: We were engaged with—it took a while to get IBM, so they were not one of the first ones, but I worked with that customer later on. Since I wasn't at that end of the business, I'm trying to remember. There was one back east that made, not the huge computers, but smaller computers. They were in the Boston or Massachusetts area. I'll have to think about that and let you know, but it was the larger. One of the projects that led to getting into the microprocessor businesses, we had a Japanese calculator company, who wanted to get some custom chips. One of our guys invented some chips that could be programmed with different mask sets, different interconnects, etc, so that they could be multi-purposed and we could make their whole needs with just a couple of chips. Ted Hoff was the guy who came up with that. That is the design that really helped us get the microprocessor started and done at Intel. For that, we did make a lot of ancillary support devices, workstations, and everything else where people could program their devices with the commands that we had inside. That wasn't too much later, but it was one of the things that Intel is well known for. Marcian E. Hoff is his name—M-a-r-c-i-a-n Edward Hoff. He's the one that did those designs, and really started the microprocessor that ultimately led to calculators, personal computers, and those devices We didn't invent the personal computer, but we made the device that would help it go, and one of the other big competitors on that was Motorola. In those days, they had a nice microprocessor as well.
ZIERLER: Ted, it's amazing to think we associate Intel with extraordinary success in all of the wealth that it generated. The idea that it took a while before any of its products actually came to market, did that register with you? Did you have a clear sense of when it went from a venture that was running on investments and hopes, to really becoming a successful company whose products were in demand? What did that transition feel like for you?
JENKINS: Our timing was pretty good. One of the guys that had to have been a big factor—and I wasn't there for the discussions about what products we were going to do—but we did take an advanced MOS process. It was one with a silicon gate, which was a little new; a lot of the previous MOS's all had aluminum gates. This allowed some higher density that we could do, so that was advanced technology. The process that I did with the Baker clamps instead of gold doping, with the Schottky diode that I told you about earlier wasn't in the commercial space yet either, so we had a couple of advanced technologies that we're doing. Then we were doing these memories, and we would basically make the biggest ones we could. That related to what the defects were in the wafers that we could do. I think we were right at the sweet spot at the right point in time. Once we started putting these products out there, they just got sucked up. In a lot of ways, it seemed really simple. Marketing was probably one of the bigger challenges. I don't know what the dating on that was, but we had some original guys involved that I think had been at Fairchild, and there were some problems. I don't know what had caused or how we turned that over, but then we ended up getting some people from Texas Instruments that came and did the marketing and sales for us because they had a lot of good experience. That was Ed Gelbach. Hank O'Hara, and Jack Carsten. Those were the famous guys, or the well-known guys that, we got from Texas Instruments.
ZIERLER: Ted, of course, it was in 1969 when ARPA created the Internet. Did that register at Intel? Did you recognize how important this would be for future developments?
JENKINS: Not so much. First of all, DARPA was a defense development, and it wasn't really so public. There was a point in time when—I guess that was after we had these personal computers where—but you would just log on to your telephone line with a modem. [laughs] You didn't have any fancy networks with higher bandwidth. You could put a page of data through there, but that was probably about it when we first started with that. The other thing that was going on, and I think I mentioned this before, but I got an amateur radio license when I was in junior high school, so that was 8th grade. Quite frankly, obviously Morse code wasn't that fast, but we also could talk over those over distances, so that was still the main medium of connecting and computing. The way the Internet got going was with email, and that went on for quite a while and basically wasn't a huge thing. When we started at Intel, we sent memos around in these full letter envelopes, and they had whole lines on there, and you would just write the name of the next person that was going to get the envelope of the stuff you put in there, put it in the outbox, and then somebody would come by and distribute them around like that. After a while, we did get into email online, but that was really after we got some better Internet connections.
ZIERLER: Ted, you mentioned some of the challenges in marketing just in terms of describing what Intel was doing. What's the bigger story there in terms of how far ahead Intel was that it really needed to explain to the public, potential clients, what it was capable of producing?
JENKINS: Yeah. There are two elements of marketing, or at least two that I wanted to mention here. The big one is—and this is, in a lot of cases, the limitation on a lot of startups—that is the product definition. Because people get excited about some technology that they have, and they say, "Oh! I'm going to make a startup!" But the key challenge is, how are you going to configure and define products that customers want to purchase. If you don't do that you're going to have trouble growing. The thing that was lucky for us is that it was about the time that we were going to go from these core memories to the semiconductor memory, so that part worked out very well. It also ended up generating some incremental demand. There was some military demand that also helped; but those products had to work at and be more reliable at higher temperatures. That's what went on mostly there. The value was basically the capability of these memory circuits compared to the core memory, and that's probably what just drove the whole business over the edge and allowed us to grow up.
ZIERLER: Let me ask a more general question. What were some of the real technical challenges in developing the semiconductor memory?
JENKINS: Let's see. In the technology, as I said, we did a couple of innovations there. Mine, that diode that I talked about, that thing worked fine for me. All I really had to do was go back and figure out how long to—on bipolar, you have to take your wafer, you've got to put some good conductive n-type stuff in the bottom, then you've got to grow some epitaxial wafer growth which puts on the medium that you're going to make your transistors. Then you have to diffuse some a P type region around those to isolate them. All that was pretty much standard, so really, all I had to do was take the test circuit and get the transistors to work, and then we were pretty much ready to go there. The other thing we had to do was get a fancy machine to do that deposition. We also had to get it all hooked together and make sure that our wafer processing area was clean. Because of the size circuits we were doing, probably only about 20% of the ones on the wafer would be any good because there was some kind of random defect that was in there from the photolithography, or a piece of debris, or something would cause problems. We had what are called laminar-flow hoods with clean air coming through, so those were good, but we didn't have our people wear bunny suits until the fab the area that I started in Livermore. We did that first with fab 3. That was the spring of ‘73 when we started processing wafers there. That was a good step in the right direction. But really, nobody else was doing that. Later on, we went into projection printing as opposed to contact printing. That happened in the early ‘70s. Those kinds of process innovations really helped a lot in that period of time. In the MOS area, that was all brand new. A lot of the structure we hadn't used in the past, so that was a little more challenging to do, but it worked out fine. They came along. They were, I about six months behind me.
ZIERLER: Tell me about setting up shop at Livermore. Why was that necessary?
JENKINS: We needed to expand the wafer capacity. As I said earlier, one of the things was we wanted to at least consider the external threats to our manufacturing areas. One was the possibility of an earthquake, so since fab 1 and fab 2 were in Silicon Valley, we looked at a place down on the coast, or out in Livermore. It was about an hour and a quarter drive out there, so we thought that would be a little bit better place to do it. It turned out to be a great idea. As time went on, it timed out because it wasn't big enough for the fabs that we ultimately needed. I can't remember when it turned down. I was there a couple of years, and then I got a promotion and came back to Silicon Valley for a while.
ZIERLER: I wanted to ask about the promotion and ultimately the leadership that you achieved at Intel. When did you feel like that trajectory really started? What was the promotion that you felt like you were really on that path at Intel?
JENKINS: Probably the one that surprised me the most—well, when they started fab 2 and I became engineering manager at fab 1, that felt pretty good. I thought I made a pretty good contribution with the circuits that I'd done, so that was okay. But probably the one that was the biggest one in my career was being selected as plant manager of fab 3, because this was a fab that cost us over $1,000,000 to build, and probably a good fraction of that was the equipment inside. We had 10,000 square feet of fab space. It was one of these events where, at 29, and then being away from headquarters, I said, "God, I'm out here on my own." I ultimately got to something around 300 people working there. We had about six engineers and four or six supervisors out on the floor. That fab was probably responsible for, I want to say at least a third, maybe a half of the company's revenue at that point in time. I said, "That's pretty exciting for a 29 year old." [both laugh] My daughter had just been born at the same time, in the spring of ‘73, so yeah, it was interesting. I was there for two to two and a half years, and then I was promoted again to leading all of wafer fabrication, and that was kind of exciting. That was right at the end of ‘75, and that was also an exciting thing.
At that point though, after a year or two, they ended up kind of splitting it. I was only running half of the wafer fab; another guy was running the other half, which wasn't a problem, but it was a change. Not too long after that, they asked me to—and I think they were just looking at developing their staff—they asked me to work for guy named Dave House who was running the Microprocessor Division. I worked for him doing what I would call more of the back-end manufacturing. That doesn't mean I was running assembly and tests, or anything like that, but I had what we call product engineers that would design the testing. When products were being developed, they came out. They had to get that part of it working and then look at the reliability and do all of that kind of testing. I ran that part of it, but the biggest part of my staff was these product engineers that were working on the products that were being developed. They had to work on the testing for the wafers as well as the assembled products. It also involved the circuit designers, but they were in a different department. Those are the units that were part of the different segments of the organization that had to work together. This gave me some experience in that area, and I did that up until ‘85. Actually, after that manufacturing/development job, I became responsible for the peripheral-component operation, which was: in a PC, there was the microprocessor; that was one part of Dave House's organization. Then these peripheral components were another part. While there was one microprocessor circuit, there were seven circuits around the microprocessor that had other functions in a PC. One was a memory controller; another was serial data communication, and several other Microprocessor interface chips. In that group was the first time we ended up developing a—we didn't develop it, but the Israeli design did—it was an Internet chip that would process Internet and give a connection to that memory chip. Then they had another communication chip that went in multiple parallel connections. Anyway, I had all those chips and ran that part of the business, but running it really meant that you were processing, getting the testing up and running, getting the wafer testing, getting the chip testing, getting the reliability done that checks all those issues. So, that was pretty good.
Then in ‘85, I brought that group out to the Folsom site. That was the second group that came out here. The memory group had already come out there. Most of our memory chips by then were EPROMs or flash-memory devices, and we were working on some other technologies. I was out there for a year, and then the guy that was running the Memory Division, George Schneer, wanted to come back to the Bay Area. I ended up getting recruited to follow him. That moved me up a step and promoted me to VP. I was working for Andy Grove, who was VP of operations, so I ran the Memory Division for four years. After that, they asked me to become the VP and Director of Corporate Licensing, so I did that the last 10 years of my career. I worked for Tom Dunlap, the general counsel, and I made sure our patent filing policy was good and set up a recognition program for those people that had filed patents. We gave money to people for patent filing—a little bonus, I think it was a couple hundred dollars. Then, we added different committees with the different product groups to talk about what kind of technologies they were developing. Because to be successful in licensing and protecting your intellectual property, you have to have people that understand the marketplace, because that ends up being the exposure of the other person's product to your IP. Then you need to know the law, because that's patent law, of course. Then you have to understand the technology because a patent has to be novel, and it can't have been developed or out there in the public before you file your patent.
ZIERLER: Ted, what were some of the debates in the 1970s about the overall strategic direction of Intel, both in terms of microprocessors and microcomputers? What were the ideas about where to go?
JENKINS: I'm trying to think about that. To a certain extent, we didn't do a strategic long-range plans until later. What we did was just follow the marketplace and supply what they did. We did do one thing in there, which we tried, that didn't get too successful. It was one of the things I worked on earlier in my career, after being the engineering manager for fab 1. Bob Noyce decided that our technology were getting ready to do—we did decide to do a complementary MOS technology. Our first technology was PMOS, then the next one was NMOS. We had those two, but that was just one kind of transistor, not complementary ones. Then we did go to a complementary MOS, which was lower power and higher performance, but it also had the capability of being battery powered and low power, and for the watches. So, we had a watch business that we that we tried ourselves, called Microma, M-i-c-r-o-m-a. I actually developed the CMOS process for that because we had to have lower thresholds on the devices, and they had to be low power. It was basically our standard CMOS process, but we had to get down to lower voltages, lower thresholds, so it involved a number of changes. To get that to happen, we had to have an ion accelerator to put this doping into the chip. I got the first one of those at Intel and did the work on that part of the process. That was kind of interesting because it put in very light amounts of the minority carriers, or the doping carriers that we needed. So, it was kind of interesting. I got through that pretty well, and that worked out, but I don't think we ever really got going with the watch business. That's really more of a consumer-oriented thing, but I still have some Microma watches that—[laughs]
ZIERLER: Oh, wow!
JENKINS: Anybody that was there in those days probably got a watch, because every five years they would give you an award, and depending on your tenure, you would get a reward. The watches worked fine, and the battery lasted. All of that was just a matter of how you market and sell it, which was out of our range, but it was a fun project.
Globalizing Chip Competition
ZIERLER: Ted, when did Intel start to become really an international company, both in terms of manufacturing, developing plants around the world, and when it started to develop an international market—that these were products that would be valuable worldwide, not just in the US?
JENKINS: We did the marketing first. The first company—I think it was a Japanese company called Visicom—they're the one that we did those first chips for that I talked about, with Marcian Hoff. So, that was an international thing. By the way, the sales went internationally before any of the manufacturing did, so that was one. We got into Europe; we had some business with Siemens, the German company. I'm trying to think of others that we might have used. Fortunately, probably our best, our biggest targets were here in the United States. We did do something that was pretty interesting: We started a design center in Israel. The Israeli population was pretty much underemployed. A lot of those people went there because they were Jewish, and a lot of them were well educated or educated beyond what the market there needed, so we ended up putting a design center there. We were able to recruit some pretty strong people, and we got significant tax incentives as well. As I mentioned, that Ethernet chip that we did over there was done at that design center. Ultimately, we ended up putting two wafer fabs there.
When I was in the Memory Division, that design center reported to me, so I made a couple of trips to Israel, which was really, really interesting. I've got some funny war stories about that. Having come from the United States where our total history, except for the Native American Indians, was basically a couple-hundred years in terms of where it was; you get to a place like Israel which has been occupied for millennia, and every knob there has some history, name, stories. So, it was quite a mind-bending experience to visit that. Anyway, part of the reason we got there was, the guy that invented the EPROM for us, which was the one that had the static memory that would sit there and work as a storage device even when it didn't have power, his name was Dov Frohman. I think it was Dov Frohman-Bentchkowsky. He worked at Fairchild R&D and was an Israeli. As we got into it, he's the one that made the connections and where we could get some government stimulus, et cetera, to put that design center there. That was probably one of the early overseas things that we did. The other one from a manufacturing standpoint: The first thing we did out of the country was assembly and test in Mexico. We only did that for a while. Ultimately, we ended up putting it over into Malaysia, then later on added the Philippines. Now they have another one in China. Then we started doing wafer fabs outside the US. We did a couple in Israel, and later on we did one in Ireland, really driven by the kinds of governmental incentives that were available to get these things set up. I don't know where they all are now, but that was kind of a limit to what we had when I retired.
ZIERLER: Ted, you mentioned some of the competitors to Intel in the 1970s. In what ways was that good for Intel—having other companies in a race to produce the best products, the best devices?
JENKINS: Back in that era, I was kind of a conservative, and I liked the open marketplace. What that does, it's a little bit Darwinian, is the survival of the fittest. If you're really doing well, that's pretty much it, and we were. We had some advanced technologies. We were performing pretty well. We were doing things that companies like Motorola and Texas Instruments were behind. We were doing these memories larger than any other people were, and we were moving along really pretty well there. The personal computer business really helped us get going with the microprocessor. We ended up having a pretty good relationship with Dell, and that's one that's still going on, but it started at IBM. One of my assignments, I had the responsibility of interfacing with IBM about the business of our chips. I wasn't the salesperson, or they didn't work for me, but there was one that when they would come to the factory, I was responsible for interfacing with them and also was involved in negotiating the agreements we did with them for the few years that I did this. What was the question again? Have I answered that or not?
ZIERLER: Yeah, just the idea that competition was good for Intel, that it spurred Intel to do things that might not have been possible otherwise.
JENKINS: Yeah, I think so. We wanted to stay ahead. Probably one of the best things that we did was in a marketing program. We would not have used this name later on because of possible antitrust issues—and we didn't do anything illegal—but we called it the "crush campaign." We wanted to make sure we could get our microprocessor out there—sold—and we were a little bit behind the timeline of Motorola because they were already established in a few places. Once you get established, it's easier to stay because you could make sure that your products are compatible with each other as opposed to starting from scratch. We put together a monitor business where you had a workstation that you could set up, and program your devices for the kinds of activities that you wanted to do. Those would really help people configure their system so that they could use our products. We did that, and it was pretty novel; I don't think the other companies were doing that much. We had what we called application engineers. They were about 10% of our sales force. They were people that could be the engineers of our customers. So, with those things going on, we really did do a campaign that pushed this through. The ones that did it were—one of our Trustees, Bill Davidow, and Dave House were both the marketing guys that worked this crush campaign with these workstations, and whatever else we needed to do to get our parts designed in. That worked out pretty well, as well.
One of the interesting things was, when I told you about this ‘86 promotion where I took over the memory business, that put me on the executive committee. Andy Grove had a test that he put out there on what percent of Intel's business was memory versus microprocessors. At that point in time, I think I said it was equal, which it was. Dick Boucher, the guy that started the watch business, said it was microprocessors, and almost everybody else said it was memory because that's what we had been doing. It turns out I was really right at 50/50, and that's why Andy wrote the question about it. Most of the general managers didn't realize that microprocessors had come along that quickly, and had now matched the memory division.
ZIERLER: Ted, you mentioned IBM, and then of course, Dell. Did it register with you when Apple Computer was created? Did that change what Intel was doing? The kinds of things that it would make possible?
JENKINS: Yes, it would. Their first devices had the Motorola device in it, so in a way—I'm trying to think of who might have been the first personal computer company. It was probably Microsoft. Yeah, they were the ones. They had all the software and everything else, so that's how we kind of launched up and got to helping the PC business run pretty well before Apple came over and started using the Intel products. I used to refer to them as the "other religion." [laughs] That was a big competition for a while. The thing that was interesting is—I have to give Jobs a lot of credit for this because they did a lot of really good brainstorming about what the personal features should be. If you kind of look back there, to run a PC you have to have a little more engineering sort of orientation to do that. The Apple equipment was a little bit better designed for personal interface. One of the things I didn't like about it at the time was that they organized your pictures for you. I liked to make my own folders and put my pictures where I wanted them, so I kind of liked the PC for a while. But both of those products have come along. In the early days, Steve Jobs' work of getting the personal interface on a good level allowed them to sell down to people that were a little less experienced. That was just temporary involvement with Motorola, but it was nice when they finally came around and took the Intel circuits. Then, after a while, they decided to go off to some others that were a little bit lower powered. But now, with these foundries like TSMC, a lot of system companies are just designing their own chips because they can.
ZIERLER: Did Intel lose that competition to Motorola for Apple? Or was this the opportunity for Motorola and Intel to really define who their distinct clients would be?
JENKINS: No, Motorola had it before we did because—I don't know exactly the time scale there—their chips clearly weren't as good as ours, but it was there a little earlier, so that's the one that Apple used to get theirs going.
ZIERLER: Ted, when did Intel achieve a level of financial success where you felt that financial security?
JENKINS: Pretty early on. The other thing that was kind of interesting—I should have mentioned this earlier—all of the exempt employees at Intel got stock options when they were hired. Or, all of the engineering people; the finance people did too—if you had an exempt position. But it wasn't for secretaries or custodians or the hourly staff. You had to have a college degree, or have a job that you didn't get paid overtime; that's what exempt means here in California. It made everybody think about the total shares that they granted when you were hired. You had to be here a year to buy a fourth of them, another year to buy the next fourth, and another. It was really one of these ways to help people share in the success of the company and to keep them committed to staying there, as opposed to turning over. I think it did that pretty well because as we got going through there, the company was pretty successful. I can't remember when we had a public offering, but the stock peaked at it's all time high, I want to say in 2000, up at about $70. The way the stock went was really the other thing you thought about for your success because that's how we all got our share of the success of the company.
ZIERLER: Ted, on that point, I want to rewind the clock a little bit because I'm curious the circumstances when you join the Caltech Associates back in 1974. Was that your first foray into serving on boards of directors, philanthropy, and organizations. Or were you already involved in those worlds at that point?
JENKINS: No, I hadn't thought about it too much. We used to do things for the Salvation Army and other nonprofits. In high school and early college, I went to the Methodist Church in Glendale and sang on the choir. The high school choir would cover the 9:00 service, so I got used to philanthropy at the church. That was the first place that got to me to think about that. I didn't think about it so much in my early days just because you're trying to figure out how to get a home and raise your kid. I guess you get a little bit of time there to engage with your alma mater before the kids are born, but after they're born, you're kind of off the grid for [laughs] a period of time—I'm sure you understand this.
ZIERLER: All too well, all too well.
JENKINS: But then when they get out there—when I joined the Associates, it was one of those things that I just wanted to do because of my Caltech experience. The other thing that encouraged me to do that is, you can give appreciated stock and write off the whole amount. Then you don't have to pay the capital gains taxes to get the value effect on it. So early on, that was part of my thought process about what to do. You just pass along some of the Intel stock to some of the charities that you want. That's a little bit how I got into it, but I'm trying to think; I'm not sure when I joined the Associates. What did you say it was, ‘75?
ZIERLER: I think it was ‘74, actually.
JENKINS: Okay, all right. One of the things that I wanted to do was check that box, because back in those days, you also had to pay to join the Alumni Association. That was about $500 for a life membership, which is what I did. Now, they just take everybody in there. Then I wanted to join the Associates because it has a great history. Back in those days, I could get a lifetime membership for that as well, so I basically coughed up the money to do that so that I was in there. That allows you to be a member of the Athenaeum; if you're out of out of the territory, you could come and pay per visit—a piece of it. I really liked being there. They had really good travel trips as well. A lot of the Caltech travel that I went on was Associates driven. The first trip I went on was alumni—the Alumni has good trips as well, but I like the Associates. It was probably a tighter group, and a lot of the same people would visit, would go on the trips, and it was really, really fun. Plus, they had events up here in the Bay Area, because as you go in and you look at the demographics of the different places, the next place outside of Caltech that has a lot of Associates is the Bay Area, and most of those are alumni. In the in the LA area, only about 20% of the Associates are alumni. It's other people nearby that want to have an affiliation with Caltech, so that's nice.
ZIERLER: Ted, of course being an Associate allows that connectivity; it allows you to give back. Is being a Caltech Associate, even in those early years, was it good for your career to forge those connections, to see what other alumni were up to?
JENKINS: I like the networking. A lot of it was social, but there were some connections. We did have a committee up here in the Bay Area that was of the Associates, and I was pretty involved in that at the time, until I got involved as a Trustee. That sort of took over my Caltech interconnect, but I do go to all the Associate events up here that I can. It's a little bit harder from Sacramento because I've got to drag down to the Bay Area, but I do like that. As a past president, all of their board meetings are open to all the past presidents. When I first became a Trustee, I stayed involved in that, but as things got busier, I just didn't do that as much. I do have a compassion for what the Associates are doing and how they're operating, so I like it. You know the history, right? It was started in 1926 over at Henry Huntington's mansion. They paid for some people to join just so they could have their names involved with it, which is kind of fun, but it ended up being a really successful auxiliary to Caltech.
The Generational Partnership Between Caltech and Intel
ZIERLER: Did you get involved in recruitment at all? Were there opportunities to bring incredible Caltech students into Intel over the years?
JENKINS: Yes, I did. As we talked about it, I was the executive sponsor for the connection with Caltech for quite a period of time while I was still working at Intel. Yes, we at Intel would go set up interviews at different schools around, all the way through the Big Ten, in the Midwest, and other good schools that we could visit, such as MIT or other good technical schools. But yes, I would interface sometimes when they'd have career meetings at Caltech. They'd have a variety of companies there that were available for the students to come around and talk to if they were getting ready to go to work. And they had a career center. It was a little bit tougher earlier on. Because of its excellence and small size, there was an orientation in the faculty and the career center that you really should go on and get your PhD and become a professor or researcher someplace so we could get fame that way. As an engineer, I really wanted to go work in business, so that's what I did, but there were times when it was hard to get the career center's attention as much as I'd like to, just because they were spending more of their time with other universities, trying to get their PhDs out as post-docs and their undergrads going onto grad school. So, it was a little bit of challenge, but it worked out great. I got a number of people. As I said earlier, there was a time when we had six Caltech alumni as officers at Intel. That was early on. I probably spilled out these names before, but Gerry Parker, Bill Davidow, Gordon Moore—he's a PhD student there—myself, and another guy named Albert Yu—unfortunately, he's passed away. But all those people were alumni.
In fact, this brings a funny story to me. This is early on at Intel. I'm driving into our very first facility. I've got one of the little round Caltech stickers on the back window of my mustang that I bought my master's year because I had money left over from what I needed for college. Anyway, Bill Davidow sees the sticker on there. We happened to be getting out of the car at the same time. He said, "Hey Ted, I'm really impressed that you went to Caltech." I said, "Yeah, it was really good. I had a great experience, and it really helped me do what I needed to do here." He said, "Well, I went there after Dartmouth, and I got through my master's degree, but I decided I wasn't quite capable of finishing this off, so I had to go off to Stanford." [both laugh] So Davidow's a one-year alumni, but obviously a great colleague at Intel later on, but always in marketing, as opposed to the process end where I was.
ZIERLER: Ted, just a technical question: In the late 1970s and early 1980s, when you had leading positions in "peripheral components and manufacturing," what does that mean in the corporate vernacular? What does "peripheral" mean in this context?
JENKINS: "Peripheral" means peripheral to the microprocessor. In a PC you had a microprocessor, and then you had about six circuits around it for all of the interfacing that it needed to do with the different areas, like memory, memory controller, the serial communications connection, the parallel communications connection, the clock circuit, these other things. Those were the peripherals. The chips weren't as big as the microprocessor, but you could say that the electronic functionality was significant, probably equivalent. But yeah, that's what it was.
ZIERLER: In the early 1980s, as PCs were catching on, was the growth faster in business or among personal users?
JENKINS: That's a good question. I am not sure. It was probably businesses, although I bought mine for personal use. Intel had workstations for us to use there as well, but it was really like a cathode-ray tube [laughs] and a keyboard. But yes, it probably was commercial, then it started going more personal. The people started getting them at home later on. I'd say, yes, it went through the business first, and then we started getting them.
ZIERLER: Tell me about taking the Peripheral Components Division and relocating it to Folsom.
JENKINS: That was interesting. One of the things that we needed to do was, as time went on—we'd do this facility out in Livermore. We ended up, when I was running Wafer Fab, we built a fab area—Fab 4—up near Portland, Oregon. It was in a place called Aloha; it was a little bit west of town. The whole thought here was that the living expenses in the Bay Area were kind of high, and it hurt our ability to recruit talent from different parts of the country, especially incoming new college graduates, or NCGs as we used to call them. We thought we'd get some growth, also just getting the operators for our fab areas. Obviously, those wage rates were lower. People really couldn't afford the living expenses in those areas. We couldn't grow it the way we wanted to, so we ended up putting these around. The idea was that they were a one-hour flight away. We could get there and back in a day if you needed to go visit and interface. Likewise, down in Arizona, Phoenix was where we put the other fabs and businesses. That gave us some places where we could recruit from around the country, and they could afford to stay there, so that was the drive behind it. Then the one here in Folsom, it was only about 2.5 hours away, so it was possible to get out here. One of the things that we did is we chartered airplanes, and they would go to and from. They'd start in Sacramento early in the morning, and fly down to San Jose, then we had a shuttle that brought people that needed to get to Silicon Valley for a day—meetings or whatever—then they could head home that evening. One of the things that I did, I decided not to move back to the Bay Area when I took that licensing job, but my wife and I didn't want to get priced out of the Bay Area, so we kept our house in Los Altos Hills. I would fly down Monday morning and fly home Tuesday evening, and I would spend the night. I'd spend Monday night in the Bay Area and Thursday night in the Bay Area, and I could be down there four days of the week. I only needed to fly down one day and back the next day, and I covered two days down there pretty completely.
ZIERLER: When you were named general manager of the Memory Components Division, was that your first job as a vice president at Intel?
JENKINS: Yes, it was. I was trying to [remember], did I get a vice president? I guess I did because George had one, so yes, that was my first shot at it. I felt good about that. I kind of felt that when I was running Wafer Fab, I probably should have had one, but it's all right.
ZIERLER: Did that give you a broader view of Intel at the strategic level as a corporation, the kinds of things it was doing?
JENKINS: I was on what we called the executive committee, so I did get to see a little bit more of that—the higher-level issues, the ones that Andy Grove brought up. But there are some things that I did. I'm going to walk back a ways here. One of the things that Andy said earlier on—and I can't remember when it was, maybe he highlighted this in his Only the Paranoid Survive—but he said, "We're going to be a learning company." We were very well data intensive. We always had lots of data. That's how we told whether our experiments had come out well, or whatever else—and that was his culture as well. He was very direct. I saw this even when I was a Fairchild. He would confront you and talk about results. If you were talking about some data, he said, "Well, what about this?" and "What about this?" and "What about this?" We met once in the hallway at Fairchild R&D with some others where he pushed pretty hard to get the details of your work. The other thing is, I don't think he really got into—and that was at Fairchild R&D, so we didn't need much business experience there, but as we got to Intel, he wanted to learn more about management and other kinds of things.
We had this thesis back then; we called it "One Riot, One Ranger." It's the old Texas Ranger motto. [laughs] We would send somebody out to a conference, and when they came back they would teach the rest of us what they learned. I went to one on motivation, and it had "management by objectives" in there. Peter Drucker had come up with this, but he. What it did was open that whole window of making forecasts about where you were going, when you would get there and what you're results would be, which would be really helpful for business. We would measure everything: The yield on our chips, the cost of the wafers, how many wafers got through, and other factors. We did not have a mission statement or objectives that we would try and hit with key results underneath them, so that was the whole subject I taught. Because of our data orientation, we just sucked that right up and started doing it. Then, everybody and every department had to have a mission statement, objectives, and key results for the quarter. We would do this a quarter at a time, and we had monthly reviews on these. What that did for us was help us hone our forecasting skills because we never really had to do that. But now, when you're running a business and you want to see where you're going with the money and all that other stuff, that's the kind of thing that you had to do. We did a number of those.
Probably one of our best classes was on how to plan, organize, and run a meeting because you used to have these staff meetings where you just go, meet up, and wander. "Well, what are we going to talk about today?" Obviously, we'll talk about operational stuff that we need to do, but nobody makes any preparation. The other thing we did on the meeting one was, you were really expected to be there within the first couple of minutes, certainly by five, because if you've got 10 people and you're 10 minutes late, that's one and a half man hours of labor that you've lost. [laughs] Actually, the general counsel that I worked for, we got into a mode. He would ask you to send all the materials out for your meeting 24 hours ahead, and if you didn't do that, he'd make you cancel the meeting. Because what you need to do is get that stuff out there, get people to read it, take a look at it, think about where they're going; and you probably get half your meeting done before you ever get together. So, that learning process worked out for us. Because of growing, we were very disciplined. Some other cliche that he did was, "We don't sweep our problems under the rug. We get them out, we glorify them, and we solve them." We also taught a course in constructive confrontation. Got a problem? Another cliché: "Praise publicly. Confront privately." If people weren't getting along, go off one on one and have a meeting. Talk about the behaviors that are an issue, and then figure out what you should do going forward that's best for the enterprise. This had a big impact on our culture. In fact, I keynoted Andy a couple of times. I said, "I don't think there's any other corporation whose culture is more an extension of an individual's personality than Intel's is of Andy Grove."
ZIERLER: Oh, wow! Wow. How would you describe that personality, understanding Intel at the corporate level? What does that mean for you?
JENKINS: It really helped us perform better than we otherwise would have, and gets everybody on board. The other thing is, we also, in one of these motivational courses, taught Maslow's hierarchy of psychological need. People, once you get your food, clothing, and a place to live, the next thing you need is social. Then you want esteem; you want to be well known for things that you have done. Then it's self-actualization. If you recognize people for things that they've done, especially if they're in the key results or whatever, that'll get them better motivated to keep going. In a lot of ways, people don't work entirely for money. They work for getting achievements done and recognition.
ZIERLER: Ted, in leading the Memory Components Division, was that the biggest division of Intel at that point? Was that really the core of Intel's business?
JENKINS: It was just as I did it, but as I said, we were—Grove would call it an "inflection point" we were going through. Microprocessor was taking off, and the potential was larger for those. The financial margins were going to be better for those. Later on, I used to say, "It's hard to work next to rich neighbors." [laughs] So, it's one of those things. Yeah, things change. We were still growing very well in the Memory Division. When I took it over, we were still making EPROMs. Those were the kind to erase with ultraviolet light through a quartz lens on the top of the package, to get rid the charge on the floating gates. Then in the flash memory, we had another electrode that could take those off. We didn't need to use the ultraviolet light. When I was doing that, the EPROMs and flash were about the same size, and I just decided that it made no sense to keep doing the EPROMs. We were going to get rid of these, turn them off, and go on to all flash because it was basically the same chip size and wasn't much more complicated, and was a lot more functional from an electronic standpoint. Then a little later on, we were working on some stuff called E-squared and others, where you could erase individual cells inside the memory instead of all of them. That one was more expensive and didn't seem to have much incremental functionality, so I stopped doing that. We really focused the whole division on flash memory when I was running it. In retrospect, it was the right thing to do.
ZIERLER: That's still the world we live in by and large, flash memory.
JENKINS: Yes it is. Yes it is, although the technology's changed. There are other things going on, but still, fundamentally, that's what it is.
ZIERLER: Ted, as your responsibilities were growing at Intel, you were becoming more senior, taking on more administrative roles. How did you fare just in terms of keeping up with all of the technical developments? In other words, were you able to still get your hands dirty? Would you rely on mentees to keep you abreast of what was going on? How did you stay on top of those things?
JENKINS: It was probably the functionality of the division that I was in. Running the Memory Division, I didn't know much about the circuit design of the microprocessors and the architectural structure. By the way, that is one of the good things about the current CEO. Pat Gelsinger came in there; he grew up at the total other end of the spectrum of the supply chain. He was out there working on the microprocessor architecture, but when I got into doing the patent licensing, I had the committee meetings with the product groups because I needed their marketing. We had one of their marketing guys, one of their circuit designers, and maybe one or two more, but we would talk about what was coming up, where we should be doing patent filing, and those kinds of things, especially what's coming up. Then also, if there were any system implications our customers might be engaging in, we should file patents on those as well. That allowed me to stay in touch with the marketing and the process development in the various businesses around and including some of the system businesses that we had. That allowed me to keep going with the fundamental technology. In terms of what their manufacturing activities were, or what their sales and marketing were doing, I was pretty much away from that. I was really focusing at the fundamental product level, so we could get the best, most appropriate patents.
ZIERLER: Ted, in 1996 when you took over the government affairs work for Intel, were you dual hatted at that point? Did you retain your portfolio in memory components?
JENKINS: Yes, I did. I actually did that, and that assignment came from the guy named Dick Boucher, the guy that ran the Microma business. But that job, the government affairs job, was only about 5% or 10% of my time. The basic idea was to make sure that the different locations of Intel had the same message and understanding and would take the same position on what we felt was important for Intel in the government. We didn't get super political. It was really if there was anything that affected our business, or could be some advantages to us, or otherwise. I ended up as a member here of the local Chamber of Commerce, the California Manufacturers' Association and a couple of nationwide business groups that matched Intel's business needs. But those meetings would be once every six months. It was not a not a big deal.
ZIERLER: Ted, doing government affairs, did you find yourself in Washington, DC at all?
JENKINS: I've been there, but really, most of the reason I got called for it was because I was here in Sacramento, the state government, the state capital of California. I did a couple of things. I met with Willie Brown once and got a stimulus approved for tech companies in general, which boiled down to not charging sales tax for expenses that went into research, because I showed him how much we spent on research and then what kind of earnings we would have that would end up stimulating some really good taxes for them. So I just said, "If you enact this, that means we can do more here, then more there, and you'll probably get a 10-for-1 coming back." [laughs] He was a Democrat. I wasn't so much; I was a Republican in those days. But he went right for it. It was a very simple thing that we got done. I did it with the Chamber of Commerce, and the Technical Chamber of Commerce.
ZIERLER: Ted, in the mid 1990s, with the proliferation of the Internet, people being able to access the World Wide Web from home, how did that change Intel at all?
JENKINS: It did accelerate our communication. Email became a lot more. One of the things that was interesting—you talk about this Zoom call here—one of the things that we used to do back in the days, especially for this meeting that we had about government affairs to get the different geographies connected—now that's in the United States—I would put together a deck of a slideshow (PowerPoint), and I would email those out to everybody. Then we would get on a phone call or and do the meeting that way. But all of this technology and the Internet encouraged us to do this, even though the medium was still just the phone. But if I've got all the materials there and we're talking on the phone, it's pretty easy to stay on track for the subject matter and discussion. In terms of the internet, I think it was mostly the email that kept everybody going, as well as the ability to connect from home or wherever, at whatever time. That was probably the big deal.
New Directions in Retirement
ZIERLER: Ted, the last topic we'll cover for today's talk: When did you start thinking about retiring from Intel, and what were the personal circumstances that might have influenced that decision?
JENKINS: Yeah, that's a simple question. My wife was undergoing breast-cancer treatment. She had that about two years before I retired from Intel. My son, my younger child, was 18 and he went through a psychotic break. He used to wake up in the middle of the night and walk five miles away, and then we'd call him, or hear from him or whatever. It was really kind of scary. It took us a couple of years to get him properly diagnosed as schizophrenic and properly medicated. That, and then my last stock option had matured, or was going to mature in April of ‘99. I don't think that was the end of it, but it was a good one; it was a milestone. That was another motivation, but I was pretty young. I was only 55, but I decided that my family was important, and I could just go ahead and do it. I'd been in the patent business for almost 10 years, so I just basically decided that was it. I scheduled it, I don't know, six months ahead, so my boss knew, and there were ways to account for everything that needed to be done. I actually retired on 05/05/99. I did that so I could remember it, and if they didn't have a party for me, it was Cinco de Mayo and I could find one somewhere. [both laugh] But probably more than other employees, I really had some wonderful experiences of parties or celebrations as I retired.
The general counsel had a party for me at his house. He was my last boss. Gordon Moore was there, Andy Grove was there, and I can't remember whether Bob Noyce was there. I'm not sure that he was. But it was really a tremendous thing. People got up and made few comments, poked me with few jokes, and things like that. But it was really a lot of fun. In fact, he took video of it. I still have video of it that I could probably find, and we could attach to this thing if you wanted to, but it was funny. It was really a good time. He and I had great relationship. I used to get to work about 7:30, to get decent parking place. You had to be there at 8:00, because if you had more than 5% after 8:00 in your building, you had to put in the sign-in sheet. [both laugh] This is Grove trying to—he would come walking around, even at 5:00PM on Friday, just to make sure that you were still there. Anyway, I would usually get there about 7:30 to get a good parking place, and I'd always swing by his office, and we'd just do a little chit-chat back and forth about where things were going and what we needed to do, and then I'd go on and do my thing, and he really appreciated that. He called me the best communicator on his staff.
ZIERLER: Oh, wow! That's high praise.
JENKINS: Yeah. We're still good friends. Intel, up until last year, they would have a golf tournament up in Tahoe, and I would have Dunlap with me, and a couple of people that worked for me in the Memory Division, and another guy, and they would stay at my place. We probably did that for 10 years, but didn't do it last year, so don't know when it's coming back. Plus, I'm getting a little long in the tooth for golf. Anyway, that was a really memorable party, and my daughter put one together also. She wrote a funny—she took Billy Joel's Uptown Girl and wrote some lyrics to it for me. [laughs] Anyway, fun times there. A lot of people didn't care for departure celebrations like that. We really wanted to get output done and celebrate that, but I really felt well appreciated when I departed and left Intel.
ZIERLER: Ted, last question for today. It'll foreshadow to our next talk. Retiring at relatively young age, being 55, did you have sense that if you could be helpful to your family and get things on the right track in that regard, that you might return to Intel? Or you were convinced at that point, even if things on the family front got on a good track, there would be other things for you to spend your time on?
JENKINS: That was really sort of it. The stock options had been very helpful to me from value standpoint, so I had those. I had enough money. I had other fun activities do, but probably my son was the biggest focus for the first few years—getting him properly evaluated and medicated and everything else, and getting that on a good track, and what he might be able to do from business standpoint and things like that. That was big focus of mine. My daughter was off—she got degree from UCLA in Biology, became a drug rep, and worked more down in that area than Silicon Valley. She liked it, met people down there, met her husband to be, and ultimately got married. But our son basically lives with us. We still have our residence in Los Altos Hills, and he really likes surfing. That's his biggest fun activity, so he'll go down there. Especially in the wintertime when the waves are bigger. There are times when we call him our Asian son because he actually propagates a lot of bonsai, and he loves trimming them. Artistically, he can do that very well. He does lot of art, and again, a lot of times it'll be those Japanese-looking waves and cedar trees on the cliffs. He's really become a bit more of craftsman. He actually went to culinary school and loves sushi. He could do the cooking, but he had trouble with the administrative part of being a chef, and wanted to be at Benihana's but couldn't make. As time has gone on here, I actually set him up with little bit of a stock portfolio. It was significant, but he's really done very well at getting that to grow and working on it himself. I still coach him on that. I've done everything I can to be his best friend so that he stays compliant on his medications. All of that is working quite well.
ZIERLER: That's great.
JENKINS: It's not perfect, but he can drive, he takes care of himself, he does his own cooking. A lot of stuff I thought might be worse. He's 46 now. He channels my dad a lot. My dad was big surfer. Jeremy also shapes his own surfboards, and he puts art the whole length of the board. One he did with all big fish scales about that size. [laughs] He shares that capability with his friends. So, a lot of it could be much worse, and I'm happy the way that turned out. So, that was one of the bigger focuses as I got out of Intel.
ZIERLER: Ted, on that note, we'll pick up next time: post-retirement life and your ever-deepening connections to Caltech at that point.
[End of Recording]
DAVID ZIERLER: Okay, this David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It's Monday, December 19, 2022. It is great to be back with Ted Jenkins. Ted, as always, it's great to be with you. Thank you so much.
TED JENKINS: Thank you.
ZIERLER: Ted, today we're going to pick up right at the point when you retired from Intel in May of 1999. Just to set the stage, this is before the so-called "dotcom bubble." Intel was still financially very strong in terms of the stock options that made a lot of sense for you at this point, regardless of those family decisions.
JENKINS: Sure. Yeah, speaking of the stock options. It was around April 15th that they were maturing, so that was one thought about why I picked 05/05/99, and also so that I could remember it. If I told this story before, I'm sorry. As I said, there were some family issues or concerns that also stimulated me to do that, but it was not a bad time to move for me, and it worked out very well. I was only 55 at that point in time, but I'd been at Intel for 30 years already, so it was a good run.
ZIERLER: Yeah. When you retired, I'm just curious about your plan in terms of interests in philanthropy: If you were considering being a consultant; if there were other technology ventures that you might have been interested in; or you really weren't sure at the point of when you retired.
JENKINS: There were some. I had been involved with Caltech, so I was going to continue on with that. I was clearly active in the Associates and in the Alumni Association, so those were important to me. I had not picked any serious boards to sit on or anything like that. I had been active philanthropically, somewhat, on the Sutter Medical Health Foundation here in town. Somebody recruited me to join that, and I did for a while. Once the Affordable Health Care Act went in, I decided I couldn't make a difference anymore, so I pulled out of that. The interesting thing about this—and for those that are thinking about retirement—the things you can do in life vary depending on how old your children are. If they're over six or seven and they're under driving age, that takes a lot of attention, and there's a lot of stuff going on—at least two soccer games every Saturday morning, and things like this. So, that was it. But then once they can get mobile by themselves, then you've got some time to get a little bit more active again in those interests.
The things that motivated my retirement in addition to the stock option were the fact that my wife had been dealing with breast cancer for a couple of years—the good news is she has not had any remission since then or anything else, so that's worked out well—and I had a son who had a psychotic break, and I wanted to focus on that and get him properly diagnosed and medicated. That took a couple of years, so that was also a factor in my life about that. Those things had been factors, and I was interested in travel and some other things, but from a philanthropic standpoint, on my point, Caltech has always been the highest. It's also one where I've been involved in a few committees: the IST committee, the electrical engineering committee, and the GPS committee. Just going back and hearing about the new discoveries and investigations, the work that's going on, and being able to interact with the students and enjoy that, those were all things that probably were the higher focus of my retirement time.
ZIERLER: Ted, in the early 2000s, just from the outside looking in, what were the big takeaways from the dotcom bubble? And how did Intel fare during those years?
JENKINS: It was an interesting economic time. They had the period of time when we had—they used to call it the pain index. This was the addition of the interest rate and the unemployment rate. And this was painful. From a problem standpoint, Intel was really doing pretty well in those days. When I retired, they had good products. For a long time, Apple was with the Motorola microprocessor, then we got their business for a while. I can't remember what exact time that was. Then after that, they went back to another more focused-related part on their business and got away from Intel. Even though we weren't making the same kind of products they were, they were a big competitor for a while because they were using competitors' microprocessors. So, having them on board was good, and I think that was still going. I think we still had them in that point in time. But yes, things were pretty good then, and we had a lot of good stuff going on. It was mainly, again, that campaign that I mentioned earlier, about the crush campaign that Bill Davidow and Dave House did. That really cemented, or really stabilized and lurched us forward for those periods of time, even up until I retired.
ZIERLER: Ted, two leadership positions you had before you were elected to the Caltech Board of Trustees at Caltech: President of the Alumni Association in ‘01 and ‘02. Tell me about that, how you came into that role?
JENKINS: It's interesting. First of all, you get invited to the board, and back in those days, the mode was that you would start out as a board member, then get invited to start up the line as treasurer, secretary, vice president, and then president. You would just go up the ladder chain automatically unless you misbehaved or something went wrong. So, that was really good, and the thing that was fun for me was, in the Bay Area, we're only an hour away flight time from Southern California, and of course, with Silicon Valley here, where we have a great representation of alumni here in the Bay Area. Consequently, we had always had alumni functions here. It's still going on. Peter Tong, through the Alumni Association, organizes a monthly Thursday meeting, and he gets a speaker. They went virtual for COVID-19, but now they're back together and meeting on that. I enjoyed going to see those events. They were usually noontime events. I had joined the Associates in there somewhere as well, and they had events up here, likewise, because, they also have a good focus here. At least one time we had seven Caltech board members from up here, and that's, again, the focus of what went on here. So yes, I think that was a big factor.
ZIERLER: In terms of fundraising, how important is it for Caltech to have a robust Alumni Association?
JENKINS: I think it's very important. The path that I've always said is, when you graduate from Caltech, the academic experience is very hard work. It's rewarding, you learn a lot; but you feel a little bit beat up when you leave here, and I don't know that there's a lot more we could do while the students are here to make that any better. Maybe a more interface with alumni because there's nobody else like us, either as students or alum. So getting together would be good. With my own experience after I was out of out of Caltech for a couple of years, and I looked at the other alumni from different places that I was working with and sharing experiences, I realized that I had an incredibly competitive experience going to Caltech. Even compared to University of California engineers, I had twice the humanities that they did. Who would have thought? But again, all that was there. We did not offer any degrees in the humanities, but we had some excellent instructors and professors, so that was another piece of the learning experience that I had. I actually had a wonderful economic course; I think I've mentioned that before. The thing that the Alumni Association really needs to do is to keep people and alumni connected with Caltech, and to gratify them and make them feel good, and get oriented toward making some gifts. We have changed over time. When I graduated, you weren't automatically a member of the Alumni Association. You had to pay dues, or you could buy a lifetime membership, which is what I did. I think it was $500, and it's nice because there's no more administrator taking care of that. More recently, in the last five years, we moved it over so that everybody that graduates is a Caltech alum. Then they're engaged to the extent that they can, and we don't have that monetary impediment of keeping some people from getting involved. I think that was a good move.
Leading the Caltech Associates
ZIERLER: When you were president of the Associates in ‘04 and ‘05, I wonder if you saw that as a complementary kind of position, or it's a really totally different animal.
JENKINS: It's very similar to the Alumni, but the Associates really are a philanthropic organization and have their orientation on that. It's interesting, because the composition of the Associates, it changes a lot depending on the geographical mode here. In Southern California 80% to 90% of the associates are not Caltech alums. They're people that want to get involved, and maybe they live in San Marino and they like the idea of being involved so they can join the Athenaeum. They have dinners with faculty speakers that give outsiders a great look at the wonder of Caltech. They have a wonderful travel program as well—a couple trips a year. I think they've got a trip to Jackson Hole in Yellowstone coming up this summer, and then the next summer they're signed up for the eclipse in Texas. They're going to be in the hill country of Texas to see that. We ended up taking a number of those trips, and a lot of the same people would do it, so we ended up really making some wonderful bonds with associates just through the travel program. That's been very good as well.
But as I said, the main thing is they don't have life memberships anymore, but I had one. I put in enough that would endow what they needed to match the dues, and it's just one more thing you don't have to worry about every year. [laughs] I liked that; that was pretty good. One of the things that I did was, they used to have the rollover between the presidents on January 1st. The problem with that was that you've got some programs to do in the fall. You have to have a different modus operandi between the school year and the summer because in summer a lot of people are traveling and you can't quite get the same amount of things done. So as president, I ended up serving one and a half years, which, back in my day, almost everybody flipped over after a year. Now, sometimes they're doing two years, which is fine; it's not a bad idea. But I had us move the term of the president from January to January, to September to September. That would allow the incoming president—because we would know who it was by then—and the outgoing president to collaborate during the summer and work on making sure that the program for the fall fits with where we've been and where we're going, and likewise, through the end of next summer. It's just kind of casual. I did this when I was there—work quite closely with the outgoing president during the summer. There wasn't much going on, but we'd always consult and everything else, and then the incoming would take over in the fall, which worked out well. I thought that was really a great change in the schedule, just because of the organization of events, leading of critical items, and whatever the philanthropic focus is going to be. So, I felt good about that change. One of the things that happened—I'm thinking of the transition—I joined the board right at that same point in time. I had donated an endowment for a professorship. That was the first really large gift that I gave, which was for an electrical engineering professor. I worked on it with Richard Murray, who was chairman of the division then, and—
ZIERLER: Ted, what year was this?
JENKINS: I think this was 2005. Well, probably 2003 for the professorship. I'm just guessing, because it was a couple years before I was asked to join the board. When I had told David Baltimore that I would like to be on the Board of Trustees—and he probably is the one that pushed that through—one of the things that he told me was, as the president of the Associates, you're also an ad hoc member of the Board of Governors of the Athenaeum. I really enjoyed staying involved with that club. The other thing that's so good about it is it's really one of the best substrates for the interdisciplinary collaboration between the faculty, because it's a place where they get together; they can sit down, talk about and discuss issues. You see a lot of those discussions going on. They also had one where the more senior faculty, and a couple of Nobel laureates would hang together to solve the problems of the world. They had a table there they called the Roundtable. It's right in the center of the main dining room at the Athenaeum. They wouldn't talk science, but they would talk world problems and just how to fix them, and it would be political, regional, or governmental issues would get their whole discussions going. That was another place that drew people together, and I just liked the way it helped stimulate the strengths of Caltech. So, when I asked about that, and I did get admitted to the Trustees, David Baltimore said, "I want you to stay on the board of governors here in the Athenaeum." [laughs] So, I said I would do that.
ZIERLER: The fact that the minority of Caltech Associates are actual alumni, what's the takeaway there? What's the bigger story about what the Associates is all about, and really what Caltech is all about?
JENKINS: Just because that's true in the LA area, that means that you have to think about what the programs are going to be there, and do those. Then in the Bay Area, you have all alumni, so you can plan events a little differently, and there's a separate membership club for the Bay Area, et cetera. Then there's another little hub back east around New Jersey, and New York, that have uniquely appropriate events there. But what it means for Caltech is that it's really the philanthropic activity, and that little facet looking into Caltech from the outside, where people that live nearby, have a nice look at the cost-benefit of their philanthropy, and that really helps magnify the excellence that Caltech is. The thing that also happens through the Associates is, a lot of the more senior people from around the LA area will hold salons in their house and invite other people who are not Associates to come and hear a Caltech professor, and then we can promote Caltech there and maybe get some more members and people that are engaged in Caltech. One of the things that's good about that, there's a pretty good group in Orange County as well, that brings people together for Associates events, and over on the west side of LA as well—the Beverly Hills area. Those are really good because getting back and forth across town in LA around dinner time or afterwards can be very tough, so if you can get a faculty and a few people to come from Caltech out to a really nice home or venue in one of these other places, that's another activity that works out very well. So, those are really good events for Associates and prospects.
ZIERLER: Ted, just a mechanic's question to set the stage for when you do join the board of Trustees: How does that work? Do you express interest? Do you need to be invited? Can you just say, "I've done all of these things; I want to join"? How does all of that come together?
JENKINS: In general, I don't know. First of all, there is a nominating committee, and they go after potential Trustees. One of the things that they look for is philanthropic capacity, then some sort of organizational expertise that can help, and then also some business—mostly business experience that's in the technical area, because they're the ones that will probably have the philanthropic capacity and the ability to advise in a helpful way. Something I've always said is, when you want to compare running a business in industry versus running an institution for education and research, there's a different bent there. When you look at all the faculty here, what we do is we get the best and the brightest, we equip them in a very good lab, and we encourage them to get out there and file for grants and get their research covered. That's not the kind of thing that you can manage as we would in business where you've got a structural organization; the whole organization's trying to do the same thing. What we really have here is a whole bunch of research and educational entrepreneurs out there that we're trying to encourage and support and help them do the kinds of things that Caltech does. So, I don't know whether you'd call it a challenge, but the function of Trustees is a little bit more advisory. Obviously, we do have governance, and we do overlook on things that are major, like the budgets, safety, diversity, and those kinds of things; but when it comes down to education and research, it's got to be a little bit more collaborative between the board, the faculty, and the institution. Actually, it's been interesting. We had a consultant come in and take a look at our board and talk to a lot of board members, and then we ended up having some discussions about what our roles were and how to do this, that and everything else. It was a pretty good recent experience. These reviews are periodically useful, to explore where we are and reset from weaknesses we uncover.
ZIERLER: Ted, when you joined the board, what were the key issues facing Caltech at that point? What did you get involved in?
JENKINS: Let's see. One of the committees that we started was the Student Experience. Again, since I was president of both the Alumni Association and the Associates, I was an ad hoc member of the Institute and Alumni Relations committee, and that covered the relationship between the Institute and the Alumni Association. I had worked on that a little bit because the Alumni Association had a memorandum of understanding between them and Caltech about what we were going to do, because the Institute would supply, for example, salaries for both of those organizations, and they've gone through periods where they were like a formal legal organization, and we ended up getting rid of that from both of the organizations during my tenures years here just because it was a lot of extra administration, we really didn't need it, and we were intertwined anyway. So, those were some of the key events that I saw.
The other thing when I first got involved, I got recruited to—well, for my last 10 years at Intel, I had been Vice President and Director of Corporate Licensing, so I joined the technology committee. It was interesting because Caltech, I believe, we file more patents than any other institution except the University of California in toto. We actually have our own agents, and we have a lot of discoveries and from our research, so we file a lot of patents, and we end up enforcing some of them. We've got a very exciting one going on right now. We actually got a ruling of about a billion dollars against Broadcom and Apple. Of course, they appealed it, so we're still going on with that. That'll be interesting to see how that comes out. One of the things we did on the committee when I was there is that we enforced some photography sensors that were made—we got patents on that, actually, through JPL—but we enforced those against all the cell phone manufacturers that used them because they had the same sensor in there. We harvested the something in the order of $100 million just on enforcing those patents, so there's some good work that goes there. You've always got to be careful about your image when doing that, but the patent schema and the reason they give you a monopoly on that for about 20 years is that you end up publishing your technology and it's available to all. It's not kept secret, like, say, a trade secret in business, or something like that that may have some more serious implication for making it public.
Anyway, I served on those committees, and I was actually on an advisory committee when we were enforcing the imaging patent and patents' layers (several patents in there). I was also recruited to the building and grounds because there weren't a lot of Trustees that had construction experience or anything like that. Having been at Intel and being involved in those labs and actually starting the Fab in Livermore where it was from the ground up—a brand new building and facility—I was recruited to that because I had interest there. So, that's a short story [laughs] of how I got involved in the various aspects of the board of Trustees.
ZIERLER: Ted, what about tech transfer and promoting the idea that fundamental research and entrepreneurial inclinations can both work well together at the Institute?
JENKINS: Just like a lot of other things, there are pros and cons, and there are things that work well and others that don't. We've had a number of professors that have been involved in getting a company started. Some go and get involved, or some stay as a board member, and support the start up. They can recover some value for that. There's a fair amount of synergy there, and there are conflict of interest potentials at different places in that, but we're very careful about that. The legal department has been heavily involved, and we've got our own processes. Actually, we make every Trustee fill out a conflict of interest document every year so that if there are people—it's basically employees—or any kind of business conflicts are looked at and vetted. Obviously, we usually don't throw anybody off the board for that, but we are careful to make sure that potential conflicts are controlled. Actually, with the tech transfer, we also did start a fund which we did not had before, to help fund some of these start-ups, and we've done that in a way that is pretty healthy from a legal standpoint and everything else. A lot of work went into that. A lot of discussion went into it, but we got it going. Rob Chess did a good job at leading us through that, and it worked out. We do have some entrepreneurs on the board. Rob is one in biotech, and obviously a lot of us Silicon Valley people have a similar experience. It works, but that's something that has to be managed on an ongoing basis. Another issue that motivated us to do this was that other universities were doing similar funding. Notre Dame has a program like this, and some other schools also are coming up with entrepreneurial, seed, or venture funds.
ZIERLER: Ted, your first presidential transition since joining the board came, of course, in 2006, when Jean-Lou Chameau succeeded David Baltimore. I wonder if you could talk generally about how the board of Trustees is supportive when Caltech makes these kinds of decisions, and what your specific involvement may have been, if at all.
JENKINS: I knew Jean-Lou pretty well. We didn't have that formal of a process, although I'm sure there were people—the chairman of the board and others—would have really helped with the onboarding of him. It's interesting; David Baltimore is a Nobel laureate and Jean-Lou was provost at Georgia Tech, so they're at opposite ends of the spectrum, both from a technology as well as a professional point. He was a very good manager. We ended up having had that horrible recession, and one of the things that he did was, he said—I remember this specifically at our annual meeting in October—he said, "You know that budget that you approved for me? I don't think we should spend it. I think that's too much. I think we've got to be much more frugal here in this period of time." He really sliced a bunch of stuff and really did a great job of preparing us to live through that tough period of time. He did say, "I still want to hire one or two excellent faculty every year." He said, "I think there's a good opportunity to get those people on board. But things like glorious publications and other kinds of things like this, and any expenses that are outside of research and education, we should kind of squeeze down." So, a lot of that went on. Maybe it was fortunate, because David Baltimore, really academically, took us through a great period of time; and Jean-Lou, somebody who is well organized and knew how to be fiscally responsible, really did a good job taking us through that period of time, too. The transition is always kind of [interesting]; there will be a search committee that goes out and figures out—and I'm sure we hired a consulting firm to help us get prospects, but I wasn't very close to that. There would be two or three candidates that the committee representative would discuss with us in front of the whole board meeting and mention their recommendations, and we would have a discussion about that. The committee would do that, and they'd present to us what their thoughts were, and then the board would have to, of course, sign off on the final prospect. I was pretty pleased with the way those transitions occurred.
Maintaining Institutional Stability
ZIERLER: Between the Associates and the Alumni Association, I wonder what leadership role you might have seen for yourself during the financial crisis, in terms of making sure that as much support as possible was coming into Caltech at this critical juncture.
JENKINS: I'm trying to remember. Usually when we're looking at philanthropic funds and that sort of thing, it's really done through the development committee, and whether or not we have a campaign going. We tend to do these campaigns over a period of time. The last one lasted about 10 years or something like that. The one before was maybe six. One of the nice things about this last campaign was we started it during the recession and during the financial troubles. What that meant was that we were talking to a lot of people; we were really trying to find people that could be prospects and get them interested in Caltech. As we did that, we worked along and worked along, and didn't get huge amounts of funds in those days. But what we did, I think because of the timing relative to the economic cycle, was we really built our pipeline into really good shape. One of the best things you can do is gift stock with a lot of capital gains in it because you get to write off the total market value amount of that, and you don't have to take the capital gains or pay taxes on those. That ends up being a very efficient way to get started, and our timing in that economic cycle was just perfect to have the success in this last campaign that we finished. It was over $3.5 billion dollars, I want to say.
ZIERLER: Ted, in terms of belt tightening, in terms of looking around the Institute to save money, in what ways did that process make Caltech come out even stronger than it otherwise may have been?
JENKINS: Having that experience made people think a little bit more about finances from a business standpoint, and it helped us. One of the things that you have to decide from a strategic and from an operational standpoint is: How are you going to focus your attention and assets? But you also have to decide: What are you not going to do? That stimulated us to think about some of those things. I can't think of examples of stuff that we decided not to do, but I'm sure that went on an individual basis relative to the labs and other operational expenses. The other thing that we would do was, on the building and ground committee—I hadn't heard about this before I was involved in that, and that was, they talked about "deferred maintenance." So, let's say you have a building where your air conditioning is getting old and going to have to be repaired sometime over the next five to seven years. When do you do it? What do you do? The thing that worked out really interesting, and we're very good at this, was, if you were going to go refurbish a building, or repurpose it or something like that, we would allow the deferred maintenance to build up. In other words, we would let the thing get longer in the tooth because we knew we were going to tear it all apart at some point and then and rebuild it, down to whatever levels. So, that was something that we did well, and continue. That goes on all the time because obviously there are economic cycles, and there are different things we do with buildings. So, that was another thing that the Trustees and the building and grounds department and the committee worked well on, together. I really thought that was a good idea.
The other thing: we're very good about environmental concerns through the building and grounds. John Onderdonk had that position since the very beginning I was on the board. Now he's assistant to David Kang—and he was the interim director for a while. We have a lot of LEED-Platinum buildings. One of the things that we did is, we warm water and send it all around campus so that we don't have to have local heaters. One of the ways we heat that is with the exhaust from turbines that—they're fossil fuel, natural gas—but we run those turbines to generate electricity, and then we use the heat leftover from that to warm the water. So, there are some very efficient things that are done around Caltech from an environmental standpoint.
ZIERLER: Ted, from your interest in the student experience and your own academic and career background, I wonder what your reactions were when you started to see how popular computer science was becoming among Caltech undergraduates.
JENKINS: That was a shift all across the technical and academic area. Obviously, the semiconductor business had a lot to do with that, making those systems possible. In a lot of ways, that was a real challenge for Caltech because we were into fundamental science exploration, but as time went on, all the students needed to have numerical or some other kinds of analyses of the data from their research. It was a discipline that just really exploded, not only at Caltech, but all around the country. It was to the point where, when I was at Caltech—they probably added a little bit to this—the core curriculum was physics and math, some chemistry; we also had humanities requirements, but the core curriculums were there. As we've come into this, we've gone through a period where every Caltech student, even though computer science hasn't been a part of the core curriculum, every one of them are taking at least three courses in it so that they can be well educated on how to do the coding and analyze the data in the work that they're doing, and actually use statistics from the sciences and everything else to get incremental answers and discoveries. So, it occurred as a big challenge. The committee—this not at the board level, but I'm on the information science and technology IST), and now it's more like computer science—has really been a challenge. We got a good start because we ended up hiring—first of all, the other thing I want to say is, Adam Wierman's involvement in this has really been phenomenal, because it's been such a challenge on that segment of the engineering department. On the other hand, in a lot of ways, we kicked it off pretty well. We hired a number of, not so much professors, but instructors that could help everybody, and teach the basics and give them the hands-on experience they needed. We also got some people that are really into how you match computer science with the other disciplines so that you can really simplify and magnify your output from it. It's been a challenge; it's still a challenge. I think we may have added one course as part of the core curriculum, but I'm not 100% sure. There have been some discussions about this, but we're getting to the point where we've caught up quite a bit, and we're still going on. It's still going to be a challenge here from just the computer equipment that you have. About every three, four, five years, somewhere in there, some of this needs to be swapped out. It probably doesn't have to be done all at once. Again, they don't use the word in computer science, but deferred maintenance is something, because as time goes on with the evolving capability of the chips, you need to move upstream from time to time.
ZIERLER: Ted, I'm curious if you were involved in any of the discussions about possibly spinning off ITS into its own division, to have a seventh division at Caltech devoted specifically to information and technology science.
JENKINS: Do they call it ITS? Or is that the way people—I thought it was IST: Information in Science and Technology.
ZIERLER: I stand corrected. No, you're right. You're right. [both laugh]
JENKINS: I don't recall any discussion about that. In essence, it could happen at some point. On the other hand, it is sort of a standalone, but it's not nearly as much of a standalone as a mathematics. You could argue, well, should it be part of mathematics, or should it be part of…? And I don't know. The organization of the computer science activity is quite a bit less important than figuring out exactly what we're doing, and recruiting faculty for that, because we're pretty collaborative here. We can get along, the people that do that or talk to each other a lot. One of the things that is kind of cool, I'm also on the S2I committee, which is Sensing to Intelligence. Azita Emami runs that. I kind of refer to her and Ali Hajimiri as old-fashioned electrical engineers.
JENKINS: A lot of what they do is so collaborative around, it almost doesn't matter what the organization is like on top as long as the leader of the engineering department is making sure all that stuff happens. One of the funds that I really like is the Carver Mead Exploration Fund. That has a committee which takes a look at stuff from computer science as well as electrical engineering and decides which of—the various leaders that have something that they want to have funded will write a grant-like memo, and then the committee decides which of those proposals will be funded. That's continuing to grow from an endowment, and I really like the idea because Carver was one of my advisors, or my last advisor, and he would reinvent himself every five to seven years and do something different. When I was with him, he was looking at metal semiconductor connections, and then later on, he was with Lynn Conway doing VLSI, or very large-scale integrated circuit kind of design. He's doing superconductivity now, but he reinvents himself from time to time, and that's something that goes on. The engineering department is pretty good about absorbing new innovations and figuring out where to go next.
ZIERLER: Ted, to the point of the most important issue is not about how Caltech Computer Science organizes itself, but more fundamentally, what it's doing. Along those lines, how can Caltech, which is so much smaller than places like Carnegie Mellon or Stanford, how can it remain competitive in both attracting the best students and the best faculty in computer science specifically?
JENKINS: We're large enough that we can do really imaginative stuff. Obviously, we don't have as many students, so we don't have to have as big a computer room [laughs] as Stanford or Carnegie Mellon, although Carnegie Mellon was one of the ones that got off to a pretty early start on computer science and has done well with that. Our ongoing challenge probably will be the computer resources, but a lot of people have these very clever ideas about stuff they want to work on. Somebody like Katie Bouman, who fabricated an image of black hole, some of that is just incredibly amazing. You need the creativity and the imagination to get that done, but computer resources on an ongoing basis are going to be a challenge. I don't think it's going to be out of scale compared to the larger people so much, but I could be wrong about that. I'm not a computer scientist; I'm at the other end where we made the chips, and I know more about that. But even that, I've been out of the business for a while, so it's a little different from what it was when I was there. The scale is not so much of an issue for us; there's a lot we can do without that. It gets into—a lot of these terms need to get cleaned up after a while. Artificial intelligence: I don't think it's artificial at all. It's real. [laughs] Machine learning is a much better term to use there. But those kinds of things will be really helpful in supporting a lot of the other research that we do, and there will be a lot of innovation and discoveries that will be done just in how to use computers, and we can participate in all of that.
ZIERLER: Ted, do you have a clear memory that's—it's such a complicated topic; there are so many different ways to measure it—but do you have a clear memory when you felt like Caltech had successfully navigated through the financial crisis, when things really didn't feel difficult anymore?
JENKINS: Oh, wow. 2008 and 2009 were the epicenter of that. As I said, one of the things I thought was really critical was our timing on that campaign and the stuff we were able to do. Jean-Lou just played the cards he was handed. We got rid of all of the printed alumni magazines and all of that other stuff during this period of time just because we thought we'd do everything online and that sort of thing. Because of the how tough it was, and the environment, everybody put up with that really pretty well. We might have been a little slow in getting back to some of that stuff, but we basically saved money, so that wasn't the worst thing. Right now we've got a lot of print publication and everything else, but our campaign was successful, so we've supported that. Those kinds of things need to be looked at carefully. We've had a lot of very generous gifts that have allowed us to get some building structures put together, and new labs forecast, and everything else like that. A lot of those expenditures and can lag the actual economic cycle because forecasting an economic cycle is not the simplest thing you can do. You do know exactly how much money you have, so you've got to be frugal on that sort of thing. But I didn't see a huge explosion, or any, what I would call an inflection point. We just played our cards as they came along.
ZIERLER: Ted, when Jean-Lou Chameau announced that he was stepping down, what did you see as his legacy? What had he done for the Institute?
JENKINS: I think that, be it up or down, his reaction to the economic issues that we were dealt at that point in time were really pretty good. I was a little surprised, a little disappointed to see him go when he did, but on the other hand, I know he had an older mother in Paris. He ended up getting a job in Saudi Arabia at the university there. I was really concerned about his wife being over there because she can't even drive a car outside of the university area, but he had an elderly mother in Paris that he needed to get back and see from time to time. I'm sure he got a very good salary from where he was, so I completely understand what he did. It was that little stronger engineering look, a little more classical industrial management in terms of looking at the assets. But that's probably the thing I remember most about him, was coming in and saying, "You know that budget we approved?" He said, "I'm not going to spend it. I think we're in the wrong place." I think that might be the biggest one.
The other thing that I remember about him was, this was an associates' trip where we went to France. He was on the trip with us. The first thing we did was we had a reception with all Caltech alumni that wanted to come in Paris when we first got there. Then we went over to Beaune and checked out all the wines and everything else, and that was a lot of fun because it was very good. Then we went on down to Lyon and checked out all the great places to eat, and then we took the TGV back to Paris to fly home. I say, "We came, we drank, we ate, and we came home." [laughs] But he was on that trip. He was really a good leader for telling us about France from the inside out.
ZIERLER: Of course, Jean-Lou's announcement came as something of a surprise. In what ways did you, the board in general, operate to support the Institute through this transition?
JENKINS: I wasn't on the search committee, so I wasn't into exactly how that went. We were given updates periodically, and the committee that was working on it sounded like they did all of the right things. We had a good search. I'm quite pleased with our current president. We're really doing very well here. He communicates very well. If you look at the challenge that he had through the COVID-19 thing, he was really good. The way he and David Tirrell put out notes to us periodically, talking about what they were doing, how they were managing, what they were doing about problems on campus, I'm not sure it could have been any better than what they did
ZIERLER: Do you have a specific recollection of meeting Tom for the first time?
JENKINS: Oh wow! One of the times we got together, he and Catherine were there, and so were their boys. They were there, and we got a chance to meet them. That was fun to meet the whole family. Beyond that, I don't remember a specific gathering. He's really very good. I worry a little. I send him an email every once in a while about something that is relevant. The last one I did was, he's been a little concerned about some of this antisemitism that's gone on throughout this period where socially we've gotten much more partisan in this thing. I sent him—my country club, it's a golf country club here in Sacramento. It's basically people that are well off. It turns out they haven't done this before: they're actually having a Hanukkah dinner. It's with a menu that is very culturally aligned with what the Jews would have and everything else. I had to send that on to Tom tell him I said, "In spite of all the antisemitism that's going on, here's an interesting thing that my country club is doing. This is something that they haven't done before that I can remember, but I think it's a nice thing to put out there during this tough period of time." I said, "This just an idea, Tom. You don't need to spend a lot of time on it." He writes me back and he said, "Ted, I always enjoy hearing from you." He said, "You're right. This is a great thing to have at this time of year and in the background that we've had." Anyway, I like his communication and the way he touches base. That's been very good. He's really a good manager. He's a good scientist. I think we're lucky to have him.
Supporting Basic Science for the Long Term
ZIERLER: Ted, in 2015, tell me about your decision to create a leadership chair in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, obviously a division outside of your area of expertise.
JENKINS: That started because Charlie Trimble passed my name off as being a good idea for the head of the GPS Chair's Council. That actually started when Ken Farley was the chairman of the division. He was pretty new in that, but the whole idea—maybe that's part of Jean-Lou's legacy as well—starting these advisory committees. The idea is to get people with some philanthropic capacity to join and hear about disciplines that interests them. I like to talk and I'm pretty good at socializing with people, so Charlie Trimble mentioned that I might be a good possibility for that. I did have one geology course from Bob Sharp, GE1. I was jealous of the discipline when I was in school because those are the only ones that went camping [laughs]. It's part of their discipline, and I didn't get to do that. Anyway, the idea was to help get these organized, get them kicked off and started. I was already a member of IST; I would do that. This sounded interesting, so I helped get this going. I was good at organizing meetings. I always try to get us set up where we had a gathering at the start of the meeting; we didn't kick it off at exactly at the arrivals, but had a half an hour where people mix and mingle. If they come from across the city, they could get there, sit down, have some snacks, talk with other members of the committee, and then we'd kick off the committee. Then we'd always have a dinner so that we weren't throwing people out of the meeting at rush hour traffic, and again, get some more socializing in. Anyway, Charlie said, "Well yeah, I nominated you, Ted, because you've got a bigger Rolodex than I do." [both laugh] He likes GPS as well. He and Phil and I always had our own special concepts that we shared. Ken was fairly new and not that involved in the relationship to development, so I helped facilitate that quite a bit in the first, but he learned quickly. He was chairman of the division for 10 years or two terms, and then John Grotzinger came after that. I worked with John who was a little further along in his career than Ken was, so he didn't need quite as much support. I really enjoyed staying involved in GPS, then development decided that we really needed to flip these things around every once in a while, so I had to resign as the chair, but I was told that I still needed to stay involved.
As a part of this during the campaign, to get back to your question, they wanted to get these chairs so that the chairman had a fund that he could use for whatever he needed. Again, it's just the endowment of that, so this going to live on. This is the typical deal. Ed Stolper is the one who approached me about doing this as a part of the campaign, and said they wanted to get $6 million, but they said the Moore Foundation would match whatever I put in 1-for-2, or half. Then John Grotzinger had some research funds that he was going to put in there. I think I had to do about $4 million. The funny part of this story is that I did the first batch, and then I was getting ready to do the second one. Intel came out with a feature when they first got this company that was going to manage a delivery of funds that they would match. Intel still matches 1-for-1 up to $10,000 for every retiree every year. This was in this one week period; I think it was December 7th to December 14th that they were going to match any gift 2-for-1 during that period of time, no limit on the amount of money. I said, "Wow! This is kind of cool. If I put my next million up there and I get their two [million], I'm done." [laughs] I was able to complete that until—Intel went back forth a little bit. First they denied. Then there were two other people that we got together and talked about, put some pressure on, got them to come through and commit, got them to agree that it was a healthy gift for them to do as well. Anyway, I was able to complete my commitment. It's really important stuff. John Grotzinger tells me what he uses it for from time to time. John Eiler needed some new equipment for his spectrum analysis, so that's what John used it for one year. It's the kind of use that isn't quite as sexy as some of the other things that we could show off to potential philanthropists. It's a way of keeping fundamental research in a good shape and other things that come up that look like they need some funding.
ZIERLER: Ted, in an earlier conversation you cited Nobel Prize-winning professors as a great way to measure how Caltech is doing at any given time. In that vein, were you around for any of the Nobel Prize celebrations as a member of the board of Trustees, either for LIGO, Francis Arnold, or others?
JENKINS: Yeah. At the various luncheons, we would have those. I think we had Kip Thorne for one in the LIGO, and that was really cool. The other cool thing about the prize was that it got done after they had just upgraded all the sensors in the LIGO, so if you think about it, it was a significant engineering factor as well in that. Kip Thorne, at the press conference—which I think we all we saw the video; part of it is his celebration of getting a Nobel Prize—first of all, he said, "We did this with MIT. MIT got one person; we got two." Then he said, "This about the whole team. I didn't do this by myself. We've got all this equipment We've got engineers. We've got everything else. This is really an award for my whole team." I thought that he was extremely gracious. Then we had a luncheon as well where Francis Arnold was there. We heard about that. That was also a good time. One of the things that's interesting for me to remember about that is, do you know Sean Bailey?
ZIERLER: No, I don't.
JENKINS: He's a board member. He's VP at Disney—Disneyland.
ZIERLER: Oh, yes, yes, yes. I'm sorry, I do. Now I know who you're talking about, absolutely.
JENKINS: Francis Arnold is his stepmother. Did you know that?
ZIERLER: That I did. I did know. Amazing.
JENKINS: I only heard about that at this Nobel laureate luncheon, so it was really interesting. By the way, we had my 50th reunion for Caltech that would put us at 2015. I was on the committee for what we should do, and I said, "We should have a remembering Feynman in the Bridge lecture hall," where we had his lectures twice a week for two years. My class was in the original Feynman class when they refurbished the Physics 1 and 2 lectures. I was able to get Robbie Vogt and Kip Thorne—because Kip Thorne is the Feynman Professor—to speak there and give us some memories of Feynman. Then we had an open mike for everybody to tell their Feynman stories. Feynman came to our 25th reunion as well. There's a picture of my whole class sitting in the Bridge auditorium, or the lecture hall. It's really kind of funny to see. That's the other thing I remember about Kip before he was a Nobel laureate.
ZIERLER: Ted, a few questions. I'm not sure where to fit them in terms of the chronology, but a few leadership positions that you had outside of Caltech that I wanted to ask about: First, the California Manufacturers Technology Association. What is that association? What's its mission?
JENKINS: Yeah, let me give a little bit of background here. One of the things that I did—I think it took about 5% or 10% of my time—I was involved the corporate government affairs a little bit, probably because I was here in Sacramento where we've got the California capital. I can't remember who was ahead of me in this, but this was one of the organizations that we decided to work through. That group would work on advocating what the technical industry needed as necessary with different legislation as it came up. It was advisory. I'm trying to remember how often we met. It was maybe a couple times a year, three times a year, something like that. We would provide help or just personal support for, not financial so much, but there were membership expenses. I can't remember what those were. We would have different things going on where we'd help and weigh in on different kinds of legislation that would helpful to our tech business, so that's really what went on there. One thing that I did do; I remember a specific personal advocacy. We were able to get a sales-tax benefit on expenses that we did for research. I went in one time to Willie Brown's office—he was one of the legislators here in California—and I told him, "If you give us a hiatus on sales tax for things that we use in research, we can actually spend more money on research. If you look at the amount of money that Intel spends on research versus how much profit we make, it's a benefit for you guys. If we do more research, we'll get more products, you'll get more income tax from us." So, I said, "I think this is something that you guys should do." He said, "Hey, that sounds great!" [laughs] We were basically able to get him to support that and do that. So, that's one of the things we did there.
The other memorable thing about that was that I was president when Pete Wilson, the governor, ended up retiring. We had a big gala for him. It was our annual one with his transition, or as he was retiring. It was a fun evening to get together with him. I can't remember whether Gayle Wilson was a Trustee then or not, but we were able to cross paths with them a couple of times here in Sacramento. Because I was a member of the Technology and Manufacturing Board, I got invited to one of their campaign events in our neighborhood. Gayle Wilson sang a cappella for a few songs. It was really good.
ZIERLER: Ted, two other affiliations I wanted to ask you about: You've served on the board of the Information Technology Industry Council and the American Electronics Association. Tell me a little bit about each of those and some of the things you were involved with there.
JENKINS: That Information Technology and—what was it? ITI?
ZIERLER: It's full name is Information Technology Industry Council, and the American Electronics Association.
JENKINS: Yeah. The information technology one was back east, and I would attend a few meetings. I can't specifically remember some of the issues, but it was a matter of just making sure that Intel's voice was heard in specific legislative or governmental issues that were going on then. That was back east. I can't remember exactly what city it was in, but not far from Washington, DC.
ZIERLER: And then the American Electronics Association, did you do a lot of work for them?
JENKINS: I'm not remembering that at all. Did you get my name...
ZIERLER: Oh, it's on your it's on your profile page for the board of Trustees. That must have been a small one.
JENKINS: Yeah, I think so. Sorry about that. American Electronics... I'll have to go back to think about that.
ZIERLER: Okay. [both laugh]
JENKINS: At this time of life, not everything is—I prioritize stuff that is important to me.
JENKINS: Like, pi is 3.1415926536. [both laugh]
ZIERLER: There you go. Ted, moving the conversation closer to the present, something that we all had to deal with. When the pandemic hit, how did the board pivot to meet regularly over Zoom? What were some of the challenges therein?
JENKINS: Like anything technological—I probably talked about this; maybe it's not in my CV, so you haven't seen it—in my first 10 years of retirement, I taught Advanced Communications with a professor at Sacramento State, just a few miles down the road. There's a guy named Jacques Ellul who says technology is not neutral; there are good effects and there are bad effects. You have things that come in and work both ways. In a lot of ways, if you think about it, the Zoom meetings make it a lot simpler because if you're from out of the area, you don't have to travel. Everything works pretty good. There's a pretty good connection there. On the other hand, it's really not perfect for camaraderie and that kind of thing. We all miss that a little bit, the face to face, just the social. If you look at Maslow's hierarchy of psychological need, once you get your food, and shelter, your next priority is social, then esteem, then self-actualization. That put some pressure on what we were doing, so it's caused a little bit of a disruption, but there were other things you could do to mitigate that. In a lot of ways, we did pretty well in spite of the COVID-19 stuff. For those people that had any kinds of other stress in their life, I think it exacerbated that. I enjoy getting in person and seeing people. That's something that we missed in there; you didn't get to connect with that. Actually when we got done with that, there were a few people that ended up resigning from the board. I still don't know exactly what the rationale for some of those was. Otherwise we've done pretty well through the period. It was certainly easier for us than it was for the students or faculty.
ZIERLER: Ted, with your focus on the student experience at Caltech and all of the difficulties that students ranging from undergraduates all the way to postdocs, in what ways did you and the board of Trustees in general support the student experience during this difficult time?
JENKINS: We were off the grid relative to that because there was much day to day, and we were getting updates from David Tirrell and Tom Rosenbaum probably once a month or once a quarter. It was interesting; they had to align whatever they were doing with Pasadena and County of LA, so it would have been really hard for us to impose ourselves on any of that. Basically, if any of us did anything, it was a matter of commenting back on what we saw that was going on. From my perspective it always looked very good whether they were having on-campus this and that, and how to keep research going that needed to keep going, and the other things they did about all the infrastructure. In a lot of ways, we had to just watch what was going on and then make some comments here and there about the best ideas.
ZIERLER: Ted, as life returns slowly to normal, coming back in person, seeing your colleagues on the board and others at Caltech in person, what's made you realize what's so important about that in-person direction that you can't get virtually?
JENKINS: A lot of us were there at commencement, nearly everybody, so that was really good. That was the first time we'd had one in a while. As Trustees, we had dinner with graduating seniors and their families. We put one at each table outside the Athenaeum, and that seemed very safe. We also got to sit up there on the dais like we usually do, and again, both those venues were outside. It was very nice, but it was also fun to get together with a reception at the president's house. It felt good to get back together, and we did it in what I would call a very safe way, because almost everything was outside, and the weather was good.
ZIERLER: Ted, bringing the conversation right up to the present, what's going on now with the board in general? What are the kinds of things that you're focused on as we look to 2023?
JENKINS: We had a big, significant reorganization of the board, but we didn't get away from any of our missions. Led by David Thompson, his consultant, and discussions with us, we've put a couple of committees together, and we've changed some things. We've limited Trustee membership to committees to two committee memberships per Trustee. Continuing to watch how that unfolds, I think is going to be interesting and important going forward. As I said, we did have some attrition there, which I don't know how that was caused, and I still have a little bit of concern about that. I've talked to some other board members, and I think those decisions about leaving were individual ones of the Trustees themselves, so I'm not going to spend too much time on that. We'll have to see how these changes unfold and how they work going out. I think that's something that's important for the board to take a look at in addition to our standard ongoing business, like what the divisions are doing, how JPL is going, and things like that. We've got our standard challenges, and probably the biggest one aside from that is the new organization, the impact of that, and the good effects and the bad effects. We'll have to see.
ZIERLER: Ted, now that we've worked right up to the present, as a capstone to this wonderful series of discussions we've had, I'd like to ask a few retrospective questions about your career and accomplishments, and then we can end looking forward if that's all right.
JENKINS: Hey, sure.
Learning Beyond Formal Education
ZIERLER: First, just to tie it all together, I wonder if you can reflect broadly on what you learned at Caltech as a student, and how that informed all of the things that you went on to accomplish at Intel. In other words, what did you really learn at Caltech? Why was it valuable to what you were able to do?
JENKINS: I think I told this story before, but one of the important things was, with Carver as my advisor and learning about metal semiconductor contacts from him, that allowed me to come up with an invention that got me my first patent at Fairchild R&D. That was that Schottky diode that I talked about. This many years later, that's something that's easy to remember because it was a pretty impactful, and it really broke the norm of what they used to call alloy, [laughs] which was wrong in that environment. The other things: just the fact that I had the materials science, those experiences with Carver, and then the device physics—the solid-state physics. Those lessons, and of course the electrical engineering, and just all of the other mathematics, all of that stuff helped what I was able to do in terms of developing processes. It also set me up—I didn't stop learning when I left Caltech. When we were at Intel, Andy Grove, as I said earlier, said, "We're a learning company." Going through that, he gave a course in semiconductor processing that provided a good basis for both Fairchild and Intel. Those things really helped me move along. It was great. The other thing that I was able to do as time went on was take a look at what I learned compared to other people from other schools. I really felt very gratified with the amount of education that I had compared to others because I thought it was significantly better.
ZIERLER: Looking at your career at Intel, what are you most proud of both in terms of the biggest impact that it's had on Intel and on society? Or, just simply, what was most satisfying for you to work on?
JENKINS: That first assignment, or actually it was the second assignment, developing the process for our first technology, and then the company that it turned into, that felt really good. The next thing that was really pretty good was I got to move up the chain a little bit and became that plant manager of our third wafer fab in Livermore. Actually, that nostalgia comes back a little bit now as we hear about the fusion announcement from the Livermore Radiation Labs. They were just a little bit away from where we were, and they might have been working on that stuff then, I don't know. It was another little thing. That's not a bad part of California. The other thing was the leadership skills that I was able to develop there as well. What I actually learned at Intel ended up being a big part of my life because it really underscored the social behaviors that can be the most effective in terms of getting teams to perform. Getting that done, one of the groups that I led when I had a few people working for me in the legal department on the licensing, they did a blind survey on what they thought of me as a manager, and I got rated as a master manager by that private survey. That felt pretty good. If you can get people to really follow you and you've got wholesome values and everything else, it ends up being really rewarding, really gratifying to have that kind of support because it means that you were doing the leadership.
ZIERLER: Ted, as Intel navigates this very new technological world, the world that Intel itself did so much to help create, both for the leaders of Intel and for some of the young engineers and scientists who are starting their career now, what are some of the things that you think are most important to appreciate about Intel's early years—about its culture, about its approach to technology—that would be useful for anybody thinking about Intel's future?
JENKINS: This is only anecdotal, but I've heard that the culture at Intel isn't like what it was when I was there. I think I said this before: I've keynoted Andy Grove a couple of times and said that I don't think there's any company whose culture was more an extension of an individual's personality than ours was of Andy Grove. That whole idea of being disciplined, do what you say you're going to do, don't sweep our problems under the rug, and learn how to lead in a very wholesome way, those are really important. The other thing: I think they kind of lost their way, not much from a leadership standpoint, but from a technological standpoint. They really need to get that back together. The new guy, Pat Gelsinger, I think he's working on that. It's one of these things that will take a few years to claw it back. I think he's on a good path, but you never know until you get there.
ZIERLER: Ted, the relationship, the partnership between Intel and Caltech: It's so fascinating; it runs so deep; it's created many foundational technologies and achievements. Broadly speaking, what has that relationship taught you about the very best way that academic institutions and corporations can come together for advancements?
JENKINS: That's a good one because I think a lot of our early connection was serendipitous. We didn't really push it. We just happened to—well, maybe it wasn't serendipitous because Gordon went back to his alma mater and recruited people, so at least a few of us were because of him. I don't think that's the reason Bill Davidow got recruited to Intel, but he was up in Silicon Valley. Something like 80% of the semiconductor companies of that area came out of Fairchild. That could have been the thing there, but I think it was really probably the interpersonal connections and just how people felt about their alma mater and going back there to connect with it.
As I said earlier in one of our other [conversations], I was the executive sponsor of Intel for Caltech and would do a lot of the interfacing. I think Intel's interest in that has waned. I don't know exactly how they're recruiting new college graduates. Because of our growth rate, we decided that we were going to get about three-fourths of our engineers right out of school and bring them up to speed and do it that way. That ended up working out pretty well. I think they're in a different mode now and they've got other challenges. The other challenge is just getting this technology up to speed because it requires new equipment. It requires people to understand how these processes work, and the complexity of the processes and the chips are a lot more than they were when I was there, so that's got to be dealt with as well. I think maintaining relationships with education as a pipeline for the human resources really needs to be there. I don't see it as much as I did earlier, so I'll have to see what might be done there.
ZIERLER: Ted, as the Resnick Institute is ramping up at Caltech, it makes me think about Caltech's long legacy in securing really historically significant gifts from benefactors, such as an alumnus like Gordon Moore, to people that didn't have a connection to Caltech, like Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen. What do you think is it about Caltech that inspires such generosity and trust to secure such large gifts?
JENKINS: I'll go back to the point you made earlier: One good measure of who we are and how good we are is the number of Nobel laureates percentage-wise of our faculty. I think that's pretty impressive. I haven't seen a chart for all the schools, but I know we're in pretty good shape on that one. Then, just showing those inventions, the impact of those, and everything else is what gets people from outside our bubble to come make contributions. I don't know exactly how Resnick got introduced to Caltech, or the Chens. I think they're neighbors nearby, perhaps. We need to show people what we do. By the way, there's nothing quite as dramatic or interesting as to have things on campus—have people come and visit, hear lectures, and things like that. The Watson Lectures are probably a great portal for getting people interested, but also using these salons. People invite their friends that are of similar ilk to them, and then showcase all of our interesting results.
ZIERLER: Ted, in thinking about all of your generosity, all of your devotion and service to Caltech over the years in many different capacities, to turn the table around, what's been meaningful to you? What have you gotten out of it in doing all of these things for Caltech?
JENKINS: Quite frankly, [laughs] when I talk about how you organize a meeting, I say, "What you really want to do here is provide philanthropic gratification, intellectual gratification, social gratification, and have fun," and I think that's because that's what I get out of Caltech [laughs] on my visits and staying involved. I could probably go into more detail, but just being connected with this place that does all of this great science, gets the recognitions for it, and being able to interface with the researchers that are doing that, and being able to interface with the next generation that's coming along, those are all gratifying. I just enjoy it, and I feel good about it to that extent. I did do some, and I'm sure my other involvement has helped here and there, but that's really what keeps me going and what I think is interesting about Caltech.
ZIERLER: When you have opportunity to interact with undergraduates, I wonder what strikes you as being similar to your own experience, and what may seem very different.
JENKINS: Let's see. One of the things that we had was, at the IST meeting—which was a few weeks ago—we actually had a poster session with a bunch of undergrads. It was really interesting to just hear them talk about the new technologies that they're working on and be able to—they'd have a big poster, a really fair amount of detail there, but then they would give their elevator pitch about that, and it would be interesting to hear what they said. You could ask questions and see what kind of answers you got and just become gratified that, boy, it looks like they've got their stuff together here. [laughs]
ZIERLER: Ted, looking to the future, what's most important to you? For however long you want to remain active for Caltech, what are the things that you want to accomplish? What are the things that you want to continue to support?
JENKINS: I haven't done a strategic long-range plan, but I'd like to continue to offer my advice, have it be relevant, and give that outsider perspective. When I say outsider, I'm talking outside the Institute, but within the technical areas that I'm engaged. I like supporting the Carver Mead Exploration Fund which is probably my most interesting focus, mainly because I don't have to make the decision. There's a committee that makes the decision on which projects will be supported, and I just love the process that they have for that, and the capability of the committee that makes the decisions. But other things are possible as well. One of the things that we talked about is, we got rid of that senior Trustee, but that's one that happened when you were 72. One of the things that you realize as you get older, you don't have quite the same passion here and there. I like to visit. I'll stay informed, and if something gets real exciting, I'll go ahead support it. But forecasting what they are is a little bit tricky at this point, so I'll use the process that seems to have worked for me.
ZIERLER: Finally Ted, last question looking to the future: In all the ways that you are concentrated on innovation at Caltech, what are you most excited for either in the near term or the short term?
JENKINS: Ooh, let's see! I'd really like to see some very interesting environmental stuff come out. How do we—either sequestering carbon, or, I think it's a long ways away, but this fusion announcement is interesting. It's not our invention, but we could come up with some pieces of it that would help us get to the implementation of that. I don't know, but I would think those are good. Then just coming up with more efficient developments. I don't have a good call on quantum computing, but I'm interested in how that's going to unfold. Will it be efficient, or more effective? We'll just have to see. I'm a little skeptical, but that's because I don't understand it [laughs] as well as the other stuff.
ZIERLER: Ted, I want to thank you for spending this time with me. It's a treasure for Caltech history, for Intel history, to be able to capture your perspective in your own voice. It's been a great pleasure of me to have this time with you, and I want to thank you so much.
JENKINS: Thank you, David. Even though I know you've been here a shorter amount of time, I really like the direction of your project and how you've clearly had a lot of interrogation experience, [David laughs] and it's working out well.
ZIERLER: Thank you so much.
- An Abiding Devotion to Caltech
- Career Longevity and Loyalty
- Sights on Caltech
- Beginnings at Fairchild Semiconductor
- The Launch of Intel
- The Centrality of Carver Mead
- Globalizing Chip Competition
- The Generational Partnership Between Caltech and Intel
- New Directions in Retirement
- Leading the Caltech Associates
- Maintaining Institutional Stability
- Supporting Basic Science for the Long Term
- Learning Beyond Formal Education