Mr. W. J. “Jerry” Sanders 2008

Jerry Sanders was a salesman at Fairchild Semiconductor in the 1960s, eventually rising to Group Director of Marketing Worldwide. Jerry was known for his style and flair. He later co-founded Advanced Micro Devices and took his trademark style into his position as its CEO.

He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on a competitively won academic scholarship from the George Pullman Education Foundation, graduating with his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1958, and then went to work for the Douglas Aircraft Company. One year later, he moved to Motorola, then to Fairchild Semiconductor. In 1969, following clashes with a new more conservative management, Sanders left Fairchild and led a group of current and former Fairchild colleagues to start a new company, AMD, as chairman, president and CEO.

Sanders gave the company a strong sales and marketing orientation, so that it was successful even though it often lagged its competitor’s in technology and manufacturing. He shared the success of the company with the employees, usually coincident with sales-oriented growth targets.

In 1976, he was responsible for a licensing deal with Intel that made AMD a second source for the Intel x86 microprocessor family a deal that eventually made the company the only real competitor to Intel.

Sanders created Advanced Micro Devices; his personality was the company’s personality — colorful, brash, perhaps a little too “Hollywood” for some. Sanders also co founded several prominent industry groups including the Semiconductor Industry Association, the Santa Clara Manufacturing Group, the Semiconductor Research Corporation, SEMATECH, and the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation. He is widely regarded as one of the architects of Silicon Valley and its unique culture.