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African Icon: Meet Frank Greene, 1st African Who Invented The World’s Fastest Memory Chip

African Icon: Meet Frank Greene, 1st African Who Invented The World’s Fastest Memory Chip

Dr. Frank S. Greene was a man who sat in different shades of careers. He was an inventor, researcher, venture capital investor and teacher. He is credited for breaking the colour barrier and opening the doors for many Black engineers in Silicon Valley in the 1960s.

He built and patented the integrated circuit that made Fairchild a leader in the semiconductor industry, as reported by Santa Clara University. Here are four facts about Greene you must know.

One of the first African-American students to graduate from Washington University

He was, first and foremost, born in Washington, D.C. to Frank S. Greene Sr. and Irma Olivia Swygert. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri in a largely segregated setting. His social reality made him place a premium on the civil rights movement.

He became one of the first African-American students to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and applied to Purdue University for his graduate studies. He earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1962 and later enlisted in the United States Air Force.

He built the fastest memory chip

Greene became the first African-American cadet to graduate from the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program and rose to become an air force captain before his voluntary retirement. He built high-performance computers for the national security agency as an electronics officer. He also built the fastest memory chip during his time with the Fairchild Semiconductor team.

He began his doctoral research at Santa Clara University while in the Air Force. He obtained his doctorate in electrical engineering in 1970. He was the first African American to be appointed to the position of trustee at the University.

He pioneered many startups with a primary focus on women

Greene established the tech company, Technology Development Corporation. The objective of the entity was to conduct research and develop engineering services for the U.S. government. It built the avionics equipment for the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, a communication system for scuba divers and a space shuttle program for the federal government.

Greene later founded ZeroOne Systems. It is a supercomputing systems house. Just two years into its operation, the company’s annual revenue hit $15 million.

In 1986, Greene founded NewVista Capital, a venture capital firm that pioneered many start-ups with a primary focus on women and minority business owners. He was given prominence in an exhibit at Palo Alto City as one of the 50 most important Black tech giants in 2009.

His scholars’ program helped improve science and maths education

Inventor Greene set up a scholarship program in memory of his wife Phyllis Greene’s contribution to the activities of the NAACP. Greene was interested in building and empowering African-American engineers to break ground in the technological space.

His Frank S. Greene scholars program ensured that all participants ended up in college. The scholars’ program entailed a science fair, an engineering competition, a career day, parent enrichment workshops and monthly classes.

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