Jean Hoerni was an engineer, born on September 26th , 1924 in Switzerland. He received two Ph. Ds in physics; one from the University of Cambridge and the other from the University of Geneva. In 1952 Hoerni moved to the United States where he got a job at the California Institute of Technology. There, he became acquaintances with the founder of Silicon Valley, William Shockley, who recognized a brilliance in Hoerni. Shockley hired a group of scientists, including Hoerni, to work at his new company, Shockley Semiconductor Laboratories, mere months before the acceptance of his Nobel Peace Prize in Physics for research of semiconductors and discovery of the transistor effect.

       However, Shockley's notoriously quick temper and inappropriate business manner caused Hoerni and seven others to leave him. Referred to at the "Traitorous Eight," Hoerni, along with Julius Blank, Victor Brinich, Eugene Kleiner, Jay Last, Sheldon Roberts, and founders of Intel, Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, left to found the Fairchild Semiconductor corporation. Together, they invented the planar process, which gives people the ability to use silicon to create a transistor, rather than using germanium. Although it was more commonly found in transistors at the time, germanium was much less effective. Using this new technology, the Fairchild Semiconductor corporation made the first integrated circuit, and soon after became a $140 billion industry.

       Hoerni left the Fairchild corporation after a few years, and went on to found more companies. The most famous of these was Intersil, which produces digital watches.


       When Mortenson was desperate for money to begin building his first school in the Pakistani village of Korphe, he sent out hundreds and hundreds of letters to people of influence. He hoped that they would support his efforts and donate money to the process of building his school. However, after spending much time writing and sending all of the letters, only a few people replied and Mortenson soon became seriously distressed due to the lack of financial aid. He made a call to Jean Hoerni, who, though skeptical at the beginning, agreed to donate $12,000 to Mortenson's first school.

       After Hoerni saw the results of Mortenson's first school and the impact it made on Korphe, he co-founded the Central Asia Institute (CAI), making Mortenson the Executive Director.

       He died in February of 1997, leaving a $1 million dollar endowment to continue his foundation.

"Hoerni had the foresight to lead us to the 21st century with cutting-edge technology, but he also had the rare vision to look behind and reach out to people living as they have for centuries.” —Greg Mortenson