Equipment/Technology, North America

Idaho potato farmer provided initial funding for high-tech company

When they were forming Micron Technology Inc. in the late 1970s, the founders of the Boise, Idaho, maker of semiconductors didn’t seek their initial funding from venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. Instead, they sat down with a potato farmer, a rancher and a building contractor in Idaho.

As James R. Hagerty reports for the Wall Street Journal, the three men kicked in $300,000 of seed money for what is today a global producer of memory chips with a stock-market value of about $85 billion.

One of those three early investors was Allen T. Noble, who died July 18 at his home in Boise. He was 92.

Mr. Noble grew potatoes and other crops and owned farm-equipment dealerships. Though he never went to college, he invented self-propelled irrigation machinery that could shuttle across fields. His interest in technology put him in contact with two of the founders of Micron – Joseph L. Parkinson, a lawyer, and Mr. Parkinson’s twin brother, Ward, a semiconductor-design engineer who had worked for Mostek Corp.

At the time, Micron’s founders were working in the basement of a dentist’s office in Boise. The three initial funders saw the potential and then helped reel in another early financial backer, J.R. Simplot, the billionaire potato farmer who supplied McDonald’s Corp. with frozen french fries.

Source: Wall Street Journal. Read the full story here
Photo: Allen T. Noble. Wall Street Journal via Noble family

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