Before Dov Frohman’s invention of erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM), read only memory (ROM)—a type of integrated circuit that contains a system’s main program—had to be “burned in” at the ROM-maker’s factory using “masks” of the required bit patterns, a time-consuming and expensive process that left no room for programming errors and made updates a nightmare. In the early 1970s, Frohman, a young Intel electrical engineer, developed the concept for a new device, one that would allow changes to be made by system developers in their lab. Gone was the expensive and nerve-wracking mask- programming step; instead of weeks waiting for a new ROM, an EPROM could be reprogrammed in minutes. It was an innovation that Intel cofounder Gordon Moore termed “as important in the development of the microcomputer industry as the microprocessor itself.”
Frohman was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on March 28, 1939. He received a bachelor’s of science degree in electrical engineering from the Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, in 1963 and a master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1965 and 1969, respectively.
In 1965, Frohman joined the research and development group at Fairchild Semiconductor in Palo Alto, California, where he worked on technology development and design of integrated circuits and nonvolatile memory devices.
In 1969, he joined Intel in nearby Mountain View, where he was involved in the development and design of semiconductor memories, including EPROM. In 1972, he spent a year as a visiting professor at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. In 1974 he joined the School of Applied Science and Technology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, as associate professor of applied physics and served as director of the School of Applied Science and Technology from 1975 to 1980.
Frohman spent most of his career building Intel Israel into a flagship of Intel and a cornerstone of the Israeli high-tech economy. He helped found Intel Israel in 1974, became its general manager in 1981, and ran the organization until his retirement in 2001. For nearly 30 years, he created and led this highly successful company in one of the most demanding and competitive industries in the world.
Frohman holds numerous patents and awards for his work, including recognitions from the IEEE, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and the State of Israel. Today, Frohman divides his time between his two homes, one in Jerusalem and one in Selva di Cadore in the Dolomite region of Italy.