Vinod Dham: How an Indian National Changed Technology Forever
The name Vinod Dham may not be recognizable to most people who use technology, however, to technology and science professionals this name is unmistakable. Vinod Dham, the founder of the renowned Pentium chip and former Intel executive, was born in Pune, India in 1950. Dham completed his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering at Delhi College of Engineering after being convinced by his brother not to pursue his original degree in Physics.
After finishing his undergraduate degree, Dham began working with the first private semiconductor company in India, Continental Devices India (CDI), and helped establish the first facility in Delhi. After four (4) years of working with CDI, Dham took his established love of semi-conductors and built on it by immigrating to the United States in 1975 to pursue a Master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. Soon after gaining his Master’s degree, Vinod Dham took up a position with a memory-based company in Ohio, National Cash Register (NCR). While at NCR, Dham wrote a paper on reprogrammable memory and was noticed by executives at the world-renowned technology company Intel, eventually being offered a position at the company. Once he joined Intel, Dham began experimentation that led to the invention of what we now call ‘Flash’ technology, a data storage method.
With over 16 years of history at Intel under his belt and the title of Vice President for the Pentium Processor Division, Dham has had his hand in just about every new area of technology surrounding semi-conductors that you can imagine. Most notably, Dham spearheaded the team responsible for the invention of the Pentium chip, or the Pentium processor, released by Intel in 1993. This initial processor, called the P5, paved the way for the technology that we know and love today. Since leaving Intel in 1995, Dham has invested time and money into a number of startup companies, the first being NexGen shortly after his departure. His advisements to this startup resulted in a breakthrough that allowed NexGen to be bought by Advanced Micro Devices for $800M, Intel’s largest competitor at the time.
Dham has become known as a purveyor of technological growth, with each company he aligns with at least doubling their value within the time frame he works with them. After leaving NexGen, Vinod joined Silicon Spice (which built multi-channel VOIP technology), only moving on to a new project after Silicon Spice was bought by Broadcom in 2000 for $1.2B. Through the years, Dham has helped countless startups grow their companies and develop technology that has been integral to the technology we use today.
Presently, Dham has taken up assisting early startups out of India and working with the AlphaICs team on agent-based AI (artificial intelligence) chips. He has also dipped his hand into the real estate world, recently putting his house in Freemont, California on the market for $16M, a significant increase from its original market value of $600,000 when it was bought in 1997.
As for his personal life, Vinod Dham has kept relatively private, although it is common knowledge that he is married to Sadhana Dham and has two sons. Almost all of the information available about Dham is based on his technology works, simply because he has done so much to contribute to the world of science and technology since his immigration to the United States in 1975.
In a little over 40 years, Vinod Dham has done more with is immigration opportunities than many could have ever hoped and dreamed. When Vinod immigrated to the United States he had less than $10USD in his possession and was unsure of how he’d manage his life as an Indian immigrant and student. Now aged 68, Vinod Dham is one of the wealthiest technology professionals in California.
More than anything, Vinod Dham has proved to any potential immigrant that it does not matter where you come from, but what you do with your opportunities.