Their first transistors were of the silicon mesa variety, innovative for their time, but exhibiting relatively poor reliability.
By 1965, Fairchild's process improvements had brought low-cost manufacturing to the semiconductor industry – making Fairchild nearly the only profitable semiconductor manufacturer in the United States. Fairchild dominated the market in DTL, op-amps and mainframe computer custom circuits.
However, internal trouble at Fairchild began to surface with a drop in earnings in 1967. There was increasing competition from newer start-ups. The semiconductor division, situated in Mountain View and Palo Alto, California, was actually managed by executives from Syosset, New York, who visited the California sites once a year, even though the semiconductor division earned most of the profits of the company. Fairchild's president at that time, John Carter, had used all the profits to fund acquisitions of unprofitable ventures.
In the fall of 1967, Fairchild suffered a loss for the first time since 1958 and announced write-offs of $4 million due to excess capacity, which contributed to a total loss of $7.6 million. Profits had sunk to $0.50 a share, compared to $3 a share the previous year, while the value of the stock dropped in half. In October 1967, the board ordered Carter to sell off all of Fairchild's unprofitable ventures. Carter responded to the order by resigning abruptly.
Furthermore, Fairchild's DTL technology was being overtaken by Texas Instruments's faster TTL (transistor–transistor logic).
The loss of these iconic executives, coupled with Hogan's displacement of Fairchild managers demoralized Fairchild and prompted the entire exodus of employees to found new companies.
Many of the original founders, otherwise known as the "fairchildren", had left Fairchild in the 1960s to form companies that grew to prominence in the 1970s. Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore were among the last of the original founders to leave, at which point the brain-drain of talents that had fueled the growth of the company was complete.
In 1997, the reconstituted Fairchild Semiconductor was reborn as an independent company, based in South Portland, Maine with Kirk Pond as CEO.
On March 11, 1997, National Semiconductor Corporation announced the US$550 million sale of a reconstituted Fairchild to the management of Fairchild with the backing of Sterling LLC, a unit of Citicorp Venture Capital. Fairchild carried with it what was mostly the Standard Products group previously segregated by Gil Amelio.
On September 6, 2001, Fairchild Semiconductor announced the acquisition of Impala Linear Corporation, based in San Jose, California, for approximately $6 million in stock and cash. Impala brought with it expertise in designing analog power management semiconductors for hand-held devices like laptops, MP3 players, cell phones, portable test equipment and PDAs.
On September 1, 2007, New Jersey-based RF semiconductor supplier Anadigics acquired Fairchild Semiconductor's RF design team, located in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, for $2.4 million.
In April 2011, Fairchild Semiconductor acquired TranSiC, a silicon carbide power transistor company originally based in Sweden.
On November 18, 2015, ON Semiconductor made an offer to acquire Fairchild Semiconductor for $2.4 billion (or $20 per share) after a few months of speculation that Fairchild was seeking a potential buyer.
On April 10, 2016, Fairchild Semiconductor moved its headquarters from San Jose (3030 Orchard Pkwy.) to Sunnyvale (1272 Borregas Ave.)
On September 19, 2016, ON Semiconductor and Fairchild Semiconductor jointly announced that ON Semiconductor had completed its announced $2.4 billion cash acquisition of Fairchild.