The shift is apparent in the classroom, too.
"When I started my degree, circuit design was the place you began," said House. "Today at Michigan Tech, my alma mater, digital signal processing is the first engineering class. It's almost like discrete components have gone away."
Working at higher levels of abstraction is the corollary of technical advancement, House said. "If you looked under the car I drove in college and the car I drive today or the computer or the radio or TV, you can see how everything is more complex, and to deal with that complexity we need abstraction."
Social networking has had its impact on engineering, too. "The web certainly replaced the Wagon Wheel -- the bar where early Silicon Valley folks hung out back in the Fairchild days. Everybody used to get together there and talk. Their napkins were even printed with a form to fill out your business plan.
"Intellectual property and trade secrets weren't as carefully defined then, and the info flew over alcohol. I think it still happens now -- it's hard to control."
Switching gears, I asked House what he saw as the big issues in communications today.
"Virtualization at the server level really put the spotlight on the network," he said. "The whole abstraction of resources from physical to virtual entities is providing yet another level of abstraction so we can operate more flexibly."
Dave House's former bosses (from left) Andy Grove, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore back in the pre-PC days of chip design.