Silicon Valley (Notes)

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Several factors (e.g. Terman, Shockley) led to the birth of Silicon Valley.


Professor [later Dean] Frederick Terman joined Stanford University instead of the more established ones in the East (e.g. MIT) because of his health.

He is known for

  • encouraging his students such as Hewlett, Packard and the Varian brothers to become entrepreneurs
  • leasing land owned by the University to the fledgling companies
  • making agreements with the companies to hire his students and/or send employees to attend courses at the University.

The entrepreneurship (initiated by Professor Terman) lives on.

HP, Yahoo, Google and several other companies were founded by Stanford alumni.


William Shockley (Nobel Prize winner for co-inventing the transistor) moved to California and and set up “Shockley Labs”.

He was brilliant but eccentric. He was not so good at nurturing his employees.

The “Traitorous Eight (including Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore)” left the company to join Fairchild semiconductors.

Noyce and Moore later co-founded Intel (Integrated Electronics) with Andy Grove

Some Thoughts

  • In the early days of computing, manufacturers of magnetic devices (core memory, tapes, disks and drums) than silicon [dioxide based] devices.
  • Some said that “Magnetic Valley” might be a more appropriated name than “Silicon Valley”.
  • Harvard, MIT, and Cornell produced early computers (e.g. Mark I) and disciplines (e.g. Time sharing system, AI Lab, Computer Graphics, Machine Vision).
  • Their alumni also founded computer companies along Boston Route 66.
  • Could the East Coast have its Silicon Valley?
  • DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) hosted the Boston Computer Museum.
  • Over the years, several cities and counties claim to be part of the Silicon Valley.
  • What defines the Culture of Silicon Valley?
    Start up / innovation?
    Moving around companies?

Categories: Notes

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