Originally known as Santa Clara Valley located in the northern part of the U.S California state, Silicon Valley is the beating heart of the world’s advanced technologies. It’s the home of google, twitter, facebook, Intel and half the App store’s applications and the list goes on. The silicon in its name doesn’t stand for silicon material extraction, but rather for it being the heavyweight champion of the silicon transistors industry and namely the computer industry. It is the safe haven of technological ideas and the dreamland of developers, but how it came to be is actually a very interesting story that many may not know.
Silicon Valley Origins:
It would be very unfair to attribute the beginning of the Silicon Valley to anything but the Standford family’s memorial for their child, The Stanford University. In 1891 it opened its doors for the first stream of students and on the long run, Stanford became the soil that sprouted many of the brilliant minds who later became the pioneers of the tech-world as we will see.
World War II era:
Little do we know, the WWII was an electronic war, unlike we see it in movies. It all began when Germany started using radio communications to counter the bombing attacks of the Allies. The U.S then deployed research labs to learn more about radio communications as knowledge became the essence of war. After a long game of cat and mouse, the Allies won the technological war, but a hidden victory was realising just how important knowledge was. And for the first time, the U.S military had the universities participate in the warfare.
Frederick Terman, one of the research labs pioneers and a Standford engineering professor gathered his staff and the brilliant minds who worked with him in the Harvard Research Lab and they started researching and studying on their own. Terman used to encourage his students not to take masters or P.H.Ds but rather to start their own companies, as he felt that his country was in great need of innovation and revolutionising tech industry by a patriotic motive. Terman was later known as one of the earliest fathers of the Silicon Valley.
Of his most famous students were William Hewlett and Dave Packard, whose company we now know as HP, namely Hewlett-Packard. Back then, they weren’t into the computer and laptop industry yet, but they were working on radars and artillery equipment like most of the tech companies at the time. The need for radars and the huge amounts used necessitated directing efforts and research towards the radars and radio industry.
Cold War era:
Later after the war, a hot-blooded cold war erupted between the U.S and the Soviet Union. The U.S deemed it critical to acquire information about the Soviet Unions movements and latest inventions in order to prepare countermeasures. This is where the start-ups founded by college students and many of which were Stanford students played a huge role in acquiring data and infiltrating the Russian privacy.
The second father of Silicon Valley also had a military background. His name was William Shockley and he won the Nobel prize in 1956 for his brilliant invention, the transistor. the transistor, later on, became the essence of microprocessors which is the core component of the computing world.
Shockley founded in the first semiconductors company in California. Yet was not very good at management, and had several clashes with his employees. Eight of which decided to bid him farewell and start their own company named Fairchild. The eight of them were later called “The Traitorous Eight”.
Fairchild participated a lot in the great war, and they cooperated with NASA in the conquering space contest by building their computer equipment. Out of Fairchild as well, came two of the most brilliant minds, Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce who cofounded Intel, the godfather of microprocessor industry, however, we ought to mention the fact that Intel was not the only microprocessor company to come out of Shockley’s cape, but rather more than 60 companies did.
Post Cold-War: The Traitorous Eight later went on either co-founding or financing famous Silicon Valley companies like Nvidia and AMD.
The following era witnessed the flourishing of venture capital businesses. Venture capital is a type of funding which specialises in high-risk portfolios for a share of equity and while the funding before the cold war and after WWII was basically done by the government, Venture capital firms and entrepreneurs started to race in participating in the Silicon Valley growth, by incubating many of the rising new start-ups and funding them.
By the end of 1980s, the average income of the Silicon Valley was well past 50% of the total U.S income marking a skyrocketing growth. This growth continues until today as Silicon Valley is leading world’s technology to places we’ve never dreamt about. Whether you’re holding your iPhone, planning and Uber ride or even typically using applications or social media, know that we’ve got Silicon Valley to think for that.