Rajan Parrikar Photo Blog

The “Silicon” in Silicon Valley

This blog post is about a subject that interests me: Silicon Valley (where I live) and its history.

There are numerous accounts available on the web on the development of Silicon Valley. At its core, it is a story of American ingenuity, playfulness, and entrepreneurial spirit. I have chosen to document below three seminal Valley mileposts that fundamentally altered the world. The work involved bent the arc of human civilization, and that it all happened within an area of a few square miles is astonishing.

The entry of the word “Silicon” into Silicon Valley can be traced back to the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory started in 1956 in Mountain View, California, by William Shockley, the co-inventor of the transistor. Today at the same spot stands the La Fiesta Super Market.

Site of Bill Shockley's lab in Mountain View, California

Marking Shockley's lab in Mountain View, California
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50mm f/2 Makro Planar

 
Site of Shockley's lab today - La Fiesta Super Market

At Shockley's site today - La Fiesta Super Market
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 

Separated by a few miles and a couple of decades is the house in Palo Alto where William Hewlett and David Packard first got their enterprise going (1939). This garage is considered the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

Hewlett Packard garage in Palo Alto

Hewlett and Packard's garage in Palo Alto, California
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50mm f/2 Makro Planar

 
 

Within walking distance of the HP garage, at the intersection of Emerson and Channing streets in Palo Alto, is a plaque commemorating the great American inventor Lee De Forest who worked here in 1910 on the world’s first global radio communications system.

De Forest plaque in Palo Alto

Site of Lee De Forest's lab in Palo Alto, California
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50mm f/2 Makro Planar

 
 

Silicon Valley was built “on the shoulders of giants,” and its pioneering tradition endures.

Google headquarters in Mountain View

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50mm f/2 Makro Planar

 
 
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