Silicon Valley - what is that?

Silicon Valley - what is that ?

This question may have occurred to many people's minds when they came across the term Silicon Valley. What hides behind it is mostly unknown to them, although the revolutionary inventions and developments which have been made in this "Valley" affect everyo ne's daily life, and it is hard to imagine our modern civilization without them. Silicon Valley is the heartland of the microelectronics industry which is based on semiconductors.

Geographically, it is the northern part of the Santa Clara County, an area stretching from the south end of the San Francisco Bay Area to San Jose, limited by the Santa Cruz Mountains in the west and the northern part of the Diablo Range in the east. It co vers a thirty- by ten-mile strip extending from Menlo Park and Palo Alto, through Los Altos, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino and Santa Clara, down to San Jose.)

The name Silicon Valley was coined in 1971 by Don C. Hoefler, editor of the Microelectronics News, when he used this term in his magazine as the title for a series of articles about the semiconductor industry in Santa Clara County. "Silicon" was chosen bec ause it is the material from which semiconductor chips are made, which are "the fundamental product of the local high-technology industries.")

Silicon Valley saw the "development of the integrated circuit, the microprocessor, the personal computer and the video game") and has spawned a lot of high-tech products such as pocket calculators, cordless telephones, lasers or digital watches.

Looking at our high-tech society in which the PC has become indispensable - both in business and at home, replacing the good old typewriter by word processing - the crucial role of Silicon Valley as the birthplace of the microelectronics and then the PC re volution becomes even more evident.

Silicon Valley is also seen as a place where many entrepreneurs backed by venture capital have made the American Dream come true as "Overnight Millionaires."

This makes Silicon Valley a philosophy saying that everything which seems impossible is feasible and that improvements in our society can take place daily, as Thomas McEnery, the mayor of San Jose, the capital of the Santa Clara County, puts it.)

Thomas Mahon calls it the "economic and cultural frontier where successful entrepreneurship and venture capitalism, innovative work rules and open management styles provide the background" for the perhaps "most profound [...] inquiry ever into the nature o f intelligence" which might, together with "bioengineering and 'artificially intelligent' software, [...] affect our very evolution.")

On the following pages I would like to convey the image of Silicon Valley as the nucleus of modern computing, presenting the most important events which comprise the developments of the three major companies Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Apple.

Martin Groeger
Last modified: Mon Jul 8 06:34:25 PDT