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Primer: Silicon Valley Gadgetry February 18, 2009

Posted by Will Thomas in EWP Primer.
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This post is a sequel, of sorts, to my previous post on the “100,000 garages” rhetorical device, and, more directly, to my Hump-Day History post on Fred Terman.  It is also an extension of yesterday’s post on the AIP’s History of Physicists in Industry project, where I pointed out that analyses of firm behavior at the project level would be a useful thing for historians to do.  Of course, there are cases where this has already been done, at least to an extent, with great success, as in the case of Silicon Valley vacuum tube and integrated circuit manufacturing firms.

Russell and Sigurd Varian with a klystron in 1951; click to go to Stanford University website

The Varian brothers, William Hansen, David Webster, and John Woodyard inspect a klystron; Photo credit: AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives

Between the 1930s and the 1970s, the region around Palo Alto, California, just south of San Francisco, grew into a center for electronics innovation and manufacture, challenging the domination of the electronics industry by firms such as General Electric, RCA, Western Electric, and Westinghouse.  The companies located (more…)