Aamer Khan
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The History of Silicon Valley

This article is written by Nardine B. M’barek, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.

Mr. Aamer Khan is an engineer, entrepreneur, and technologist. He used to work with in Silicon Valley between 1996 and 2002. He was a guest of ours during Startup Istanbul 2017 and delivered a speech in which he talked about the history of Silicon Valley why it exists and how it came into existence. 

The story of Silicon Valley somehow begins in 1946. During that time the southern San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California was a place where hardly any technology existed. Stanford University was already there at that time, and Dr. Truman, the man who could be called the father of Silicon Valley, was an electrical engineer who worked with the MIT during the Second World War where he was working on radio waves trying to jam the Nazi radars as American aircraft flew into Germany.

While working for MIT, he noticed that there was a huge amount of money invested by the US Government for pure basic research. The amount of money was exactly $450 Million which is a significant amount of money. Stanford Univesity only got $50 Thousand of that money. When Dr. Truman got back in 1946, he decided that he wanted to change that and that he was going to create a research unit; something that would mainly attract the government funding to build technology. 

He aimed at solving a problem that the US Government itself was trying to solve which is penetrating the USSR radar systems and disabling them. The military was the main customer, and the fundings that he sought to get were going to be used to do the necessary research in order to solve this problem. The solution he brought was the use of microwave power tubes that were electronically tunable in order to create disruption systems to jam the Soviet Union’s radar systems. 

Dr. Truman had a bigger plan than just attracting Government funding to Stanford University; he established the Stanford Industrial Park which was the first Technopark in the world. It essentially sets up on around 700 Acres today, and at the time, very few companies joined this park including HP. The idea was attracting the money for projects from the government, and get professors to get professors to be on the boards of these companies. Graduate students were mainly going to provide pure research and later on the necessary manpower to participate and eventually create technology in these companies. 

Mr. Shockley, later on, invested what we now know as the computers’ processor. He created a company called Shockley Semiconductor Labs in 1995, which was the first company to create transistors out of Silicon and not Germanium. Key people, known as the ‘traiturous eight’, who are very important to the valley joined the company; they grew tired of Schockly and left his company to create Fairchild Semiconductor.

In 1971, journalist Don Hoefler titled a report on the semiconductor industry in the USA “SILICON VALLEY USA.” and that is how the place became recognized as the Silicon Valley.

─ April 24, 2020