Revisiting History (How Silicon Valley Grew, Thru 1997)

Strange post, I realize, but I’m in the middle of searching for something and just came across a 1997 BusinessWeek cover story titled “Silicon Valley: How it Really Works.” At the end of the piece, which talks in great length about the importance of proximity (how 1997!), it lists a time line detailing how the Valley began, and how it grew. It’s rich with interesting data, some of which I’m seeing for the first time — I think. At least, if I ever knew that Larry Ellison launched the precursor to Oracle with $1,200(!), I long ago forgot as much. In case you’d enjoy a look back, too, here’s the time line:

1931. Stanford sophomores David Packard and William Hewlett become friends as benchwarmers on the varsity football team.

1938. Fred Terman, Stanford professor of electrical engineering, loans Hewlett and Packard $538 to produce an audio oscillator, their first instrument made while toiling in a Palo Alto garage.

1955. Dr. William Shockley, co-inventor of the transistor at Bell Labs, returns to his hometown of Palo Alto and founds Shockley Labs Inc.

SEPTEMBER, 1957. The so-called Traitorous Eight, including Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, walk
out of Shockley Labs and found Fairchild Semiconductor, the first company to work exclusively in silicon.

JULY, 1959. Robert Noyce of Fairchild files a patent for the integrated circuit.

1964. Gordon Moore projects the number of transistors that can fit onto a chip will double every two years. This will be known as Moore’s law.

JULY, 1968. Noyce and Moore resign from Fairchild. Each puts up $250,000 to found Intel Corp.

NOVEMBER, 1971. Intel produces the first microprocessor, which is called the 4004.

NOVEMBER, 1972. Nolan Bushnell, who quit Ampex and founded Atari with $500 out of his pocket, ships the pioneering Pong video game.

APRIL, 1976. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak launch Apple Computer and debut the Apple I at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto.

SEPTEMBER, 1976. Shugart Associates ships the first floppy disk drive for PCs.

1977. With $1,200, Larry Ellison launches Software Development Laboratories, which will become database powerhouse Oracle Corp.

DECEMBER, 1980. Apple goes public, at $22 a share, the biggest public offering since Ford in 1956.

FEBRUARY, 1982. Sun Microsystems is founded by three Stanford students, VInod Khosla, Scott McNealy, and Andy Bechtolsheim.

APRIL, 1983. John Sculley joins Apple as president and chief executive, signaling a new era in the Valley as T-shirt tycoons give way to seasoned managers.

MAY, 1983. Philippe Kahn, the French-born, sax-playing mathematician, launches Borland International. He would become a database king before Borland started to
fizzle in 1993.

JANUARY, 1984. Apple introduces the Macintosh.

DECEMBER, 1984. Husband-and-wife team Leonard Bosack and Sandra Lerner found Cisco Systems to develop networking technology.

JUNE, 1985. Steve Jobs is ousted from Apple after losing a power struggle with Sculley. He founds NeXT Inc.

DECEMBER, 1989. Conner Peripherals shoots to $705 million in revenue, the fastest-growing manufacturing startup in history.

MARCH, 1993. Intel unveils its most powerful processor to date, the Pentium, which establishes its dominance. Today, Intel’s market capitalization is a stunning $163 billion.

APRIL, 1994. Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen found Netscape Communications as Mosaic Communications. Netscape goes public in August, 1995, at $28, jumping to $75 before closing at $58 the first day.

NOVEMBER, 1995. Steve Jobs’s Pixar releases the first computer-animated hit film, “Toy Story.”

JULY, 1997. Apple CEO Gil Amelio resigns and Jobs takes an “expanded role.”