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The Story of Silicon Valley : A Tech Fairy Tale

Silicon Valley is not about fitting in. Your age, your place and dress doesn’t matter. Here in the Valley, the only thing that matter is what you want to do and how you want to do it.  Silicon Valley is the global centre for innovation, high technology and social media. People move here to start up a start-up.  But why the valley? How it became the start-up jungle? Let’s find out.

In an average city one start-up event happens every month, where as in Silicon Valley, three of them happens every day.  But what is the story of Silicon Valley?

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

It was the year 1957, eight young engineers and scientists was gathered for a secret meeting in a hotel in San Francisco. They were the employees of Shockley Semiconductor Lab outside Palo Alto (San Francisco).  They were conspiring to quit Shockley and start a lab of their own.  The most important person among the group was Robert Noyce, a Midwestern with brilliant scientific mind and genuine affability of a born salesman. There was no official contract prepared, so all of them signed on a ‘dollar bill’ for a revolutionary idea, a Start-up. This was the real beginning of Silicon Valley, even though the name came 10 years later. But the odds were astronomical for any of this occurring.

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But what made them to quit Shockley Semiconductor Lab?

With a solid financial backup from Beckman Industries, William Shockley, a Nobel Prize winning (for inventing transistor) American physicist set up a semiconductor shop in Southern California. Shockley hired a dozen of best young engineers, physicist and scientists in the country to reinforce his venture. But all of a sudden his autocratic mentality and ‘do it in my way’ attitude made the working environment strenuous for most of the new employees. The old tradition in east coast and mid-western valleys was something like retiring after 40 years with one company, taking home a pension and incentives. The greater willingness to change jobs or starting their own venture was something never existed.

The Beginning of a new era

Noyce and his team knew that what they are up to, is going to break all the rules. If things go south, they will fail and cost of failure will be enormous.

With the help of Sherman Fairchild, an American inventor and entrepreneur, Robert Noyce and his men set up Fairchild Semiconductors nearby Shockley Semiconductors. Within three months, Robert Noyce and Fairchild caught entire industry’s attention by earning a contract from IBM to produce semiconductors in bulk amount.

In late 1960’s they outgrew all of their competitors. Those times, Fairchild was like a seedpod that had scattered! There were new companies all over the valley.  Fairchild Semiconductors was too much talent stuck in one place and they wanted to make the maximum out of it.  A variety of spinoffs started from Fairchild Industries and that’s what really began what we think of as the modern Silicon Valley. The giants of electronic industries such as Motorola, Texas Instruments, IBM were literally chasing them.

The Downhill

But they were destined as some point to stumble, that time everybody ran over the top of them. In-fighting and lack of communication between manufacturing division and R&D division caught Fairchild Industries off-guard. In 1967 Vice president of Fairchild left the company to head up their competitor, National Semiconductors. Following his footsteps, other employees also started to leave Fairchild to join other companies for better working environment and in-stock options. Robert Noyce was really disappointed by all the internal fighting and lack of funding for Research and Development. Finally the beautiful love story between Robert Noyce and Fairchild Industries came to an end.

Starting again from the scratch

Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently – Henry Ford

Robert Noyce and Gorden Moore left Fairchild to start a new company. With their legendary status in the industry, they easily secured financing as well as managed to lure some of the brightest employees to serve along them in their new venture. Andy Grove was the main among the list, to serve as the director of operations for their new company.  They managed to raise two and a half million dollars funding in just two days.

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Those first years was like walking the thin line next to the cliff of disaster. And guess what’s name of their new venture?   INTEL. Everything inside the company was innovative, from companywide stock options to open-plan office. At INTEL, there was no privileges anywhere.

 

A culture of Meritocracy

They were setting up a culture of meritocracy.  Noyce wanted to get away from hierarchy which was the characteristic of large corporations. He gave the INTEL and its workers a democratic environment whereas Andy Grove was the man who kept it with discipline. Noyce encouraged the people in his labs to run their ideas and see where they went. INTEL was the first company in Silicon Valley which threw away the ‘the chain of command’ system.

Robert Noyce and Andy Grove was right. INTEL became a huge success – Thanks to their innovative thinking! In 1971 INTEL managed to reduce the size of a processor from more or less the size of a refrigerator to something which can fit on a fingertip. That is how world’s first Microprocessor (INTEL 4004) born. 2000 transistors on a fingertip! Here, at this point of history, the digital revolution has officially began.

One Tech Fairy tale : One Hero

This is the story of Silicon Valley and Robert Noyce is our hero, world’s first technology entrepreneur CEO.  After 1971, the invention of Microprocessors, the place became popular in the name – Silicon Valley. Thenceforward Silicon Valley became the new brand of American Dream. Here in the Valley, Innovation and Ideas are everything and that is the magic of Silicon Valley then and now.  Silicon Valley is a mindset, not a location.

The Noyces of the world did not get into this to have a job. They got into this to create a reality, even if it meant giving up everything and starting from the scratch.

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