Everything You Wanted to know about Silicon Valley..But were afraid to ask

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Everything You Wanted To Know About Silicon Valley... But Were Afraid To Ask Part One

OPERATON EXODUS - THE BEGINNING OF THE END By Virginia McCullough Copyright 2000 by Virginia McCullough 3-14-00 In the golden state of California, there lies a valley of plenty. Twenty-five miles long and ten miles wide, it too is golden. Rich in history, endowed with natural beauty, enriched by the finest universities, this valley draws the finest minds and the hardest workers in the world.

Its history begins on August 5, 1775. The story is best told by a book published in 1940 as part of the American Guide Series, entitled San Francisco - The Bay and Its Cities [pages 19 and 20]:

As darkness fell on August 5, 1775, the San Carlos, having sent a launch ahead to find anchorage, sailed cautiously through the Golden Gate and anchored for the night. On August 7 it moved to a new anchorage on the north side of Raccoon Strait and a week later to another in Hospital Cove off Angel Island.

The hardy band of settlers whom Juan Bautista de Anza led through incredible hardships all the way overland from Tubac in Sonora province had arrived on the present site of San Francisco with a platoon of soldiers and two priests by the time the San Carlos sailed a second time through the Golden Gate. With the assistance of the ship's carpenters and crew, Lieutenant Jose Joaquin Moraga's soldiers were able, on September 17, 1776, to raise the standard of Carlos III of Spain over the quarters of the commandant (commander) in the Presidio. The occasion was celebrated with a high mass, the firing of cannon, and the chanting of a fervent Te Deum.

The opening and dedication of the new Mission San Francisco de Assisi (later known as Mission Dolores) on the grass-clad slope near a small lake, dolefully named by the padres Laguna de los Dolores (Lake of the Sorrows), was delayed until October 8, 1776 because of the absence of Moraga on an exploring expedition. Moraga's expedition observed the feast-day of Saint Francis by proving conclusively that the Golden Gate was the only entrance to San Francisco Bay. "At length, " exclaimed Padre Serra on his arrival at the new mission the following year, "our Father St. Francis has advanced the sacred cross.... to the very last extremity of California; to go further requires ships."

Unfortunately, St. Francis' new mission lacked adjacent arable land. Anza's poverty-stricken settlers, and the few who came after them, soon found the fertile Santa Clara Valley to the south more suitable for them than the wind-swept sandy wastes of the area dedicated to their patron saint. Therefore, on January 12, 1777, the new Mission Santa Clara was founded down the peninsula. And three miles south of it arose the first purely civil settlement in California --- the pueblo (town) of San Jose.

Before the close of the century two more Franciscan missions had been established in the Bay area: Mission Santa Cruz, on August 28, 1791, and Mission San Jose de Guadalupe, on June 11, 1797.. The lands which reminded Anza's settlers of the fertile valleys of Valencia soon brought prosperity to these adobe outposts of Catholicism...... San Francisco - The Bay and Its Cities American Guide Series - Illustrated Hastings House - publishers - New York - 1940

This, then, was the beginning. One hundred years later the foremost industry was the product of that fertile land the pueblo of San Jose rested upon. Peaches, pears, cherries and apricots were grown in such quantities that a man named John Z. Anderson, former operator of a line of freight teams between California and Nevada, converted a railroad freight car into the first refrigerator car, by packing ice around boxes of cherries. Now the bountiful produce from the Santa Clara Valley was shipped as far away as Chicago, Illinois. In 1939 the industry employed between 15,000 and 30,000 people at work in the orchards, canneries, packing houses, and drying yards.

As late as the 1950's this agricultural heaven was called "The Valley of the Heart's Delight". Orchards stretched across the long, narrow valley as far as the eye could see; each spring the valley was painted in pinks and whites by the trees overladen with blossoms awaiting the heavy fruit that would follow. In the 1950's this Horn of Plenty was the 10th largest growing area in the United States.

World War II was over, the soldiers were home, and life in the Valley was good. Few clouds were on the horizon but there were shadows. The influx of post-war student growth was taxing the universities located there. The finances, faculty and staff of the colleges were strapped. The obvious question was where to find the money to absorb the people eager to learn.

Stanford University, located on the western boundary of Palo Alto, California, was just one college facing dire circumstances. But unlike its neighboring universities, Stanford was land rich and cash poor. The Stanfords had endured a great deal of hardship and rejection to maintain this university named in honor of their son. However, when the Stanfords dedicated "The Farm" to the University, an unbreakable provision disallowed any portion of the 8,000+ acres being sold. The solution was to create long-term leases that enabled the emerging high technology companies to find homes on property located very close to the centers of learning. Allegiances between the professors, the students, and the new companies were a natural outgrowth of the new "industrial parks" located close to college campuses.

In 1951 Varian Associates signed the first long-term lease with Stanford University. Brothers Russell and Sigurd Varian had worked rent free in a Stanford Laboratory during World War II; it was there that the Varian Brothers developed their Klystron tube. There was mutual trust between the university and the owners of the company. In 1953 Varian Associates moved into the first "high technology campus" filled with low profile buildings surrounded by wide expanses of lawns and outside benches that encouraged the workers to enjoy the abundant California sunshine.

This first industrial park became the prototype of industrial parks that spread southward swallowing up the orchards. Companies such as Westinghouse Electric, Sylvania, Fairchild Semiconductor and Shockley Transistor filled the valley southward toward the giant IBM campus which occupied the narrow southern tip of the valley where San Jose disappears and the garlic fields of Gilroy begin.

The 1950's and 1960's saw a new life form take over the valley. By 1973 this Valley of the Heart's Delight had been renamed. It 1972 the fertile valley became known the world over as Silicon Valley, a term coined by electronic writer, Don Hoeffler. So the Valley had a new name and a new breed of men: engineers who followed the teaching of the Stanford Dean and Provost known as the Intellectual Father of Silicon Valley, Frederick Emmons Terman. Terman was an acknowledged visionary who saw the future and it was NOW. He urged his followers and his students to stay and work in the very valley they were creating. He was a mentor to such notable Silicon Valley icons as David Packard and William Hewlett.

The turbulent and historical times of the 1960's and 1970's rubbed off on the valley's new company founders. Few engineers left to don the stuffed white shirts of the "safe" electronic companies of the East Coast. They found the stimulation of new discoveries preferable to the 9-5 stifling society of the east coast. The well-established, large companies located on the Atlantic sea shore were anathemas to these curious, adventuresome explorers graduating from the ever-expanding universities bordering the Pacific ocean.

Certainly it was the technology, the opportunities, the economics - it was all of these things. But just as important was the freedom of the California life style that creative minds thrive on as they reach for their goals. Gone were the three-piece suits. Blue jeans and sports shirts replaced white shirts and ties. Mercedes became rare and sports cars were found in every new company's parking lot. It did not matter if the innovative engineers had the time to drive the cars, see their wives, or go home at night to kiss their children goodnight. This was the thrill of "The Soul of the New Machine". This was Silicon Valley -- they had created it -- they loved it!

Then the 1980's struck!! Powers to be in the government and the pentagon became paranoid and frightened by this strange culture that worshipped work and innovation. The technology was moving too fast for the pentagon's old and slow machines. Creative geniuses sought private, closely-held companies with IPO's just around the corner. No one seemed interested in secure, defense work any more. Newly elected President Ronald Reagan's first executive order was the re-instatement of "Operation Exodus", a continuation of the export restrictions on high technology that had been rejected by the United States Congress. The brakes were being applied. The Evil Empire still existed in the President's mind and the Cold War had just been re-ignited.

The rivers of gold flowing from the valley would soon become rivers of blood.

Copyrighted 2000 By Virginia McCullough

First published by NewsMakingNews at http://www.newsmakingnews.com

-- suzy (suzy@nowhere.com), March 14, 2000

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