Silicon Valley Historical Timeline

1891—Stanford University is founded by Governor Leland and Jane Stanford.

1903—Valdemar Poulsen demonstrates the first arc radio transmitter for high-quality voice transmission in his Palo Alto laboratory. He later invents the first practical device for magnetic sound recording and reproduction.

1912—Lee de Forest invents the vacuum tube amplifier in Palo Alto. His “audion” became the foundation for radio, radar, television, computers, and the electronics age. Stanford faculty and officials helped finance the work, the first of many cooperative partnerships between higher education and Silicon Valley.

1930’s—Professor Frederick Terman is recruited by Stanford University and starts a lifelong promotion of the benefits of the Valley. Later, Terman becomes known as the father of Silicon Valley.

1937—Encouraged by Terman, William Hewlett and David Packard start a company to produce their audio-oscillator. Walt Disney becomes their first customer, purchasing the product for use on the film Fantasia.

1937—Stanford professor William Hansen teams with brothers Sigurd and Russell Varian to develop the klystron tube. Their work continues through WWII and leads to the development of radar and the 1948 founding of Varian Associates.

1946—The Stanford Research Institute is founded to support non-profit research.

1951—Carl Djerassi invents synthetic progesterone, "the pill," in a Mexico City laboratory. Later, Stanford's Prof. Fred Terman recruited Djerassi and Syntex to set up a research center, and later corporate headquarters, at the Stanford Industrial Park

1951—Stanford Industrial Park is established as a “center of high technology close to a cooperative university.” Varian Associates, General Electric, and Eastman Kodak quickly sign leases.

1952—IBM locates a key research facility to the valley.

1956—Dr. William Shockley founds Shockley Transistor Corporation to produce semiconductor-based transistors to replace unreliable vacuum tubes. Early employees read like a who’s who of the high-technology future.

1956—Lockheed Corporation locates an aircraft division in Stanford Industrial Park.

1958—Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and six other engineers from Shockley Transistor found Fairchild Semiconductor, the first company to mass produce integrated circuits.

1958—NASA moves a research facility to the valley.

1963 —Syntex Corporation and Varian form joint venture Synvar Associates to intertwine high technology and medical science.

1968—Douglas Engelbart and team at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) give first public demonstration of the computer mouse, windows, and networking.

1968—Alejandro Zaffaroni leaves Syntex to form Alza and develop new technologies for time-release medications.

1968—Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce found Intel.

1970—Intel introduces first 1k DRAM chip.

1971—Alan Shugart invents the floppy disk for data storage.

1973—Intel introduces 8088 CPU and ushers in the new era of the microprocessor.

1973—Stanley N. Cohen of Stanford University and Herbert W. Boyer of UC San Francisco invent a technique for splicing genes, leading to the formation of the bio-tech industry.

1974—Development of the Graphical User Interface (GUI) at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) led to the intuitive design of Apple's Macintosh computer and Microsoft Windows.

1975—The Homebrew Computer Club is founded to experiment with home computers. Club members go on to found nearly 20 computer companies.

1976—Homebrew founder Steve Wozniak teams with Steve Jobs to form Apple Computer and build the first microcomputer in Jobs' garage in Cupertino.

1970's—Relational database technology invented at IBM's Almaden Research Center.

1982—The Stanford University Network is the catalyst behind the founding of Sun Microsystems. Silicon Graphics uses the same network chips to create its first graphic workstations.

1984—Cisco Systems is founded by Leonard Bosack and Sandra Lerner.

1989—Don Eigler, a researcher at IBM’s Almaden Research center, uses nanotechnology to spell “IBM” with 35 xenon atoms.

1993—Stanford Professor Jim Clark hires Mosaic web browser pioneer Mark Andreesen to found Mosaic Communications, predecessor to Netscape Communications Corporation and the browser that made the Internet an everyday tool.

1994—Jerry Yang and David Filo start a directory of websites that explodes into Yahoo!.

2003—Google purchases Pyra Labs to support blogs, today’s online community forums.

2005—Facebook moves to Palo Alto to start the era of social networks.

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