The History of Silicon Valley in Pictures

facts about silicon valley

Silicon Valley is the only place on Earth not trying to figure out how to become Silicon Valley. – Robert Metcalfe, co-inventor, Ethernet

What makes Silicon Valley so successful? There are lots of reasons why Silicon Valley is special, but what makes it stand out is the density of people working on tech startups. And, by the way, our app development company Arkenea, is based in Silicon Valley too!

In other parts of the world (and even within the US, outside of silicon valley) it’s not common to give up the normal career path and start a startup.

An entrepreneurial environment, a symbiotic relationship with Stanford, presence of venture capitalists, and a pay-it-forward culture where it is ‘okay’ to fail, is what defines Silicon Valley.

But, Silicon Valley wasn’t created in a day. It has a long history, probably more than a century.

In our visual series, we showed you some gorgeous home offices, office desks of famous entrepreneurs, creative ways to solve your employees’ problems, and your worth in dollars as a user of the biggest tech companies.

Today, in this series, we’ve brought you historical pictures of Silicon Valley – before Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a host of other major tech companies setup shop there.

Silicon Valley, earlier known as the Santa Clara Valley, was the largest fruit production and packing region in the world with 39 canneries. It was also the world’s largest center for canned goods and fruit processing.

Silicon Valley History

Source: History San José

Frederick Emmons Terman taught electrical engineering in Stanford and always encouraged his students to start businesses in California. Under his guidance, Stanford’s fledgling engineering school was turned into an innovation engine and thus he is called the ‘Father of Silicon Valley’.

father of silicon valley

Source: haikudeck

Varian Associates is known as one of the first high-tech company of Silicon Valley founded by Stanford alumni in the 1930s to build military radar components.

Early varian associates

Source: agilent

In 1939, with the encouragement of their professor, Frederick Terman, Stanford alumni David Packard and William Hewlett established a little electronics company in a Palo Alto garage. The company today is called HP computers.

first company of silicon valley

Source: Silicon Valley Historical

Frederick Terman proposed the leasing of Stanford’s lands for use as an office park, named the Stanford Industrial Park (later Stanford Research Park). The construction of the Stanford Industrial Park marked the beginning of the expansion of tech companies into the Valley.

Vintage pictures of Silicon Valley

Source: Fortune

In 1943, IBM opened its first plant in San Jose, at the corner of Sixteenth and Saint John Streets. The facility accommodated just over 100 IBM employees.

silicon valley history

Source: picturesdotnews

About an year before Nikita Khrushchev’s visit, IBM announced the 305 RAMAC — the first computer which came with a hard disk and had a capacity of a whopping 5 MB, using a hard-drive unit the size of two refrigerators.

History of Apple

Source: Fast Company

The term ‘Silicon Valley’ was used occasionally mostly by easterners, who would mention making a trip to Silicon Valley – until in 1971, when it was popularized in a series of print articles called SiliconValley USA, written by Don Hoefler for Electronic News.

how was silicon valley named

Source: netvalley

The heart of early Silicon Valley lay at Walker’s Wagon Wheel, a tavern in Mountain View. It was a place for for tech folk to meet, greet, celebrate successes, recruit staff and exchange solutions to common problems. But it’s gone now, it was bulldozed in 2003.

Walker’s Wagon Wheel tavern

Source: scaruffi

Another option for entertainment was Fox Theatre in Redwood City, California. Now, you can find many startup events hosted at this venue.

best places in silicon valley

Source: Silicon Valley Historical

Commuting by bike in Santa Clara was a staple transport. The Bay Area’s bullet trains from San Francisco to San Jose were often squished with bike commuters.

facts about silicon valley

Source: jdvhotels

Steve Wozniak, built a home computer from a cheap microprocessor, and showed it to the Homebrew Computer Club in Menlo Park. Later, Steve Wozniak along with Steve Jobs, founded Apple Computer.

how was Apple founded

Source: extremetech

Byte Shop, a computer store in Mountain View, California was the first store that sold Apple I, first-computer from Apple. Steve Jobs arranged to sell 50 computers to the Byte Shop at $500 each.

best startups of silicon valley

Source: scaruffi

In the 1980s and ’90s the Silicon Valley landscape changed further. The economy had shifted from semiconductors to personal computer manufacturing and then to computer software and Internet-based business.

best innovations of silicon valley

Source: Medium

John Warnock and Chuck Geschke (seated at left), founded Adobe Systems in 1982. In this picture from 1988 they were preparing to release Adobe Photoshop.

Silicon valley best innovations

Source: Medium

This was the day Steve Jobs raised $20 million for Apple. He hosted a formal lunch for future presidential candidate Ross Perot and the next board of directors in the middle of the abandoned warehouse, which he planned to turn into the next factory.

silicon valley

Source: Inc

During his re-election campaign, President Bill Clinton attended a fund  raiser thrown by the top CEOs of Silicon Valley.

first company of silicon valley

Source: Medium

Nidhi Shah

Nidhi is the head of content marketing at Arkenea, a mobile app consultancy building experience rich apps for startups and businesses.