Silicon Valley has served as a high-tech Mecca for the United States and the world. Over the past few decades, the best and brightest technological minds have converged on the area to collaborate and compete, rapidly evolving the electronics and computer industries. The result has been a new world in which communicating and obtaining information -- any information -- are made incredibly easy. The following men not named Steve Jobs made immense contributions to the Valley, enhancing our lives exponentially.
The first major innovation that occurred in Silicon Valley came from De Forest, an inventor who's considered one of the fathers of the electronic age. While working for the Federal Telegraph Company in Palo Alto, he made his Audion tube, which he had invented just a few years earlier, function as an amplifier, enabling him to sell it to the telephone company to use for transcontinental phone calls. The ability to amplify a signal led to the creation of radio, television, and computers -- and the electronics industry as a whole. Little did he know that his little scenic area in California would explode into a hub of technological innovation.
Shockley settled in Mountain View California in 1956 after departing from Bell Labs, founding the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. Co. Inventor of the transistor -- for which we won the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics -- he was a major advocate of using silicon to construct the devices as opposed to germanium. His attempts to use silicon and thus improve the device failed, and several of his engineers, discontent with his merciless management style, left to form Fairchild Semiconductor.
One of those engineers who departed was Noyce, who eventually became known as "The Mayor of Silicon Valley." While leading Fairchild, he invented the integrated chip made of silicon, the next major contribution to the semiconductor industry. Soon after, he joined Gordon Moore and formed Intel, where Ted Hoff invented the microprocessor. Unlike Shockley, Noyce valued a work environment that was friendly and relaxed, hoping that it would encourage better productivity. Other Silicon Valley companies have adopted the same style and experienced equally as positive results.
Another unhappy worker at Shockley Semiconductor, Moore channeled his energy into building something new alongside Noyce. He served as Executive Vice President of Intel until 1975, and a few years later, he became Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. By developing memory chips, the company leaped to the forefront of the industry, eventually mass producing microprocessor chips for PCs. Moore famously authored Moore's Law, which states that the number of components placed on a silicon chip doubles every two years.
Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988, Packard has overseen numerous advancements in the industry. Forming Hewlett-Packard with William Hewlett in 1939, they made their mark on American culture immediately, selling an oscillator to Walt Disney Studios to use on the soundtrack of Fantasia. Located in Stanford Research Park beginning in the mid-1950s, HP took advantage of the nearby educational opportunities, allowing its employees to pursue graduate degrees at Stanford part-time. This enabled HP to become the world's leading manufacturer of computers, calculators, and printers.
Hewlett met Packard while they were pursuing their undergraduate degrees at Stanford. The relationship they forged resulted in the creation of Hewlett-Packard, a name that was determined by coin flip. The company hit the ground running, as Hewlett developed the resistance-capacitance audio oscillator. He remained involved in management until 1987. Interestingly, during his leadership, he contributed to the development of perhaps the Valley's greatest mind, Steve Jobs. When Jobs was in eighth grade, Hewlett received a call from him asking for assistance with a project. Impressed, Hewlett offered him a summer job, which he accepted. That's where Jobs joined forces with Steve Wozniak.
Working out of a family garage, Wozniak and Jobs built a user-friendly computer worthy of competing with IBM. When Wozniak's employer, HP, showed no interest in adopting the computer, he and Jobs founded Apple Computer. The release of the Apple II computer revolutionized the PC market, providing users with a central processing unit, a floppy disk drive, color graphics, and a keyboard. He split from Apple in 1985 after a falling out with Jobs, but was nationally recognized for his achievement at the company, winning the National Medal of Technology by the President of the United States.
As a young man, Ellison bounced around from job to job, eventually settling at Amdahl Corporation, where he contributed to the creation of the first IBM-compatible mainframe system. Soon after, he along with three of his colleagues departed to found Software Development Labs. Recognizing the potential of SQL, he won a contract to develop a relational database management system. On the side, they developed a system for commercial use, naming it RDBMS Oracle. Once IBM adopted it, Oracle began its ascension, going public in 1986. Ellison has overseen the peaks and valleys experienced by the company, and has been rewarded handsomely, as he's recognized as the third-richest man in America.