Milestone-Proposal:The Birthplace of Silicon Valley

Revision as of 13:09, 10 April 2013 by Administrator4 (talk | contribs)

Docket #:2013-08

This is a draft proposal, that has not yet been submitted. To submit this proposal, click on "Edit with form", check the "Submit this proposal for review" box at the bottom, and save the page.

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution) Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

The Birthplace of Silicon Valley - 1955

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Santa Clara Valley Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Santa Clara Valley Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Santa Clara Valley Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: Santa Clara Valley Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name masked to public

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

391 San Antonio Rd. near corner California St.

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.

The plaque wil be installed in a plaza at the site. Plans are to have an artistic scupture memorializing the site. The sculpture is projected to be 8+ feet high. The IEEE bronze plaque will be installed in this plaza. Presently there is a bronze "site" plaque in the concrete. This present plaque will also be mounted in the plaza and will be complememtary to the IEEE milestone plaque. Photos are available on request.

Are the original buildings extant?

Not presently, but the plan is to demolish the building, which has beeen altered from the original.

Details of the plaque mounting:

The mounting will be outside in a public plaza readily accessable to the public

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The plaza is very close to the street and will be maintained by the site owners and the City of Mtn. View

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

MerloneGeier Partners

A letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property:

File:Letter of Permission MerloneGeier.doc

A letter or email from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application:

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

In bringing the first silicon semiconductor device production to Silicon Valley launched an industry. Over 400 semiconductor firms producing silicn transistors and silicon ICs emerged as a result.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

The opening of Shockley Labs in 1955 required building of a semicoductor facility which grew silicon crystals and processed silicon devices. This was the first such facility.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

The development of the first silicon based semiconductor devices in Silicon Valley, In addition the hiring of an oustanding team of semiconductor scientists that later on founded Faitchild Semiconductor.

References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.

Shockley, William and Jones, Richard V. "Crystal Growing Apparatus," U. S. Patent 2,979,386 (Filed August 2, 1956. Issued April 11, 1961)

Sah, C.T., Noyce, R.N., Shockley, W. "Carrier Generation and Recombination in p-n Junction and p-n Junction Characteristics," Proceedings of the IRE, Vol. 45, No. 9 (September 1957), pp. 1228-1243.

Sah, C.T., Sello, H., Tremere, D.A. "Diffusion of Phosphorus in Silicon Oxide Film." J. Phys. Chem. Solids Vol. 11 (1959) p. 288.

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

This Shockley banner.JPG titled "The Birthplace of Silicon Valley" showa the Shockley Labs legacy. It is resident at the Computer History Museum. It is also shown in

Cassidy: Shockley's lab has no shortage of would-be saviors

By Mike Cassidy Mercury News Columnist San Jose Mercury News


MOUNTAIN VIEW -- Now that the end times are here for the building that rightfully claims to be the birthplace of Silicon Valley, there is no shortage of ideas about how to commemorate the spot where the valley's pioneers first put silicon to work in an effort to build the world's first practical semiconductor.

The truth is, the work at Shockley labs at 391 San Antonio Road did lead to that chip, but not in a straight-line sort of way. Instead digital ground was truly broken when eight of William Shockley's employees, known as the Traitorous Eight, left him in 1957 to form their own company.

Now that the building is slated to be torn down to make way for a huge development, any number of proposals have surfaced to save it, memorialize it, enshrine it, etc.

I have my own proposal, incorporating part of the old Shockley building into the new construction. I shared my vision in a column that you can find at And I've asked you to send your ideas to me at or to send them on Twitter at @mikecassidy.

The interest in the old lab isn't surprising. The building, a many times made-over structure, is almost mythical in the minds of those who care about how Silicon Valley got its start.

"That is where Shockley hired a brilliant bunch of people," says David Laws, a curator at the Computer History Museum and one of the foremost experts on the history of the semiconductor industry. "Many of them went on to brilliant careers from there. A lot of buildings have been celebrated for a lot less."

Yes, among the Shockley crowd were Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, who went on to co-found Intel (INTC); and Jean Hoenri, who came up with the first practical way to mass produce semiconductors; and Eugene Kleiner, who helped found Kleiner Perkins, the venture capital company that invested in Sun Microsystems, Netscape, Google (GOOG), Electronic Arts (ERTS), Amazon and AOL to name a few. Moreover, historians say that as many as 400 companies, or Fairchildren, trace their roots to Fairchild.

So, the ideas: The boldest (and as is the case with bold things, perhaps the least likely) is being put forth by retired Palo Alto attorney Harold Hohbach, himself a bit of a character. Hohbach would like developer Merlone Geier Partners to give the building to a non-profit that would operate it as a museum, complete with replicas of artifacts of Shockley's time.

"Just seeing an old building will never get you anywhere," Hohbach says. "I think it's important to preserve the technology that they developed in that building."

Hohbach doesn't have just a passing fancy in the history of Silicon Valley. The 91-year-old says his law partner was William Shockley's patent attorney. Not only that, he's spent the past decade commissioning and attempting to curate a series of seven huge paintings depicting innovators grouped around their breakthroughs. There's Shockley, Noyce and Moore. There's Russell Varian, Ray Dolby, Reynolds Johnson, Douglas Englebart, Gene Amdahl, Steve Wozniak and on and on.

Hohbach realizes there are details to work out with his plans for 391 San Antonio -- such as who is going to pay for all this. But he is not one to back down even from a long shot.

When it comes to proposals for the building, the odds on favorite, no doubt, is the preliminary one put forth by Merlone Geier. The company owns the building, after all, and is the midst of a $500-million remake of the old San Antonio Center. To their credit, the executives at Merlone Geier know they are now the stewards of an important legacy. The Shockley building itself does not delight them. It is old and ugly and in disrepair. But the story of the rise of Silicon Valley enthralls them.

"I think a lot of people would look at this as, 'Oh gee, now I have to deal with this issue," says Merlone Geier vice president Mike Grehl. "To me, this is going to be a neat amenity to the project to create a uniqueness."

What Merlone Geier has in mind is an artistic memorial at the site of the building on San Antonio Road. Then the developer would add an educational area, perhaps in an outdoor plaza in the development, that would tell the story of what happened in Shockley labs and how that spawned Silicon Valley and the digital revolution.

The company has enlisted a couple of former Shockley employees and Dick Ahrons, of the IEEE, an organization of electrical and electronics engineers. He likes the idea of an artistic memorial and what he calls a "technology plaza" that would be open to the public.

My idea for the building, he says, raises a number of issues.

"I thought about keeping the front part of the building, as a facade. And you look at it and you look at it and, it's just not there anymore," he says, noting that the building has been through extensive remodels.

He says my idea -- using the facade as an office building entryway stocked with replicas of Shockley-era tools and devices -- would require constant upkeep. And it would place the memorial inside a private building, which might restrict public access. Artifacts of the era, he says, belong at the nearby Computer History Museum (which does have some Shockley artifacts). And maybe some sort of facade idea would work there, too, though it would be quite an expense to refurbish the facade and move it across town.

"If it's at the museum, it's open to the public and so on," he says.

The good news in all this is that the people coming up with these ideas all care about preserving the history of how 391 San Antonio Road changed the world. And better still, chances are that new ideas will continue to surface as the discussion goes on.

Contact Mike Cassidy at or 408-920-5536. Follow him at

Bronze Plaque and roadside sign.

(Richard Ahrons is presently a member of the committee organized by the property owners to memorialize the site. The present draft of a plan is to erect a memorial artistic sculpture at the site. Richard Ahrons has presented the case for this site before the Mtn. View City Council)