Silicon Valley History
as seen on Next Step!

(Click here to view the RealPlayer video of Rob's Interview) ~ (Download RealPlayer)

Our next story is about something that is just about as prolific as viruses and bacteria, a $200 billion dollar a year hi-tech business that you don't hear much about, and you certainly don't really notice. But you do use this product every day, all the time.

Have you guessed what it is yet? We're talking about transistors, the foundation, the bedrock of our information society.

The transistor was invented in 1948, and then in 1958 Silicon Valley pioneer Bob Noyce came up with this idea for the integrated circuit, which allowed you to put a number of transistors on a single chip. Then in the late-1960's, another Silicon Valley pioneer by the name of Gordon Moore postulated that the number of transistors that could be placed on a single chip would double every year to 18 months. Moore was right. Since then the rule has become known as Moore's Law, and these days hundreds of transistors are produced on a single chip. 

Many of the semi-conductor pioneers are still living here in the Valley. But time is marching on, and one of those pioneers, LSI Logic co-founder Rob Walker, decided that now is the time to record their stories.

"It's said that 25 transitors are being produced per second for every man, woman and child in the world. And in fact there are more transitors produced in the world than there are grains of rice," says Walker.

Rob Walker started his Silicon Valley career in 1958, going on to co-found LSI Logic. Now he's devoting a good chunk of his time to making sure that early Silicon Valley semi-conductor history isn't lost.

"Why is the printing press relevant? It's not hi-tech right? It has certainly changed the world. And so did the steam engine and so did agriculture, in fundamental ways and I think semi-conductors have done the same thing," says Walker.

Walker decided to capture the stories of some of Silicon Valley's semi-conductor pioneers, now all mostly retired. He donated the interviews to Stanford University. Stanford's Henry Lowood curates the collection, called the Silicon Genesis Project. Lowood says the business history is important, but believes the video-taped interviews offer something more.

"It's also very interesting as cultural history," says Dr. Henry Lowood of Stanford University. "Because Rob has done the interviews you see a little bit about the way they live, how they think about themselves, what they think about other people, you get all those aspects and I find all of them very interesting."

The Silicon Genesis collection can be seen at Stanford's Green Library, open to anyone conducting research. Soon, Walker hopes they will be able to put the interviews online. But in the meantime, Walker is going to continue conducting his interviews, and hopes that others will do the same, covering other aspects of Silicon Valley history.

For the original article, click here

"Next Step" is a weekly half-hour television program, co-produced by KRON-TV and Imagine Media's Business 2.0 Magazine. The mission of "Next Step" is to cover the Digital Revolution from a front-row seat in the Silicon Valley.

"Next Step" episodes touch on such topics as:
 

  • Key industry visionaries and newsmakers - what they're doing and how 
  • The human side of life and business in the Internet Age, and new "life" models emerging for people living in the Internet economy 
  • Making technology meaningful, accessible and relevant to daily life -- tips and information on software, hardware, the Internet, technology trends, products for children and multimedia innovation
"Next Step" is seen on Saturdays at 10 AM on KRON-TV (Channel 4 in the San Francisco Bay Area), and several times each weekend on BayTV (Channel 35 on most Bay Area cable systems. Click here for precise BayTV airtimes.

"Next Step" is supported by a companion website, www.nextstep.com, produced by SFGate (www.sfgate.com).

On KRON, BayTV and SF Gate , "Next Step" replaces "New Media News," the internationally syndicated program which had been co-produced by KRON and Jones Intercable's Knowledge TV since 1995. In June of 1999 Discovery Communications purchased Knowledge TV. With nearly 500 episodes produced between 1995 and 1999, "New Media News" became one of the longest continuously running technology shows.

The program is co-hosted by Suzanne Shaw and Stan Bunger. Shaw, a Northern California reporter and anchor since 1975, is anchor for KRON's "First 4 News" and "NewsCenter 4 at 5". Bunger has spent nearly 20 years in broadcast journalism, including 10 years as morning news anchor and reporter at KCBS Radio.