Birth of Silicon Valley – First Tour

By Kashif Javaid

If you have an hour or two, you can take this Silicon Valley 10 mile driving tour and be  part of the high-tech that created Silicon Valley.

Cities covered: Palo Alto, Mountain View, CA

  1. Start with Portola expedition site in El-Palo Alto park
  2. Federal Telegraph Company Historical Marker (913 Emerson st, Palo Alto, CA 94301)
  3. HP Garage (367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301)
  4. William Shockley Transistors Lab (391 San Antonio Rd, Mountain View, CA 94040)
  5. Fairchild First Headquarter Historical Marker (844 East Charleston Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303)
  6. Computer History Museum or if hungry go to Chef Chu Restaurant where it has served Silicon Valley folks for decades

A Map is given below if you want to follow the tour as I recommended. It should take about an hour or two. When you are walking around, just imagine how some of earlier pioneer of hi-tech entrepreneurs have jumped started this valley. The big names are Fairchild, William Shockley, De-Forrest, HP etc

[Above – El-Palo Alto park]-Check out the tree on upper right side, this tree has historical significance where portola expedition in 1769 stayed after discovering the San Francisco bay. This is huge as this lead to construction of El-Camino real road and development of mission Santa Clara. Walk around the park and you can see a little history of Creek scatter through out the park

[Above – El-Palo Alto park] Plaque under the El-Palo Alto tree

[Above – Federal Telegraph Company marker] Not much to see here except the plaque, but the fact that you standing to a place where true birth of Silicon Valley really really started. Vacuum tubes were first conceived here; this lead to radio and communication revolution and laid the path to bunch of start-ups including HP (see below). Vacuum tubes are mainly replaced by transistors. We will visit the William Shockley transistor lab later in this tour.

[Above – HP Garage] Hewlett and Packard started the multimillion and multinational company in this very garage. Their first product was an oscillator which used vacuum tubes as developed in Federal Telegraph Company in our previous visit. Even though plaque say the Birthplace of Silicon Valley, but there were no silicon transistors invented at that time. so I believe this title should be reserved for our next two visits.

[Above – William Shockley Transistor lab original site] Not much to see here, but right front of the food stand, there lies a true birth of silicon valley. I must admit this birth of silicon valley was build on previous radio and communication tech boom. William Shockley was one of the scientist who is credited the invention of the transistor. He started silicon based transistor lab right in this building. because of his bad management style, eight of his employee left and started their own ventures. One of which we will meet  in the next visit.

[Above – Fairchild Semiconductor company original site] This is the beginning of modern electronics revolution when Robert Noyce, one of eight left from William Shockley lab which is right across the street, started his revolutionary silicon based integrated circuits company. Integrated circuits or IC’s are foundations of our every day electronics from cellphone to television.  It is interesting to note that Fairchild semiconductor is still alive and making integrated circuits, although they have shrunk considerably. They currently located in San Jose.

[Above Chef  Shu’s restaurant] Finally, take a break and have lunch or dinner. Don’t forget to check out all the famous peoples on their wall when you visit this restaurant.


About ExploreSilicon

My name is Kashif. I live in the heart of silicon valley and have been living here for a very long time. My passion is engineering, technology and traveling. My email is Please feel free to contact if you have any suggestion or comments on any of my posts.
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