Silicon Valley originally designated the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area, roughly corresponding to the physical area of the Santa Clara Valley, containing companies producing and/or applying silicon chips. Hewlett-Packard, Xerox PARC, and, later, Apple are famous examples of such companies. The term Silicon Valley was later extended to mean all of the high-tech businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- The décor was standard-issue Silicon Valley tech: industrial shag carpet, exposed ceilings revealing ventilation ducts and fire-retardant-covered steel beams, and the odd piece of home-brewed installation art: an imposing Lego wall featuring the blocky murals left by employees, another wall papered with the vaguely Orwellian posters the in-house printshop churned out.
- The chip industry gave the region a new name when Don Hoefler, a columnist for the weekly trade paper Electronic News, began a series in January 1971 entitled "Silicon Valley USA." The forty-mile Santa Clara Valley, which stretches from South San Francisco through Palo Alto to San Jose, has as its commercial backbone El Camino Real, the royal road that once connected California's twenty-one mission churches and is now a bustling avenue that connects companies and startups accounting for a third of the venture capital investment in the United States each year. "Growing up, I got inspired by the history of the place," Jobs said. "That made me want to a part of it."
- Design came to Silicon Valley on the heels of engineering, and there were no reliable guides or even a clear sense of what it meant to "design" a variable attenuator or a helical-scan video recorder—much less of their relevance to the consumer market. Steinhilber reflected that "When I started out in the design field in New York most of our work was for the "white goods" industry (major appliances). When I moved to Ohio I had to learn the language of the machine-tool industry. But here was an infant field whose vocabulary was still in gestation. They were making it up as they went along." ... The first generation of practitioners approached this terra incognita on the basis of creativity, intuition, instinct, and taste, and they sought out inspiration from wherever they could find it: HP's Carl Clement traveled to MIT to experience "creative engineering"; Myron Stolaroff retreated to a cabin in the Sierra Nevada where he administered LSD to eight fellow Ampex engineers in an effort to unlock their latent creativity. At the Stanford Research Institute, computer pioneer Douglas Engelbart dabbled in the human potential movement and enrolled his unwitting staff in est seminars. ... With every new technological lurch the need for a more specialized set of professional skills became apparent, but also, paradoxically, for a wider vision.
- ... I really do think, and not just because I happen to be writing a book about it, that the business of creating and foisting new technologies upon others that goes on in Silicon Valley is near the core of the American experience. The United States obviously occupies a strange place in the world. It is the capital of innovation, of material prosperity, of a certain kind of energy, of certain kinds of freedom, and of transience. Silicon Valley is to the United States what the United States is to the rest of the world. It is one of those places, unlike the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but like Las Vegas, that are unimaginable anywhere but in the United States.
- Ronald Reagan was right. The high-tech revolution was an only-in-America story. And he and so many others were right to laud people like Jobs and Gates and Hewlett and Packard as entrepreneurial heroes. Silicon Valley could never have come to be without the presence of visionary, audacious business leaders. Reagan and his conservative allies also were right when they argued that overly regulated markets and nationalized industries could present big hurdles to entrepreneurial markets—many of the globe's would-be Silicon Valleys attest to that.
Yet, in its celebration of the free market, the individual entrepreneur, and the miracles of a wholly new economy, the Silicon Valley mythos left out some of the most interesting, unprecedented, and quintessentially America things about the modern tech industry. For these entrepreneurs were not lone cowboys, but very talented people whose success was made possible by the work of many other people, networks, and institutions.
- Margaret O'Mara, The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America. 9 July 2019. p. 5. ISBN 9780399562181.
- * ... I realize that my career at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (better known as Xerox PARC) has afforded me a much wider view of civilization. In particular, it has provided me with endless opportunities to meet with visitors from all parts of the world and in turn to visit nearly all parts of the world. Everyone takes Silicon Valley seriously now. With these visits, hardly a day goes by that I don't get asked to explain the magical brew that makes up Silicon Valley. What is it? What makes it so special? Can it be copied? If not, why not? And if yes, how? And what about that famous culture? What does it feel like to work for a large East Coast company and yet be a part of the Valley? Does this give me a different perspective—having to bridge those two quite different cultures daily? And how are those cultures different?
- ... I am always skeptical of copying things. ... Just like you shouldn't try to copy Microsoft or Facebook, copying Silicon Valley is probably also the wrong idea. ... One reason it's the wrong idea is that we don't even actually know what makes Silicon Valley work. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's non-compete agreements are not enforced in California. Maybe it is that there are these crazy network effects. ... All kinds of different explanations ... one can give. Even if we wanted to, I am not sure we know what makes it work. And then, I think, even more fundamentally when you are copying something, you are setting yourself up to be defined in a lesser way. If you are the Oxford of Iceland, that's not quite Oxford ... The something of somewhere is often the nothing of nowhere.
- Peter Thiel, (October 9, 2020)"Peter Thiel Successful Businesses are Based on Secrets | Wired". (quote at 35:22 of 1:11:12)