The fathers of Silicon Valley: the Traitorous Eight.

Thanks to a conversation with an EPFL colleague, I was recently reminded the early history of Silicon Valley. I knew about Shockley, Fairchild and the Traitorous Eight. I did not know Shockley had been funded by Beckman (thanks Andrea :-)), that was the point of the recent conversation.

What is interesting is to have a look at the Traitorous 8 also. Their history (cf Wikipédia) is well-known, what may be less known is their background.

The next table gives the origin, education and age of the 8 traitors, the 8 engineers who left Shockley labs to found Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 (click on it to enlarge).

They can be considered as the real fathers of Silicon Valley. The famous poster entitled Silicon Valley Genealogy is certainly a convincing illustration of it as well as their Post-Fairchild activities.

The next image is extracted from the one above (left, mid-height level, corresponding to 1957).

A few comments:
– 5 were educated on the East Coast, 2 on the West Coast and 1 in Europe.
– Indeed, three were from Europe.
– 6 had a PhD (3 from MIT), all had a bachelor.
– They were between 28 and 34-year old in 1957.

6 thoughts on “The fathers of Silicon Valley: the Traitorous Eight.

  1. Pingback: Start-Up: the book » Blog Archive » Europeans and Silicon Valley

  2. hlebret Post author

    Well you are not wrong, but HP was created in 1939 and nothing really happened in the following years whereas Fairchild was a an acceleration thanks to the semiconductor. But Terman at Stanford could be seen as a grandfather too. Thanks!


  3. Ricky

    This account of the history of the Valley starts a decade or two too late. Shockley and the Fairchildren brought the transistors and the silicon, perhaps, but they were working within a firmly established high tech innovation center cultivated by Fred Terman, with the Varians, Hewlett and Packard central to that initial undertaking. Terman surely deserves credit for attracting early tech firms to Palo Alto and creating a favorable environment and culture in which they could flourish.

  4. Hervé Lebret Post author

    Ricky I agree with you Silicon valley can be dated much before 1957, particularly with HP. Still the entrepreneurial unique features of SV began, I think, with Fairchild and the traitorous 8. Thanks for the comment!


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