A Visit to Silicon Valley

Google Headquarters, Mtn. View, California

Google Headquarters, Mtn. View, California

When I told different friends I was going on a self-guided tour of the Silicon Valley, I received the same response from everyone including those who live and work there:  “Where will you go?”

 

The Silicon Valley, the informational technology center of the world, isn’t one town or one valley, it is a conglomeration that continues to expand. Originally named for the silicon chip creators in the area, it now encompasses all high-tech businesses.

 

Google inter-campus transportation

Google inter-campus transportation

Since I was heading to San Jose for a visit with friends, I decided to carve out the morning to do some investigating.  Silicon Valley (SV) is mostly in and around Santa Clara County and San Jose in northern California.  There are, however, many other cities, towns, universities, and businesses that are part of the SV community.

 

With only a few hours to spare, we focused on three places that morning:  the Computer History Museum, Google, and “The Birthplace of Silicon Valley.”

 

ENIAC, the first computer, 1946

ENIAC, the first computer, 1946

Just like the first computer, The Computer History Museum had a small genesis, a closet.  Through a series of different names and locales, it ended up in Mountain View in 2003.  The history of computers is extensively covered here, starting with the slide rule and abacus, and advancing to today’s myriad of devices.  You can also tour it online.

 

I liked this museum because it was vast, informational, interactive, and not dumbed-down for children.  We were here about two hours but it could have been the whole day.  The striking message was how quickly computer technology has progressed in the past few decades, as evidenced by the ENIAC exhibit.

 

ENIAC on a chip, 1975

ENIAC on a chip, 1975

Very briefly, the ENIAC computer is the first computer.  Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer was completed in 1946 and occupied 1,800 square feet.  At the museum you see photos of this once-celebrated huge machine occupying numerous rooms, scientists, and staffers juxtaposed with a photo of the same machine after it was consolidated into one nickel-size microchip.  That’s progress!  For more information about ENIAC, click here.

 

Pac Man Video Game, 1980

Pac Man Video Game, 1980s, The Computer History Museum

Just a few minutes drive from there is the “Googleplex,” the Google corporate headquarters, also in Mountain View.  Public tours are not offered, so a short drive on the public streets around their campus was an entertaining and revealing look at this innovative and ever-growing corporation.  Dominated by a playful and youthful atmosphere, you see multicolored bicycles everywhere for employees’ use on campus, as well as a candyland theme outside one building.  Google’s signature bright, bold colors could also be seen on patio umbrellas, signs, and outdoor relaxation areas in this sunny, tree-lined complex.

 

Google Campus

Google Campus

At one point a ruckus on the street caught our attention and we watched from our car as a multi-wheeled cycle glided by.  It held six employees squealing with laughter.  This is called the conference bike.  Employees hold a meeting on this bike–one person steers and all team members pedal.  Never have I seen a more uproariously fun-looking meeting in my life.

 

 

Birthplace of Silicon Valley

Birthplace of Silicon Valley

Onward to “The Birthplace of Silicon Valley,” a third venue we visited was the garage where William Hewlett and David Packard created the first Silicon Valley product:  an audio oscillator, in 1938.  A California Historic Landmark, this garage is in a residential neighborhood near Stanford University where the two students lived.  Not open to the public, we took these photos from the sidewalk on Addison Avenue in Palo Alto.

 

I liked going here because it is a grand reminder that everyone starts somewhere, and in this tiny garage is where Hewlett and Packard began a revolution that has never stopped.

 

For more information on companies and cities comprising the Silicon Valley region, I refer you to the final pages of this Wikipedia overview, click here.

 

From the most humble beginnings in a small garage, here in Silicon Valley are the roots of the information technology revolution of yesterday, today and tomorrow.   Next time I visit the area I will check out The Tech Museum in San Jose, the Intel Museum in Santa Clara, and whatever else comes up when I google this mind-boggling area.  It’s so fast-growing, I know it will be different tomorrow than it was today.

 

Photo credit:  Athena Alexander

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37 thoughts on “A Visit to Silicon Valley

  1. Interesting post, that valley holds the top notch electronic engineers in the world. Lots of brain matter if you ask me! Thanks for the tour, Jet. Did you fill any job applications? 🙂

  2. Fantastic article and photos! In the last year, I have been 26 different states and many interesting areas, but sadly have failed to make it Silicon Valley. Now I wish I would have made the effort to go! But thanks to your blog, I now I have a list of must see when I do go. Thanks!

  3. I would have really liked that tour. I visited Mountain View a long time ago, before Google was there. I remember it was a beautiful place and could see how it would inspire creativity and idea.

  4. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    If you hear the words ‘Silicon Valley’ most of us who have grown up as computers developed into our modern technology would recognise the significance. But those much younger probably take their ability to connect to the rest of the world at a touch of a button as they textspeak to their friends at any time of the day. It is wonderful that this iconic place is keeping that history alive and thanks Jet Eliot for taking the tour and us with you.

  5. Jet Dear ! I am so glad I didn’t miss this superb post ! I have just tweeted it away with great pleasure because I found it so compelling,captivating and very informative !!! Thank you my friend !!! Great share ★★★.★★★..★★★…★★★..★★★, I simply put the stars here as I am allowed to add only one Like and your post deserves many … Doda 🙂

    PS : Thanks to High Tech I’m writing this comment now …

    • Doda I am thrilled with your starry comment and am so glad you enjoyed the post. It was a fun adventure and one that I suspected would be intriguing to people who don’t live in the area, so I am grateful for your feedback. And yes, how fortunate for the high tech world that enables us to communicate across these thousands of miles. Thank you Doda, you are so kind. 😀

    • I don’t know how you ever pull yourself out of the deep blue sea, with all the beauty that surrounds you, but I know you must. lol. If you do get to the Silicon Valley sometime, it is interesting. Thank you Indah. 🙂

      • 🙂 I have to say I am not sure when will I visit US..but it is certainly on my list to visit! I think I should spend at least a month to travel around US :)) such a huge country with many wonderful places to see!

  6. Jet, I really enjoyed this post! Mostly because it was well crafted, but also because I’ve applied for a promotion that would put me in San Jose. (No, I honestly don’t stand a chance of getting the job — these positions are always “pre-selected” but I threw my hat into the ring anyway.)
    Great post. Hugs!

    • Thanks so much for your kind comments, Teagan; I’m really glad you liked the post. The Silicon Vly is an impressive honeycomb of busy bees. I think it’s admirable that you’ve applied to work there, and I wish you the best. 🙂

  7. HI there, appreciate you stopping by my crazy little blog. This was a fascinating read, I´m a very curious person, always wanting to learn everything and then finding I don´t have the time to learn everything as much as I would want to learn it. But I do pick up little things here and there. I see you write about a bunch of very different things or posts. That´s going to be great to explore.

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