Another story that was influential in the unfolding of Silicon Valley is the semiconductor story. The two main characters are William Shockley and Robert Noyce, and Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation. The story is a famous one, and I will not cover it in this project but will focus on these two leaders and their overall character. Explaining a bit more of the personal background of Shockley, we learn from Wolfe that Shockley was an only child, and the reason he comes back to Palo Alto was that his widowed mother was ill. Shockley's father was a mining engineer who spent years out on remote Durango terrain, in Nevada, Manchuria, and all over the world.
On the other hand, Noyce's father, Ralph Sr., was a congregational minister. Noyce was part of a team working under Shockley and his company, Shockley Semiconductor Corporation. They defect and become known as the "traitorous 8." Noyce was essentially the captain and wanted to lead a different type of company; an antithesis to Shockley. He leads this team under the branch of Fairchild Semiconductor to invent the microchip and later co-founded Intel.
Following the trail to Noyce, the best resource to explain his path and the regime he created comes from a lonely 1983 Esquire Magazine article by veteran journalist Tom Wolfe. Titled "The Tinkering of Robert Noyce - How the Sun Rose on the Silicon Valley" (1983), it tells the story of Robert Noyce's childhood in Grinnell, Iowa, as well as delving into his work ethic and religious motivations. It is rich with anecdotes that explain Silicon Valley from the back alleys that only the following characters can illuminate for us. Wolfe remarks, "Both of his grandfathers were Congregational ministers." (Wolfe, 1983) He writes, "No one denied that the Noyce boys were polite and proper in all outward appearances. They were pumped full of Congregationalism until it was spilling over."
As it has been the tradition in this project not to cut short the original words of worthy authors, Wolfe's descriptions deserve a highlight as well:
"Noyce was like a great many bright young men and women from Dissenting Protestant families in the Middle West after the Second World War... They had been led through the church door and prodded toward religion, but it had never come alive for them... So they slowly walked away from the church and silently, without so much as a growl of rebellion, congratulated themselves on their independence of mind and headed into another way of life. Only decades later, in most cases, would they discover how, absentmindedly, inexplicably, they had brought the old ways along for the journey nonetheless. It was as if... through some extraordinary mistake... they had been sewn into the linings of their coats!" (Wolfe, 1983)
The reason I am sharing the entirety of the quote is that the very last line elucidates one of the points of this thesis: though hidden, like strings, strong religious-oriented beliefs are inseparable from the industrious man, which we will delineate more in the section regarding Theo-Technology and Monastic-like Tribes towards the end of the book "Silicon Valley Signals: Technological Enthusiasm & the Times."
Known as the “Father of Silicon Valley,” William Shockley founded Shockley Semiconductors and won the Nobel Prize in 1956. A year later his lack of charisma, old-school management style, and paranoia invited heresy and defection among his founding team. Mythologized as the story of the “traitorous 8,” this spinoff set the precedent which began the dialectic of a network of firms that later became the culture of startups in Silicon Valley. - Photo courtesy of Intel Museum.