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Previous Research on Silicon Valley- 5/5

Lastly, Wolfe reminds us of the reason why the demand for transistors was directly correlated to WWII. Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) followed a trajectory of previous military communication research and emerged as a new competitive advantage in military operations. Developed by the Army to calculate artillery and bomb trajectories, ENIAC was the first electronic general-purpose computer that could solve "a large class of numerical problems" through reprogramming. This reprogramming was done by replacing large vacuum tubes with the soft and patient touch of industrious women operators. Vacuum tubes were both bulky and generated too much heat. That is why "the glamorous words in the semiconductor business became computers and miniaturization." (Wolfe, 1983)


Though the transformations may seem drastic, the transfer or the spillovers of knowledge, influence, and industry direction appear to consistently dominate the Silicon Valley techno sphere. Perhaps not distinct to Silicon Valley, but it appears as though, organizationally, each era focuses on select patriarchal influencers who continue on as the next leader in the industrious yet canonical Silicon Valley regime/dynasty.


In yet another paper from Understanding Silicon Valley scholars Homa Bahrami & Stuart Evans, they highlight the stream of what they define as "kaleidoscopic changes." (Kenney, 166) By focusing on the flexibility of its turnover and "flexible recycling" as Bahrami & Evans characterize the fluid "impermanence" (175) embedded in the region. Spinoffs as spillovers, falling into place, resembling a waterfall that at times collapses, plunging workers and techniques into where technology wants to go. Though the authors like to comment on the organizational makeup, they mostly take on the ecosystem at large.


Besides pointing out the "incessant" creation of new ventures, rapid recycling of failures, and continuous interfirm mobility, they highlight the "rapid transmission of widespread diffusion of information" (181). Bahrami & Evans attribute the regional transparency of knowledge and information to the proximity of companies, the fact that new products are alpha and beta tested by potential customers and users, and the release of technical information as the main reasons for information cross-pollination. (176) With that said, it is fair to postulate that maybe one of the contributing factors to corner a company headquarters next to the bay, such as Facebook and Google, and IBM within Almaden hills; isolated from the traffic. Regardless, what is important to us in this project is the acknowledgment of structures and species, but most importantly flow, forwarding all this as a force. I will argue such is the fluid composition that is Silicon Valley: it is all-encompassing. Such spillover, flow, and reincarnations, whether formal or informal, create individual firms and industry movements. As a dynamic technological container, Silicon Valley creates waves like a spring. It is a fertile valley indeed.

Steve Jobs and Robert Noyce at dinner. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia


Genealogy of all the companies that spun off from Fairchild are forever named “Fairchildren.” Photo Courtesy of Computer History Museum


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