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The first commercially produced silicon transistor was conceived on San Antonio Road, Mountain View, California, right in the center of Silicon Valley. It was created by a group of brilliant scientists and engineers at Shockley Semiconductor, led by William Shockley, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1956.  All too soon, in 1957, the group broke up and spread out across the Valley to pursue their ideas by forming new semiconductor companies. The most notable at that time was Fairchild Semiconductor, which was formed by eight of the Shockley semiconductor employees, led by Dr. Robert Noyce.

The region now universally known as Silicon Valley is widely accepted as the international center of technological innovation and technology-based industries of the Information Age. Semiconductor technology innovation made this possible and continues to be the enabling technology of this century, much as the steam engine enabled the industrial revolution in the late 1800s.

Many of these brilliant semiconductor visionary pioneers are still alive today and available to reveal their motivations and backgrounds, describe the history of their achievements, and explain the vision and circumstances that shaped their work and thus revolutionized our global society. The Silicon Genesis project seeks to record their amazing innovative histories in an audio/video library capturing the actual words of those individual pioneers responsible for so much of semiconductor technology innovation and the industries that have grown around it.

Rob headshotThe Silicon Genesis project was the inspiration of Rob Walker, a Silicon Valley native and Silicon Valley educated electrical engineer, who has been involved with semiconductors since the 1960s at Fairchild, Intel and as a founder of LSI Logic. Rob correctly recognized at an early stage that if the remarkable stories of these pioneers were not captured on audio/video files for the benefit of future public access, they would be untold and lost forever. That would be a huge loss. So he decided to co-operate with the Stanford University Libraries to make as many recordings as reasonable before time ran out. The resulting video recordings and interview transcripts would become the basis for a permanent collection at Stanford, available to the public. The interviews were to be conducted in a casual atmosphere, so as to capture the character and details of each person’s story in their own words.

Rob's active engagement in the preservation of Silicon Valley's history began over two decades ago. He is the author of Silicon Destiny: The Story of Application Specific Integrated Circuits and LSI Logic Corporation (Milpitas: C.M.C. Publications, 1992; available at walkerresearch.com). Transcripts of the interviews he conducted and much of the documentation he gathered for research on this book have also been deposited in the Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, and are available to researchers. Silicon Genesis followed Silicon Destiny as an ambitious project, with careful attention to the long-term preservation of these valuable interviews.

Robert Blair

Rob has recently decided to retire in order to spend more time traveling with his family, and has brought in Robert Blair, another Silicon Valley and Europe semiconductor veteran to oversee the project. Robert will continue the interview series, so that the work in progress can continue with its vision intact and remain on track for as long as possible.

To date, they have conducted more than 70 interviews for the Silicon Genesis Project, and intend to complete over 100. All of the interviews in this series have been videotaped in broadcast-quality Betacam, with the more recent interviews available in High Definition. Archival and viewing copies are available in the Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, in addition to the streamed media available on this website. They are unedited and average 60 minutes in length. Note also that full transcripts are available for the interviews here, as well as links to the full interviews streamed in a format that viewable in a web browser .


For further information about the Silicon Genesis Project, please contact:

Henry Lowood
Curator for History of Science & Technology Collections
Stanford University Libraries
Email: lowood@stanford.edu
Phone: 650-723-4602

Or for questions about access to the original videotapes at Stanford:
Department of Special Collections
E-mail: specialcollections@stanford.edu
Phone: 650-725-1022

To recommend additional interview subjects, please contact:

Robert N. Blair
Silicon Genesis Project
Email: RNB333@live.com
Mobile: (+1) 408-221-5244



We wish to acknowledge the generous support of the Corrigan-Walla Foundation; the Semiconductor Industry Association; CMP Media, publishers of EE Times; and other donors.

For your information, here is a selection of other projects offering glimpses into the history of the semiconductor industry and Silicon Valley:

The Antique Chip Collectors' Page

The Chip History Center

The Computer History Museum Oral Histories Collection

EE Times

Great Microprocessors of the Past and Present

SEMI Oral Histories, e.g., Brad Mattson

The Silicon Engine: A Timeline of Semiconductors in Computing

Smithsonian Institution-National Museum of American History's Chip Collection

Stanford and the Silicon Valley Oral History Series

Finding aids (by subject) for archival collections in the Stanford Univ. Libraries (e.g., "electrical engineering" and "computer science")