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San Francisco’s journey from fruit orchard to tech giant is absolutely extraordinary

A young man sitting on a fence in San Francisco, looking at the Golden Gate Bridge.

The home of Apple, Google, Facebook, Intel and Stanford University, Silicon Valley in San Francisco has long been the epicentre for all things tech. The most southern point of the San Francisco Bay area in the U.S state of California is today a thriving hub of large tech corporations and thousands of start-ups.

A neighborhood which has become worth nearly $3 trillion in just 100 years.

So how did the land of entrepreneurship and innovation come about?

Santa Clara Valley

Long before the days of Silicon Valley, the area was formally known as ‘Santa Clara Valley’ aka “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”. Infamous for its orchards & flowers, it was up until the 1960’s the largest fruit production and packing region in the world. The only thing blossoming from these ends were pretty purple fruit plants.

Santa Clara Valley

The transition from orchards to worldwide organisations began

The mid-1800’s is when things started to really heat up in the valley, all thanks to the San Francisco Bay Area port which facilitated the entry of military and commercial ships. The area soon homed the US’s first ever radio station (1909), quickly becoming a hub of innovation for the telegraph and radio industries. And so it all began…

The Aerospace Industry Emerged

Moffett Field Airfield, the civil-military airport located in the south end of San Francisco Bay became a major hub for the progression of the aerospace industry in the early 1900’s. Scientists and researchers flocked in their masses to the area, leading the way for aerospace innovation.

Hangar One Moffett Field

The Ames Research Center

Founded in 1939, the Ames Research Center continued the revolutionary movements which were being made in San Fran. The Ames Research Center soon became the home of ground-breaking events including the world’s largest wind tunnel, a pivotal moment for the future of aerospace. The centre has since become a major NASA research centre, now responsible for much of NASA’s computer science work.

William Hewlett and Dave Packard

These 2 Stanford grads really made their mark on the San Fran tech scene. William Hewlett and Dave Packard started a company in their garage making oscilloscopes, radar and artillery technology during WW2. The entrepreneur’s went on to co-found Hewlett-Packard, a global tech company more commonly known today as HP.

William Hewlett and Dave Packard

William Shockley

Another man who marked a major moment for San Fran is William Shockley. This is the guy who co-invented the transistor, one of the most basic components of what we now know as the computer processor, at Bell Labs. Mr Shockley went on to spread his scientific love by founding Shockley Semiconductor Labs, the first-ever company to make transistors out of silicon rather than germanium.

The birth of the web

By 1970 the tech scene in Silicon Valley had reached new levels. Stanford Research Institute became home to one of the first four nodes of ARPANET, a network that became the basis for the internet, birthing the first version of today’s World Wide Web.


Steve Jobs Turns up on the Scene

The Homebrew Computer Club, just your average Silicon Valley local fan group infact, played a pivotal role in the future of tech when two young enthusiasts named Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs showed up to their first Homebrew Computer Club meeting in 1975.

Steve Jobs Homebrew Computer Club

And then Apple was created

Sure it may not look that impressive, but this wooden typewriter looking object was infact the first ever real personal computer, marking the beginning of Apple becoming the global tech giant it is today.

the first apple computer

Silicon Valley becomes the center of the computer industry

Amongst flared jeans and outrageous hairstyles, the 1980’s marked Silicon Valley as becoming the centre of the computer industry.

The 1990’s saw the big players hit the Silicon scene

The rise of the internet and PC’s becoming a widely used house hold item prompted companies such as Google, eBay and Yahoo to form in the garages and backstreets of the ever growing Silicon Valley scene.

And today?

Silicon Valley is home to the world’s largest high-tech corporations, as well as thousands of startup companies. Around 99 large tech companies call this valley their home, worth some $2.8 trillion between them. Add this to the 51 start-up companies emerging in the area each month and it’s a sure thing that San Fran’s Silicon Valley is only on the up.

Silicon Valley from above