PBS documentary traces Silicon Valley origins
The birth of the modern technological era took place decades before Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook or Steve Jobs dreamed up Apple. In 1957, Robert Noyce and a group of brililiant young scientists working in a company headquartered in rural farmland in California were about to change the world. Silicon Valley, a fascinating look at those early rough-and-tumble days, premieres on American Experience on Tuesday, February 5 at 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS.
In 1957, decades before Steve Jobs dreamed up Apple and Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, a group of eight brilliant young scientists defected from the Shockley Semiconductor Company -- the first company to work in the field of silicon semiconductors -- in order to start their own transistor company. The "Traitorous Eight," as they were dubbed, created Fairchild Semiconductor, a company whose radical innovations helped make the United States a leader in both space exploration and the personal computer revolution, transforming the way the world works, plays and communicates.
Their leader was 29-year-old Robert Noyce, a physicist with a brilliant mind and the affability of a born salesman. Over the next decade, Noyce ran the new company and co-invented the integrated circuit, which would become an essential component of modern electronics including computers, motor vehicles, cell phones, and household appliances. Told through the story of Noyce, who went on to found Intel, Silicon Valley is a vibrant examination of the rough-and-tumble early days of the high tech industry and the thrilling interplay of cutting-edge science and high-stakes business that defines the unique culture of Silicon Valley. Directed by Randall MacLowry, Silicon Valley premieres on American Experience on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).
> On October 4, 1957, the young founders of the newly minted start-up heard some startling news: the Soviet Union had just launched the first artificial satellite into orbit around the earth. With the United States scrambling to catch up, the timing couldn't have been better for the upstarts at Fairchild. Eisenhower quickly launched NASA and the nation's new obsession with technology provided the opportunity of a lifetime. In less than two years, Noyce would co-create a groundbreaking invention that would help put men on the moon. But Noyce's innovation - the integrated circuit - would have an impact far beyond the Apollo program. The integrated circuit, also known as the microchip, would re-shape the future, making possible the invention of smart phones and digital video recorders, pacemakers and microwaves possible, and launching the world into the Information Age.