Silicon Valley did not just pop out of nowhere, and it has nothing to do with the innovative geniuses and the VCs of today!
There is a hype about a recent book that explains the roots of Silicon Valley’s military roots. It’s funny people don’t like to read historical facts and are amazed when someone points out old facts in a new book.
It is a fact that all of modern technologies (high tech or otherwise) have the US Department of Defense to thank for. The US Government, via various departments (some that does not even exists anymore such as the War Department), is the exclusive source where the money came from to be able to develop a lot of what is driving the technologies that we are all using today. So in a nutshell, we need to thank the tax dollars of our Nation’s citizens for everything that has been developed in the near past! Period.
World War II and later the Korean War, and finally the Cold War were the key to creating a support mechanism to jump start innovation, using the universities, government labs and corporations talent bases. Universities such as Cal Tech, Stanford, and companies such as Douglas, Lockheed, Karman, Northrop, Fairchild, Vought, Curtiss, Grumman, HP, Varian, Litton, GE, Rand, and so on where all involved with US government grants and funds to develop leading edge new ideas in weaponry (Air and Naval), missiles, radar, communication devices, material science, jet propulsion, aircraft and space craft design and many other market segments too much to list here. There were very close working relationships between the Federal Government and local private businesses, small and large.
Some of the most impactful ideas that created a new platform which we all use today (including me right now) such as the networking backbone that supports the modern global internet was first built by researchers funded by an early iteration DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). People don’t realize, many of the technologies used widely today are rooted in DARPA-backed research, from the user interface that powers a Windows laptop to voice recognition interfaces and even the stuff that makes your Apple iPhone work(and for that matter many if not all of the mobile phones). How do you think Qualcom came up with the processor that provides life to half of the global mobile phones? And, how can one forget the famous “Manhattan Project” which is by some the beginning of “big science” from which so many off-shoot innovations have been obtained?
There is much more to discuss here but I read a very well researched article written by Gavin Wright, who is an economic historian and Professor of American economic history at Stanford University. It is worth reading it!
Here is the link to the article: “World War II, the Cold War, and the Knowledge Economies of the Pacific Coast”