The Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory of Beckman Instruments

William Shockley - "The Moses of Silicon Valley"


Courtesy Intel  Corporation

From: Bo Lojek: History of Semiconductor Engineering
(click to enlarge)

Two versions of the Intel-made-famous photo of the staff of the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory (SSL) toasting their leader at a luncheon on the day after the announcement of the Nobel Prize honoring the inventors of the transistor (John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley).  At table L-R: Gordon Moore, Sheldon Roberts, Victor Jones, and Shockley.  Smoot Horsley stands at far left;  That may be the back of Eugene Kleiner in the immediate foreground, Robert Noyce is fourth from left, immediately behind Jones, Jay Last is at the far right.

What is the point of this web page?  As the fourth or fifth scientist/engineer to be hired by SSL and the first to voluntarily quit,
I have over the years often been asked questions about the early days of SSL  So, as one of the few survivers of those early days, I have tried to gather up a few tidbits to add to the historical picture. 

If you want to know the story of the infamous puddle crystal grower see the note I have entitled Arguably the First Silicon Crystal Grown in "Silicon Valley".

Again to highlight my particular knowledge I note a few of my first impressions of Shockley.

An excellent history of the ill-fated Shockley enterprise and an account of its seminal role in the develop of semiconductor electronics may be found in the book   Crystal Fire: The Birth of the Information Age by Lillian Hoddeson and Michael Riordan (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1997). See also the article entitled "The Moses of Silicon Valley" in the December 1997 issue of Physics Today (Vol. 50, No. 12) and Chapter One from Crystal Fire.  See also A Brief History of Silicon Valley by Jim McCormick.

The oral history Gordon Moore gave to the Silicon Genesis project  (Stanford University Libraries) is quite insightful on the the "Shockley experience."

Leslie Berlin's marvelous biography on Bob Noyce, The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley, includes a insightful appraisal of the pivotal role of the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in the history of Silicon Valley.

Randall MacLowry's recent The American Experience: Silicon Valley does a good job telling much of the story from another perspective.

Other interesting/relevant links:

This page was prepared and is maintained by R. Victor Jones
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Last updated August 03, 2016