Survey Monkey

Survey Monkey started as an atypical technology company, founded in 1999 by brothers Ryan and Chris Finley, without raising any outside funding, not common at a time when money was so easy to get. They operated the company and grew slowly but profitably to an estimated $30m in sales with just 12 employees after 10 […]


Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while graduate students at Stanford University. They originally named their new search engine “BackRub” because the system checked backlinks to estimate the importance of a site. The service, renamed to Google, originally ran under Stanford University’s website at and […]


In December 1998, PayPal was started as Confinity founded by Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek and Ken Howery, building security software for handheld devices. They developed the money transfer service PayPal. In March 2000, Confinity merged with, an online banking company founded by Elon Musk and renamed itself to the PayPal service they […]

Juniper Networks

Juniper Networks was founded in 1996 by Pradeep Sindhu a scientist from PARC, who came up with an idea on building a better router specifically for Internet traffic, existing routers were optimized for phone calls each with its own dedicated circuit, Juniper routers were based around packets. By 2001, Juniper controlled one-third of the market […]

Excite @Home

If you were in the Bay Area during the dotcom era, you likely remember the Excite building right on 101 in Redwood City, often with the Mystery Machine van parked out front. Excite was launched in 1995, one of the early dotcom companies invested in by Vinod Khosla during his time at Kleiner Perkins. In […]


Netscape started as Mosaic Communications Corporation in 1994, when Jim Clark recruited Marc Andreessen to co-found the company. The original idea was for an online gaming network for Nintendo, but didn’t gain traction. They ended up developing a new web browser, Netscape Navigator. Andreesen worked on the original Mosaic browser at the National Center for […]


Yahoo was founded in January 1994 by graduate students Jerry Yang and David Filo as a simple directory to find sites on the web, original named “Jerry and David’s guide to the World Wide Web”. It was renamed to Yahoo! in March 1995 and became one of the early pioneers of the Internet starting in […]

Adobe Systems

Adobe Systems was founded in 1982 by John Warnock and Charles Geschke who left Xerox PARC to develop and sell PostScript. Apple would include PostScript in its LaserWriter printers which helped kick off desktop publishing in the mid-80’s. Adobe entered the consumer software market with Adobe Illustrator in 1987, a vector-based drawing program for the […]

Fry’s Electronics

Brothers John, Randy, and David Fry inherited money from their father who ran Fry’s Supermarket, a small chain of grocery stores in California. The brothers were not interested in grocery stores but opened a Fry’s Electronics store in Sunnyvale in 1985. Fry’s Electronics sold high-tech supplies including integrated circuits, computer components, test and measurement equipment, […]

Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems was founded in 1982 by Vinod Khosla, Andy Bechtolsheim, and Scott McNealy, all Stanford graduate students. They were joined shortly by Bill Joy of Berkeley, a primary developer of the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). Sun was a critical technology company early on, with their first product being the Stanford University Network (SUN) workstation, […]


Oracle Corporation was founded in 1977 by Larry Ellison, Bob Miner and Ed Oates initially named Software Development Laboratories. They started developing services but moved to selling packaged software which proved to be more lucrative. Similar to Xerox PARC not capitalizing on their research, IBM had the same problem. The System R Research Team at […]

IBM Great Oaks

The IBM Great Oaks facility was a research facility in south San Jose where they developed the RAMAC computer and the magnetic disc drive. You can view a short movie on its development, it includes a shot of the semi-famous mosaic buildings in the short. At its peak, IBM employed 11,000 workers here, including yours […]

Apple Computer

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne started Apple Computer in 1976; selling their machines out of this Los Altos garage; home of Steve’s parents, Paul and Clara Jobs. In 1993, Apple moved into their current headquarters at One Infinite Loop in Cupertino. Construction of their next headquarters is underway and expected to finish shortly.


The MITS Altair 8800 is widely recognized as the first spark that led to the microcomputer revolution. MITS was founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1969 by Ed Roberts, Forrest M. Mims, Stan Cagle and Robert Zaller who sold radio transmitters and instruments for model rockets out of Roberts garage. Intel introduced the 8080 CPU […]

Xerox PARC

Xerox established their Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1970. They were hired many employees of the nearby SRI Augmentation Research Center; as funding from DARPA, NASA, and the U.S. Air Force began to diminish to SRI. These employees continued their research — some of the most important developments in computer history. Xerox PARC is […]

SRI International

SRI is a quiet but very important non-profit research institute. It was established by the trustees of Stanford University in 1946 as a center of innovation to support economic development in the region. SRI describes its mission as creating world-changing solutions to make people safer, healthier, and more productive. SRI innovations and developments are numerous […]

Advanced Micro Devices

Jerry Sanders, along with seven of his colleagues from Fairchild Semiconductor, started Advanced Micro Devices in 1969. Sanders, an electrical engineer and the director of marketing at Fairchild, had grown frustrated with the increasing lack of support, opportunity, and flexibility and like those before him, decided to leave to start his own semiconductor company.

National Semiconductor

National Semiconductor was founded in Connecticut in 1959. The founding engineers left Sperry Rand to start National, which resulted in patent disputes taking years to resolve causing a drop in stock value of National. The depressed values allowed Peter Sprague to invest heavily in the company with his family funds. Sprague also relied on further […]


Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce founded Intel in 1968 in Mountain View, CA. The two were original members of the Traitorous Eight that left Shockley Labs for Fairchild. Andy Grove joined Intel as its third employee shortly after it started and the three grew Intel into arguably the most important company in Silicon Valley. Starting […]

Applied Materials

Applied Materials was founded in 1967 to support the exploding semiconductor manufacturing boom. Applied supplies the equipment, services and tools to enable the manufacturing of semiconductors. The actual manufacturing of semiconductors were all initially done in Silicon Valley. Applied was the tools vendor to support the manufacturing base. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the […]

Fairchild Semiconductor

Fairchild Semiconductor was founded by eight employees that left Shockley Labs together, they became known as the Traitorous Eight. They were Julius Blank, Victor Grinich, Jean Hoerni, Eugene Kleiner, Jay Last, Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce, and Sheldon Roberts. The group used $3,500 of their own money to develop a method of mass-producing silicon transistors at […]

Shockley Labs

In 1956 William Shockley moved to Mountain View, CA to start Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. Shockley was a physicist and researcher at Bell Labs in New York where he co-developed the first transistor. His labs in Mountain View was the start of the semiconductor industry in Santa Clara Valley. Shockley’s paranoia and poor management style led […]

Does the camera make a difference?

I love gear, old cameras are great. They are beautiful objects by themselves, there is something about the high precision and craftsmanship. Its like old watches or cars, both I can really appreciate the design and craftsmanship. However, I have no desire to collect either, and not just because they are more expensive, or in […]

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin, a major defense contractor, whose missiles division was relocated to the Bay Area from its previous location in Southern California. The reason for the move was to spread out the defense industry which was heavily concentrated in Los Angeles at the time, so it could not theoretically be destroyed with a single nuclear […]


Varian is one of the quiet unsung heroes of Silicon Valley, the company has played an important role in history and is lesser known than Hewlett Packard, Fairchild and others. Varian was the first tenant at Stanford Industrial Park in 1953. The industrial park, owned by Stanford, was established by Dean of Engineering Frederick Terman […]