Untold Silicon Valley

Untold Silicon Valley

This is Untold Silicon Valley, the podcast dedicated to exploring the forgotten and almost-forgotten histories from Silicon Valley’s first decades with one part history, one part storytelling, and a pinch of snark. In this podcast, we will be sitting ringside and examining the times, the events, and most importantly, the people who shaped the industry now known as “Silicon Valley.” We’ll meet the founders, funders, scientists and innovators who played pivotal roles in the transformation of a little known agricultural valley in Northern California known mainly for its oranges and plums to the home of the global technology industry.


June 15, 2022 16 min

Having left Bell Labs to strike out on his own, William Shockley had some important decisions to make:  Who would be the backer for his fledgling company?  Who would be on his staff?  And where would it launch?

In this episode, William Shockley begins to assemble the key pieces of the company that would become Shockley Semiconductor, including its investor, Arnold Beckman, and the its soon-to-be-famous research staff.

We are also l...

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With a backer, a location, and the support of the ambitious Stanford Engineering Department, William Shockley recruiting efforts started in earnest.  But having burned his bridges at Bell Labs (and them some!), Shockley resorts to some unorthodox methods to find the scientists and engineers who will make up his research staff.

In this episode, William Shockley lures 20 of the country’s best and brightest young scientific minds to C...

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June 22, 2022 33 min

After the meeting with Arnold Beckman, the state of Shockley Semiconductor just continues to deteriorate, and the Shockley research staff finally makes their own appeal to Arnold Beckman that something has to change.

In this episode, the Shockley research staff takes a shot in the dark and writes a fateful letter to a New York investment banking firm.  The letter asks if the firm knows of any companies who might be interested in hi...

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June 28, 2022 28 min

Despite the boom in the semiconductor industry, the renegade Shockley research scientists and the bankers of Hayden Stone get nothing but the cold shoulder in their search for a backer… until they catch the ear of an eccentric millionaire inventor.

In this episode, the renegade Shockley research scientists and the bankers from Hayden Stone discover how difficult it really is to fund a tech startup in the conformity-conscious 1950s....

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July 6, 2022 29 min

Sputnik sparks the Space Race, and hysteria ensues in the United States.  In the meantime, the Fairchild Semiconductor founders get to work.

In this episode, the Traitorous Eight have barely moved into their new space, when the Space Race presents an opportunity that has the potential to catapult the fledgling startup to the forefront of the semiconductor industry..

Pouncing on the opportunity, they make an audacious promise to del...

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July 12, 2022 31 min

Fairchild becomes the David to Texas Instruments’ Goliath, as integrated circuits take the semiconductor stage.

In this episode, a young engineer named Jack Kilby causes a stir when he invents the first integrated circuit, and the team at Fairchild springs into action to keep pace with industry leader Texas Instruments.

Also, in this episode, Fairchild Camera & Instrument exercises its option to buy out the eight Fairchild Semi...

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July 19, 2022 29 min

By the early 1960s, Fairchild Camera & Instrument may have been the hottest stock on Wall Street, but internally, trouble was brewing.

In this episode, refusing to become “just another employee working in a research lab for somebody else,” Semiconductor co-founder Jay Last takes a stand, and inadvertently launches an entirely new Silicon Valley phenomenon, the “Fairchildren.”

Also, in this episode, Arthur Rock launches the firs...

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July 27, 2022 47 min

By breaking open the commercial integrated circuits market, Fairchild’s stock skyrockets… but the breakthrough also seals its fate.

In our final episode of Season 1, Fairchild Semiconductor’s success is short-lived, as its meteoric rise is only matched by its crashing downfall.  One-by-one, more key figures jump from the sinking ship.

Things are no better at parent Fairchild Camera & Instrument, where plenty of blame is going a...

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