New England’s economic decline is linked to Silicon Valley’s rise,all because of the outcome of an argument 50 years ago. More:

The present-day fate of New England goes back to an argument at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the ’50s about that material from which semiconductors, well understood locally from wartime work on radar, were to be manufactured in the years ahead. Dogma held that it would be germanium; silicon crystals would be too difficult to purify to the required degree.  Robert Noyce, an MIT-trained physicist, thought otherwise.

When MIT declined to tenure him, Noyce decamped, first to Philadelphia, then to the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, in Mountain View, California.  Silicon leadership went with him – to Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, each of which he co-founded, And eventually to Silicon Valley, centered around San Jose, which the two firms spawned. New England never developed a vigorous industry in silicon chips. By the end of the ’70s, savvy venture capitalists had begun migrating to Palo Alto’s Sand Hill Road.

(H/T: The Browser)

Advertisement