William Shockley and his team at Bell Laboratories complete the first successful amplifying semiconductor, the transistor. The transistor was a major advance and paved the way for the invention of smaller and cheaper electronic devices.
Young physics student Robert Noyce is introduced to the transistor while studying at Grinnell College under professor Grant Gale.
The population of Santa Clara Valley is roughly 290,500.
Stanford signs its first lease for space in its industrial park to Varian Corporation. These long-term, inexpensive leases encouraged entrepreneurship. Stanford soon leases space to more companies, including Hewlett-Packard, General Electric, and Lockheed.
The transistor radio is invented, quickly becoming the most popular communication device the world has ever seen.
William Shockley founds Shockley Semiconductor Laboratories as a division of Beckman Instruments.
William Shockley and two Bell Labs colleagues are awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for their researches on semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect."
Eight Shockley Semiconductor scientists and engineers hold a secret meeting at San Francisco's Clift Hotel to discuss forming their own firm, under the leadership of Robert Noyce. The men would come to be known as the "Traitorous Eight."
Sherman Fairchild, owner of Fairchild Camera and Instrument, puts up $1.3 million to start Fairchild Semiconductor and retains the option to buy out the new subsidiary.
After defecting from Shockley Laboratories, the Traitorous Eight -- Julius Blank, Victor Grinich, Jean Hoerni, Eugene Kleiner, Jay Last, Gordon Moore, Sheldon Roberts, and Robert Noyce -- start Fairchild Semiconductor.
The Soviet Union launches Sputnik, the first artificial satellite. This event triggers the beginning of the Space Race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
Fairchild Semiconductor fulfills its IBM contract order for 100 silicon transistors, priced at $150 each, 30 times the going rate for the less-sturdy standard germanium transistor. Unlike Fairchild Semiconductor's silicon transistors, germanium transistors functioned poorly at high temperatures, which made them ill-suited for use in missiles and aircrafts.
President Eisenhower establishes NASA when he signs the National Aeronautics and Space Act.
NASA begins operations. By 1960, NASA's budget tops $400 million a year.
Fairchild Semiconductor outbids Texas Instruments to provide transistors for the Minuteman nuclear ballistic missile guidance system.
Jean Hoerni, a Fairchild Semiconductor scientist, patents the planar process, a radically new transistor design with a protective layer of silicon oxide mounted on top of the transistor. The planar process increases production, reduces costs, and makes a much more reliable product.
Fairchild Camera and Instrument exercises its option to buy out its subsidiary. Each founding member of the company receives $300,000 ($2 million today) in stock options.
Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments patents the "solid circuit," an entire circuit on a singular semiconductor chip. The solid circuit surpasses all competition.
Robert Noyce, co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor, files a patent for the integrated circuit. Unlike Kilby's design, this uses no wires, making it much more practical for mass production.
Fairchild Semiconductor develops its first working integrated circuit, or microchip.
President John F. Kennedy announces the space program, with the ultimate goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him to Earth.
Texas Instruments files suit against Fairchild Semiconductor for patent interference, claiming ownership of the integrated circuit concept.
By 1964, Fairchild Semiconductor produces more than 100,000 integrated circuits for the Apollo space program.
Fairchild Semiconductor slashes prices. Microchips now sell for $1, which is less than they cost to produce. The lowered price leads to an increase in demand, eventually boosting profits significantly
Fairchild Semiconductor stock becomes the fastest growing on the New York Stock Exchange.
The suit between Texas Instruments and Fairchild Semiconductor is settled with an agreement to share licensing of the integrated circuit.
Noyce's right-hand man and Operations Manager Charlie Sporck leaves Fairchild Semiconductor and is appointed President and CEO of competitor National Semiconductor.
Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore resign from Fairchild Semiconductor and start Intel.
Intel wins a contract from Busicom to create specialized microchips for a new calculator.
American astronauts land on the moon, an achievement made possible by Fairchild Semiconductor technology. The integrated circuit-based Apollo Guidance Computer (ACG), which was mounted on board both the Command Module and Lunar Module, helped navigate and control the spacecraft to the moon.
The population of Santa Clara Valley grows to just over one million.
Journalist Don Hoefler first uses the name "Silicon Valley" in a series of articles in the Electronic News.
Invented by engineer Ted Hoff, Intel introduces the 4004, the first microprocessor, which contains more than 2,000 transistors. Before the microprocessor, machines that performed the same functions were the size of refrigerators. Described as "a computer on a chip," the microprocessor is the fundamental component of all digital equipment we use today.
The evolution of rhythm and blues through the careers of singers Ruth Brown and Charles Brown, with contemporary performances by both.
A new religion called spiritualism affected the nation in the era of Abraham Lincoln, P. T. Barnum and Frederick Douglass.
The legendary tale of Emeline Gurney, who - as the story goes - sold an illegitimate child at the age of 14 only to marry him at a later age.
A biography of the last outlaws of the American Wild West
This funny, probing program re-examines assumptions about American culture in the 1950s.
Equipment failure, human error and bad luck led to the country's worst nuclear accident in 1979.
Roman Catholic priest Father Charles Coughlin used the power of radio to rail against the nation's economic system in the Depression.
Between 1890 and 1920, 12 million people emigrated from Europe arriving in New York Harbor and Ellis Island.