History of Silicon Valley: 1891-1956
In 1891, Stanford University was founded.
the need for another university in California is about as great as that of an asylum for decayed sea captains in Switzerland. – The New York Mail
In 1909, Cy Elwell, a recent electrical engineering graduate from Stanford, went to work for a company that developed a wireless telephone – one that transmitted voice over the radio. Elwell would convince Stanford president David Starr Jordan to put up $500 in venture capital. Other professors soon joined in. The company would become the Federal Telegraph Company (FTC), based in Palo Alto.
This partnership would mark the start of a fruitful relationship between the technology industry and Stanford.
By 1920, Stanford had become a hotbed for radio research. It was one of the only universities offering courses in the subject, and Stanford had established itself as a top school in the new discipline of electrical engineering. One student would stand out and ultimately be donned "the Father of Silicon Valley."
Fred Terman was the son of a Stanford professor (notably, the one that invented the IQ test) and an amateur radio enthusiast. After graduating, he would work for Federal Telegraph, only to go back to school and get a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from MIT before leading the newly created radio lab at Stanford.
Terman's lab would produce thousands of great engineers. However, these engineers would have to go back East to find jobs once they graduated. What the area needed were companies to support these graduates. Two of Terman's students would create a company that did just that: David Packard and William Hewlett.