My first job in the valley was located on University Avenue, in Palo Alto, home of several noted Silicon Valley technology start-ups. The work environment on this Stanford University campus site was casual. Guys would come to work in t-shirts, jeans, shorts and sandals. Like their attire, they were laid back. For me, this was a cultural shock. In fact, many valley geeks were hippie remnants from the counterculture era. Companies like Apple and Google were started by entrepreneurs of this generation. Hippies of the ‘60s became yuppies of the ’80s.
|A year later, IBM transferred the entire operation to a new facility in South San Jose, called the Santa Teresa Lab—labeled by other geeks in the valley as an IBM “think tank.” There, the work environment was more upscale—dress shirts and ties were standard. The video inset shows my arrival at work.||
Since from the outside all the buildings looked identical, the internal hallway walls were color coded, lest one become disoriented and flounder around in circles. This still presented a problem for the color blinded.
Located in the valley and surrounding areas are companies involved in diverse technical adventures, such as: missile testing in Morgan Hill, atom smashing in Menlo Park, software development in Cupertino, aerospace development in Sunnyvale, silicon chip production in San Jose, and digital media development in Fremont and ad infinitum.
Following is a brief overview of the valley taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Silicon Valley: is the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California. . . . The term originally referred to the region’s large number of silicon chip innovators and manufacturers, but eventually came to refer to all the high-tech businesses in the area; it is now generally used as a metonym for the American high-tech sector. Despite the development of other high-tech economic centers throughout the United States, and the world, Silicon Valley continues to be the leading high-tech hub because of its large number of cutting-edge entrepreneurs, engineers, programmers and venture capitalists. Geographically, the Silicon Valley encompasses all of the Santa Clara Valley including the city of San Jose (and adjacent communities), the southern Peninsula, and the southern East Bay.
During those days Pong was the leading edge computer game, produced by some geeks up in the Sierra Nevada mountains for a company named Atari. For not being down in the valley with the rest of the nerds, these hicks were pretty good. Years later, some geeks on the other side of the Pacific Rim—NAMCO Ltd, of Japan—got into the mix with the Pac-Man video game. Atari later bought the rights from them. Needless to say, the old saying “Made in Japan,” was beginning to have some weight. I had bought these games for my sons, in order to stimulate computer literacy. When compared to video games of today, my oldest grandson would consider these as nothing more than antique relics from the past.
Most of the folks in my neighborhood were nerds; that is, engineers and programmers. During their off time, all they wanted to do is talk shop—at a meal in a restaurant, across the backyard fence, while working on the front lawn, etc. We had to be careful not to divulge classified information from each other’s company.
Once, while attempting to change to a non-technical conversation with a skinny four eyed egg head Wally Cox type character, I caused his personality to flip. He got pissed and said, “What’s your problem? You ain’t no computer hacker,” then he walked off in a huff. Even though I grooved on technology, I’d get grossed out. For me it was getting to be overkill, because I wasn’t as addicted as many of the others.