Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory is known, though not very well, as the first place where scientists worked with silicon in Silicon Valley. The lab, on San Antonio Road in Mountain View, is the historic birthplace of Silicon Valley. Not only was it the first to use silicon, but the lab's leader, Nobel laureate William Shockley, is credited with driving away eight brilliant engineers who left him to start Fairchild and the semiconductor industry.

Who knows how different the world would be had Shockley been a warm and fuzzy boss.

A brief history:

1947: Working at Bell Labs with fellow physicists John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, William Shockley was among those who invented the transistor, a device destined to change the world.

1956: William Shockley and Arnold Beckman open Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in a rented building at 391 San Antonio Road in Mountain View. Shockley hires top engineers including Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, who eventually would go on to found Intel (INTC).

1956: Shockley, Bardeen and Brattain are awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for the invention of the transistor.

1957: Noyce, Moore and six others dubbed "The Traitorous Eight" quit Shockley en masse, frustrated with the boss' poor management style and his reluctance to explore different ways to put his semiconductor breakthroughs to work. The eight start Fairchild Semiconductor, which ultimately pioneered the mass production of the integrated circuit and launched the chip industry in Silicon Valley.


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1960: Beckman sells Shockley Semiconductor to Clevite. Shockley stays on for a time, before taking a faculty position at Stanford University.

1968: Noyce, Moore and Andy Grove start Intel, now the largest chipmaker in the world.

1989: Shockley dies at age 79.

Sources: Computer History Museum, Intel, Mercury News reporting