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Electronic Design

San Francisco: Golden Gate To Electronic Research

Engineers attending the forthcoming Western Electronics Show and Convention will find the San Francisco area a thriving center of electronic research. Intensive studies are under way today in solid state, microwaves, information handling, and other branches of the industry. Wescon is scheduling field trips to representative laboratories for those engineers who are interested.

Shockley Laboratories, Palo Alto, Calif., is growing ultra-pure silicon crystals to study imperfections in silicon p-n junctions. R&D manager Rudolf Biensele points out that, "The whole area of semiconductor technology is a peculiar blend of science and art. We keep finding areas of art that have heretofore been labeled 'science.' These areas that are not really under control are the ones that have been plaguing industry. It is these areas of sorcery that we are attacking."

Lockheed Missiles and Space Div. maintains a major research center in the Stanford Industrial Park, Palo Alto. There, a group is studying magnetic effects, thermoelectric effects, spin waves in thin ferromagnetic films, and the magnetic properties of rare earth materials.

With a view toward thermionic energy conversion, researchers at Varian Associates, Palo Alto, are studying plasma synthesis. If a plasma can be generated with low expenditure of electrical power, then low-temperature (1000° to 1500°C) emitters can be fabricated instead of the 2500°C presently needed for tungsten or tantalum. (Electronic Design, August 16, 1961, p. 28)

The original article carried more details than we could fit in this space. But perhaps the major point here is that in the early 60s, although a hotbed of electronics technology, the Palo Alto area wasn't dominated by semiconductors. As Fairchild grew and National Semiconductor moved from Connecticut, though, the area soon became known as Silicon Valley.

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