Birthplace of the Silicon Valley

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Birthplace of the Silicon Valley (click the link to view a PDF on the project)

Collaboration: Mary White and Vickie Jo Sowell

Public Art Project, Mountain View, CA

Completed 2018

The three tall sculptures that stride above this sidewalk location commemorate and honor the pioneering work performed by engineers of the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory at 391 San Antonio Road in the 1960s. The sculptures are artistic interpretations of two of the earliest semi-conductor devices ever produced in Silicon Valley, the 2N696 transistor (with three prongs) and a four layer silicon diode (with two prongs).

In our depiction, the three components are plugged into an etched circuit board layout on the sidewalk, producing a classic oscillating “saw-tooth” waveform. The second diode outside the circuit board has the enclosing “can” cut away, so that viewers can see a typical representation of the inside of the diode and the silicon chip location.

These early devices were manufactured with straight legs, but are depicted here slightly battered and bent, symbolic of old devices found in historic collections.

From this location and using the concepts embodied in these solid-state components, the companies and technologies that make up the modern Silicon Valley were born.