Chapter Ten

(p. 184) “One of the foundations of Austin’s success was the digital economy of information technology companies: Texas Instruments and IBM came first, locating facilities in Austin in the 1960s. Westinghouse, McNeil Labs, Cypress Semiconductor, and many other companies came to nearby Round Rock, transforming it from a farm town of 3,000 to a high-end suburb of 78,000 in 2004. Austin in the mid-1980s won a fierce competition for Sematech, a federally sponsored consortium of high-tech corporations that aimed to develop commercial applications for technical innovations. Dell Computer, soon to be a rousing business success story and major employer, opened for business at the same time (later moving from Austin to Round Rock). The 1990s brought Samsung, Advanced Micro Devices, Motorola, and other semiconductor manufacturers among nearly 2,000 IT-related companies. IT employment shrank with the dot-com crash of 2001 but still accounted for roughly a quarter of area jobs.”

(p. 182) Suburban tech plants and research “extended the historic American taste for the isolated and self-contained university campus. The bucolic campus, often in a small-town setting, was designed to insulate students and faculty from the distractions of the heterogeneous city.”

(p. 183) “Direct federal funding and federal markets for science-intensive production, as well as regional amenities, helped to make western metro areas some of the best educated in the country. Sixteen of the metro areas that had 500,000 or more residents in 1980 reported that 20 percent or more of their adult population (over twenty-five years old) had completed at least four years of college. Ten of these cities were western: Austin at 28 percent; Denver at 26 percent; San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose at 25 percent; and Seattle/Tacoma, Honolulu, Houston, San Diego, Tucson, Salt Lake City, and Dallas/Fort Worth all at between 20 and 24 percent. The West claimed twenty-eight of the fifty metro areas of all sizes with the same high education level – including not only such likely candidates as Colorado Springs and Santa Barbara but also less obvious cities such as Grand Forks, North Dakota; Boise, Idaho; and Midlands, Texas.”

(p. 183) “These trends came together in the early twenty-first century in a handful of ‘new economy’ cities oriented to the processing and distribution of information. San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Denver, Dallas, and Albuquerque were high on the list.”

(p. 181) “The farmlands of Santa Clara County, California, became a”silicon landscape" of neat one-story factories and research campuses. In 1950, the county had 800 factory workers. In 1980, it had 264,000 manufacturing workers and 3,000 electronics firms."

(p. 183) In building American scientific capacity federal initiatives transformed western universities. “Research grants and graduate student aid, especially after the passage of the National Defense Education Act (1958), provided vital funding at a time when regional campuses were struggling to cope with the first arrivals from the postwar baby boom. The University of Washington grew from 13,000 to 30,000 students in little more than a decade, in part because of vigorous pursuit of federal grants whose income equaled direct support from the state general fund. The University of California-San Diego was explicitly created to support high-technology research with strong lobbying from the giant defense contractor General Dynamics. When federal research and development funding for universities is compared on a per-capita basis, Alaska, Utah, Hawaii, New Mexico, Washington, California, and Colorado all exceeded the national average – with obvious consequences for Salt Lake City, Seattle, Denver/Boulder, and other cities.”

(p. 181) “Stanford Industrial Park in 1951 was the first planned effort to link the science and engineering faculties of major universities to the ensign and production of cutting-edge engineering applications. Along with the development of companies like Hewlett-Packard, it was the first step in the evolution of Silicon Valley – the nickname for San Jose and nearby South Bay communities – as a center of the electronics industry. Federal contracts, especially for complex challenges like missile guidance systems, have been the Silicon Valley mainstay, driving the innovation cycle from experiment to defense application to civilian spin-off.”

(p. 183) “By 1980, western cities were the centers of atomic research and production (still a rising industry after a decade of energy crises and reviving Cold War), aerospace companies, and companies that specialized in instrumentation and military control systems. One industrial cluster in the San Francisco Bay area centered around electronic data processing, another in southern California, around aerospace. Both places had thick networks of suppliers, mobility of workers among competing firms, and relatively open marketplaces of ideas. There were certainly rivalries and trade secrets, but the West Coast style was more open and flexible than rival East Coast centers such as Boston. It was a remarkable manifestation of some of the common, self-satisfied assumptions about the superiority of the ‘western’ style over the eastern.”

(p. 182-183) “In the 1980s and 1990s, branch hardware and microchip factories, spinoff companies, and software firms spread the information-processing industry throughout the West. Having seen what the computer industry did for San Jose, every place wanted to be the next Silicon Valley. The information business built on earlier foundations in Dallas (Texas Instruments), Portland (Tektronix), and Phoenix (Motorola). It changed big cities such as Denver and Salt Lake City and radically transformed smaller cities like Boise. Local boosters in the 1980s talked up ‘silicon prairies,’ ‘silicon forests,’ ‘silicon deserts,’ and ‘silicon mountains.’ If they were lucky they developed homegrown firms or acquired research arms of large companies, but local leaders were often satisfied with a chip plant or fabricating plant controlled from Mountain View, Cupertino, Seoul, or Tokyo.”