William Shockley (1910-1989)

Shockley has been DELIVERED to the former site of Shockley Labs! The Shockley icon is the last known location of the hitchhiker. White balloons are cell tower locations, red balloons are actual GPS locations. If you would like to own William Shockley, or make a donation to our organization to support this and future projects, contact:
exhibits _at_ ylem.org

Sculpture by Jim Pallas


Born in England, trained at CalTech and MIT, WIlliam Shockley (along with John Bardeen and Walter Brattain) invented the solid-state transistor. The team was looking for an alternative to fragile glass vacuum tubes, so researched the flow of electrons in solid state crystals. Silicon proved fertile. Bell Labs originally left Shockley's name off of the first transistor patent out of fear of conflicting with a 1930 one issued to a scientist named Lilenfield.

Shockley didn't like this one bit. Shockley was considered secretive and conniving, but loved publicity and craved executive management. Leaving Bell Labs, he returned to CalTech to teach for a while. Then, with his friend Beckman, he started Shockley Semiconductor Labs in Mountain View. It has been said that Shockley first brought the Silicon to Silicon Valley. He toasted his crew of young engineers at Dinah's Shack restaurant in Palo Alto and put them to work in a new kind of firm.

Not too long after that, some of his savvy young engineers, called "The Traitorous Eight", resigned and started Fairchild Semiconductor.

"If you take a bale of hay and tie it to the tail of a mule and then strike a match and set the bale of hay on fire, and if you then compare the energy expended shortly thereafter by the mule with the energy expended by yourself in the striking of the match, you will understand the concept of amplification."

Like Professor Mansfield of Harvard spouting off this year about "manliness", Shockley besmirched his reputation by advancing racial intellience theories. Instead of being remembered solely as a major technologist, his reputation is that of a crackerbarrel racist. He advocated eugenics and the dubious research of Cyril Burt, trumpeted African American's "dysgenic" lower scores on IQ tests, and advocated people with IQs under 100 be paid to undergo voluntary sterilization He publicly donated sperm to a now-defunct bank called Repository for Germinal Choice, restricted to high IQ carriers, and (allegedly) some other Nobel Prizewinners besides spoutin' Shockley.

Like an old "All in the Family" tussle between Archie Bunker and his son-in-law Meathead, it's not unusal for my generation to be pissed off at our fathers' racism. My dad believed Jesse Owens won in the 1936 Olympics because of that "extra set of muscles". This summer I dawdle and am distracted from completing this project, disappointing or frustrating my collaboratiors Jim and Julie, as I struggle to swallow my inheritance of many rooms in that house on Pomona full of dusty, mouse-dropping'd laboratory test electronics, dating back to the era of Shockley's research and those dumb, dangerous societal ideas of his day.

 Reference consulted:

http://www.computerhistory.org/events/The_Rise_of_Silicon_Valley_EventSummary.pdf and video of talk
Time magazine article "William Shockley" of The TIME 100 http://www.time.com/time/time100/scientist/profile/shockley.html

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Travelogue by Julie Newdoll

July 13 2006: William Shockley was shipped without a GPS unit to Julie Newdoll's art studio. He will be wired and launched August 6 from an Any Mountain store in San Jose. Mountain climbing was one of Shockley's favorite hobbies. (The History of Computing Project http://www.thocp.net/). These photos were taken by Jim Pallas near his art studio in Michigan before Shockley was put on a truck to California.

August 6: Julie's whole family makes the trip to Any Mountain in San Jose to drop off Shockley. He looks so peaceful in the mountain setting of the storefront. He is not to enjoy this peace for long, however.

Any Mountain employees come outside to check him out. After calling it a "stupid art project", they call security. Security says we can not put him anywhere in the entire shopping mall. I am sure Jim Pallas will have something to say about this.
Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired Magazine and other great achievements (on the left), votes we take him to Fry's Electronics. He has come along to see Bill off.
Mario scouts out the shopping mall and finds a nice bus stop to take him to. We are not hopeful, but we will take him to Fry's if he sits there too long.
Later that evening, we get an email from Vince. Shockley has been picked up! Vince says, "I found bill at the bus stop at westgate mall. Somebody tipped him over and he was laying face down. A fate unbecoming to one of our founding fathers." I told Mario we needed a sandbag on his feet!

"Bill is recuperating and spending the night in my garage. In exchange for my hospitality he offered to ponder over some problem that has kept me (and him) busy for a while . He should finish his report by early morning upon
which time he shall be resume his journey

Attached a picture of bill at work."

The lighting in this photo is particularly beautiful.

August 7: We can see that Vince has been touring around with Shockley, but no new pictures from him yet. Good thing Shockley was inside his garage at night, or Ron Pottol (read about him on Hewlett and Packard's page) may have nabbed him! In the mean time, Shockley has been picked up by a new person, this time by a Bell Labs engineer. He writes, "My name is Darin Winterton, and I saw Willaim looking for a ride.  He seemed excited when I offered to give him a lift in my Corvette.  I have attached a picture of him by my Vette.
He then told me that he was going to an auction this weekend, and I thought he should look his best, so I took him to my girlfriends shop (Monica Lam) for a haircut and manicure.  You will see a couple of picture attached showing him look at his haircut in a mirror and giving a thumbs up at my girlfriend giving a haircut to Theresa.
Vincent thought that William would have a good time spending the night at my house, since I am also a Bell Labs Engineer (From AT&T and Lucent in the 1990's.  He will spend the night with me, and he will them come to my workplace (ST Microelectronics) tomorrow.
Another Engineer at the office will take him for a ride tomorrow.

August 10: While we are waiting to hear more about the adventures of Shockley, Julie and her family go to the original site of Shockley Labs at 391 San Antonio Road in Mountain View. I almost missed the "plaque", even while I was photographing it, which turned out to be a sign which had no mention of Shockley on it.

Shockley Labs was much smaller than I thought it would be. All that intense brain power under this roof! It must have been hot in there.

We went inside to tell them that Shockley was coming. No one in the store had ever heard of Shockley, or knew that their building was an historical landmark. Apparently, this is not a spot on the Silicon Valley History bus tour. They agreed to call me, however, when it showed up. If the last person to take it there would not mind contacting me first, that might be safer. Contact info is on the back of the cutout.

Just for comparison, here is the plaque at the old location of Fairchild Semiconductor at 844 East Charleston Road in Palo Alto. They were spiffing up the building at the time of this photo with a new paint job. It is no longer a "Repo Depot", which it had been for years.
See Shockley Travelogue page 1 2