So the first thing that I’ll tell people is how many Silicon Valleys we find today in the united states. One. So even the United States has not been able to replicate Silicon Valley there are places there are similar, like Boston, but no not the same thing. Obviously it is typical of the San Francisco Bay Area, there is something about the San Francisco bay area that was unique. It's so difficult to replicate, even in the United States.
When people in China are in Europe asked me how can we create our Silicon Valley, the answer is very obvious -- it's impossible. Even the united states cannot do it. There must be something very unique about Silicon Valley and then other places can can learn. When I wrote the book I started thinking what is so special and in actually it's really difficult to answer, because if you go back to nineteen fifty, even nineteen sixty, even nineteen seventy, even nineteen eighty, Silicon Valley there’s nothing special about the Bay Area in technology.
I usually start from nineteen fifty because I found this beautiful picture of what is now Silicon Valley. I found the picture that shows nothing, ok, empty fields that's nineteen fifty. Now nineteen fifty in in New York there was a street skyscrapers lots of money very powerful people. In Boston there was most at one point Boston had ninety percent of the software engineers in the world and the big electronic companies were on the is coast mostly around New York and New Jersey or in Europe, you know. Some very big electronic companies were based in Germany, Holland, even eagerly of course, Britain and money London. Ok. And then I have this picture in nineteen fifty Silicon Valley, nothing, you know. You see kilometers and kilometers of nothing. So it even bigger mystery because you know all the money was on the east coast or in Europe and the big electronic companies in East Coast, or Europe. You look at Nobel Prize winners in science, East Coast and Europe. California had 2 winners until nineteen fifty to fifty four.
There's nothing there that tells you oh this is where things are going to happen this is going to be the center of the world now nobody predicted that because if you look at if you live in nineteen fifty in New York or in London or in Beijing and you look at the bay area there's not a very little technology, this very little money, nothing special, you know. It's a very tiny share of the world's technology at the time and if you look at where things were invented, transistor, new jersey near New York, the computer was originally invented in the Cambridge in England, and then by and then commercialized by IBM in New York. It's really hard to explain what was so special about the bay area. So I studied the society. My theory is that you cannot just study technology and ignore the rest of society. Technology is one of the things in society, if you look at only technology, if you only study the history of technology, you will never explain what was special about the bay area, because there was very little, compared with other places in the world. So I started studying the society.
I realized what Silicon Valley does is really weird. For example, Silicon Valley does not really invent, very little was invented in Silicon Valley. When you think of the the major technologies that we have today, like computer, smartphone, the internet ,world wide web, social media, search engines, artificial intelligence, robots and so on and so on, and so many people think oh these came from silicon valley. It's not true. Almost all of them were invented somewhere else. Almost all of these things were invented somewhere else. So the mystery was really fascinating. I live there right, I live there for so long but even I was wondering why this is so strange, so unlikely. And that convinced me that you really have to look at the society, what does the society do in the bay area? Before I tell you the answer the more factors that tell you how important society is, when you think what a Silicon Valley really created, is not a technology, is the way you use the technology, like the start up. Start up you have a garage, right?
Silicon Valley history of garages that's what is different, right? That's what is different with the IBM and AT&T and the big European companies. Silicon Valley likes the garage. And even this period of going to work in Silicon Valley is a different experience. You go in blue jeans or shorts and T-shirt and you call your boss Jim or John, everything is so casual. So that's what is really different, that's what really Silicon Valley invented. It's a new way to go to work， to think about work to think about the career you know so it must be in the society there must be something in their society that is very different, and so that's why I started to study the society. Go back to nineteen fifty ，instead of focusing on the area that today is Silicon Valley， focus a little bit north ，San Francisco.
San Francisco was famous was already famous. Famous for crazy people. It was famous because crazy poets and crazy artist and I call them crazy but it's not nice, it's different. Now they were different. They were not the greatest poets they were not the greatest artist but they were different. San Francisco was a place they welcomed different ideas and some of them came with technology. For example, if one of the very first film schools in the world was in a San Francisco, this was a place where if you were doing something different. You are welcome and on the East Coast in Europe to do something different it's a little harder, you know, people don't really accept you. You are supposed to go to work, dressed well with the suit and tie, respectful of your boss and so there's a lot of rules how you have to behave in your life. In San Francisco, it was almost the opposite. No rules, okay, it was the place for the so called beat poets and then for the hippies. The gay movement was born in sufferance at a time when gays were discriminated everywhere. Of course today everybody knows Burning Man, so that's what was really special about san Francisco. Now that it was an area that accepted different people, an area that accepted different ideas, so that was already famous. If you live in the nineteen fifties, or sixties, or even seventies in New York and somebody asked you about San Francisco, you will know it is special.
早在50年代，旧金山已经十分有名，因疯狂的人而闻名。疯狂的诗人，疯狂的艺术家，我说他们疯狂，但其实这种叫法不好，他们只是与众不同而已，他们是独特的诗人，独特的艺术家，他们都和普通人不一样。但是旧金山就是这么一个欢迎不同的人的地方。这些人为旧金山带来了技术。旧金山欢迎那些特立独行的人。而在其他地方或者欧洲，如果你做的事情有所不同，生活就会很艰难，因为其他人不会接受你。你要去上班，穿着整齐，打好领带，尊重老板。你在其他地方生活中，需要墨守成规，而旧金山的情况却截然不同。所以，旧金山聚集了很多诗人、嬉皮士。在同性恋饱受歧视的年代，旧金山出现了为同性恋争取权利的活动。大家都知道火人节（Burning Man Festival）。旧金山的独特之处是包容性，它能够包容不同的人、不同的想法。如果你是生活在50年代的人，你问下当时在纽约居住的人，他们都知道旧金山，你就会知道他有如何特别。
But not because of the technology, it is special because it’s a strange society and then technology came out. People especially in china asked me if government has a role in silicon valley and in general we answer “no no no”. We don't like the government, we do our thing it's not completely true during WWII and during the cold war the united states invested in California in the military technology, that's how technology really came to the bay area. It was military technology originally so indirectly the government had a role, because all these military technology trained a lot of engineers a lot of the young people who were growing up in the bay area were exposed to electronics. So it had a role, and of course later the internet was invented by the government. So they were very important programs, there were government programs in silicon valley, NASA in the project, to send a man to the moon. Now we forget about in the sixties there was probably the biggest project in the US. The day were the first users of silicon of integrated circuits and one company was making the greatest circuits was Fairchild, which was now the first major semi conduct semiconductor company in a Silicon Valley. NASA still has a center at Mountain View. So he became the main customer of this small start up in silicon valley so indirectly the government had a role, because of the military technology, because of the space technology and some other research that was funded by the government. But the government did not plan silicon valley, the government had no idea that something crazy was happening there until much later, you know.