Silicon Valley is a region in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California that serves as a global center for high technology and innovation. The area is home to many of the world's largest and influential technology companies, such as Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Nvidia, and Apple Inc.
Silicon Valley corresponds roughly to the geographical Santa Clara Valley. San Jose is Silicon Valley's largest city, the third-largest in California, and the tenth-largest in the United States; other major Silicon Valley cities include Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Redwood City, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Cupertino, where Apple is headquartered. The San Jose Metropolitan Area has the third-highest GDP per capita in the world (after Zurich, Switzerland and Oslo, Norway), according to the Brookings Institution.
History of the term
The popularization of the name is credited to Don Hoefler. He first used it in the article "Silicon Valley USA", which appeared in the January 11, 1971 issue of the weekly trade newspaper Electronic News. However, it took about a decade before the term came into common use. The term gained widespread use in the early 1980s, at the time of the introduction of the IBM PC and numerous related hardware and software products to the consumer market.
The word "silicon" in the name originally referred to the large number of innovators and manufacturers in the region specializing in silicon-based MOS transistors and integrated circuit chips. The area is now home to many of the world's largest high-tech corporations, including the headquarters of more than 30 businesses in the Fortune 1000, and thousands of startup companies. Silicon Valley also accounts for one-third of all of the venture capital investment in the United States, which has helped it to become a leading hub and startup ecosystem for high-tech innovation and scientific development. It was in Silicon Valley that the silicon-based integrated circuit, the microprocessor, and the microcomputer, among other technologies, were developed. As of 2013, the region employed about a quarter of a million information technology workers.
As more high-tech companies were established across San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley, and then north towards the Bay Area's two other major cities, San Francisco and Oakland, the term "Silicon Valley" has come to have two definitions: a narrower geographic one, referring to Santa Clara County and southeastern San Mateo County, and a metonymical definition referring to high-tech businesses in the entire Bay Area. The term Silicon Valley is often used as a synecdoche for the American high-technology economic sector. The name also became a global synonym for leading high-tech research and enterprises, and thus inspired similar named locations, as well as research parks and technology centers with a comparable structure all around the world.
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