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Course, academic year 2023/2024
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America’s Silicon Valley: Global Hub of Technology Innovation - JTM617
Title: America’s Silicon Valley, Global Hub of Technology Innovation
Guaranteed by: Department of North American Studies (23-KAS)
Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences
Actual: from 2022
Semester: summer
E-Credits: 6
Examination process: summer s.:
Hours per week, examination: summer s.:1/1, Ex [HT]
Capacity: unknown / unknown (20)
Min. number of students: unlimited
4EU+: no
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
State of the course: not taught
Language: English
Teaching methods: full-time
Teaching methods: full-time
Note: course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: Barry D. Wood
PhDr. Jan Hornát, Ph.D.
Class: Courses for incoming students
Examination dates   Schedule   Noticeboard   
Last update: PhDr. Jan Hornát, Ph.D. (24.01.2022)
Situated 32-kilometers south of San Francisco, the Silicon Valley is the global center of technological innovation. The term Silicon Valley was first used in 1971. It caught on as silicon was pervasive in the manufacture of computer chips, then a critical Santa Clara Valley industry. The valley comprises small cities that radiate out from Stanford University in Palo Alto, whose engineering prowess produced some of the first tech entrepreneurs, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. A Hewlett Packard facility once occupied the Cupertino site where Apple Park—the spaceship (photo above)—now stands.

How did what once was a narrow swath of fruit orchards between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean evolve into a world center of technological innovation?

After World War II U.S. government research funding helped make Stanford a world leading university for electrical engineering. Professor William Shockley in 1956 received a Nobel prize for inventing the transistor, something that sparked the revolution in information technology. In 1968 Intel was formed, other chipmakers followed and the valley became a manufacturing center for semi-conductors.

But it was the 1976 invention of the personal computer by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, who grew up in the valley, that triggered massive growth. With the rise of the internet came new companies—Oracle, Cisco, Nvidia as well as Google, Facebook, Twitter—building hardware and writing software for a global industry.

Unprecedented wealth was created, venture capitalists financed entrepreneurial ventures Today 40 of the world’s biggest tech companies are headquartered in the Silicon Valley, which has become a magnet attracting the world’s best engineering and computer talent. Fifty- percent of engineering employees in the valley were born abroad.

New companies rise, most fail, some prosper. As with earlier winners, valley and San Francisco startups Uber, Airbnb, Doordash, Zoom disrupt the way we live. The Silicon Valley itself is being disrupted, today facing what arguably is its most formidable challenge-- China.
Aim of the course
Last update: PhDr. Jan Hornát, Ph.D. (24.01.2022)

To understand the evolution of technology in the post-World War II period, how money and engineering excellence at Stanford University led to the Silicon Valley being a center of technological innovation. How the inventions of the transistor, semi-conductor and internet facilitated new industries, how precision assembly of micro-circuitry and lower costs led to an offshoring of production to Asia, particularly China.  How the valley adapted, focusing on design and coding, how the ubiquity of consumer devices led to near monopoly power for Google and Facebook. How these companies, together with Apple—the world’s richest corporation-- dominate Silicon Valley operations. How a resilient valley seeks to combat Chinese competition and fend off tougher regulation.

Course completion requirements
Last update: PhDr. Jan Hornát, Ph.D. (24.01.2022)

Class participation is central. There will be one and possibly more debates. 20% of grade


One term paper focused on contribution of a single Valley entrepreneur (list to be provided), 2,000-word maximum, footnotes not required, handed in at beginning of Session 8. 40% of grade


Final exam, short essay questions, 40% of grade


Last update: PhDr. Jan Hornát, Ph.D. (24.01.2022)

The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America, Margaret O’Mara, 2019, chapter 25 and p 403-11


The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick, 2010, (chapters 2 Palo Alto, 3 Social Networking & the Internet)


The Four, the Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, Scott Galloway, 2017 (chapters 3, 4, 5)


Elon Musk:  Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, Ashlee Vance, 2017 (chapters 4 Elon’s First Startup, 5 Paypal Mafia Boss)


Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson, 2011 (chapters 40 To Infinity and 42 Legacy)


The Upstarts, Uber, Airbnb, and the Battle for the New Silicon Valley, Brad Stone, 2017 (chapters 1-5)


Teaching methods
Last update: PhDr. Jan Hornát, Ph.D. (31.01.2022)

Two week bloc course (7-22 April 2022)


Last update: PhDr. Jan Hornát, Ph.D. (31.01.2022)

Syllabus (Summer term 2022)


Two-week intensive course (7 April - 22 April, 2022)

Session 1 defined, why it is vital to human

 Progress, principal course reading: The Code: Silicon Valley and the

Remaking of America, intro p-7,


Session 2  History of Silicon Valley, where is it, why is it important,

Starting with Dave Packard’s garage 1939, Stanford, engineering                 

            government money, transistors, computers, internet, software, assignment:


Session 3  Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital the ease of starting a

 business and finding investors willing to take a chance, assignment: Elon Musk

book, chapter 4


Session 4  People who have made a difference, Steve Jobs, Sergei Brin,

Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Meg Whitman, Jack Dorsey, Elon

Musk—others, assignment: book, The Facebook Effect, chapter 2; The Four,

chapters 3, 4,5


Session 5  Offshoring Manufacturing, Rise of Tesla computer, chip

 production moves offshore while Tesla, led by tech entrepreneur

Elon Musk, becomes California’s biggest manufacturer. Assignment:

Elon Musk, chapter 5


Session 6  Apple, Google, Facebook  market dominance, power, wealth, assignment:

The Four, chapters 3, 4, 5,


Session 7 Ubiquitous Social Media Facebook whistleblower Frances

Haugen “I believe FB’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” regulation, assignment:  Facebook Effect, chapter 3


Session 8  Disruptors, Failures Yahoo, Theranos, Airbnb, Uber, Zoom, assignment:

            The Upstarts, chapters, chapters 1


Session 9  Competition from China Greater Bay Area, Huawei, Tiktok, assignment:




Session 10 What’s Next?  Summing up, where is Europe? Assignment:, 


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