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Destination guides > North America > USA > West Coast > California > San Jose & Silicon Valley

San Jose & Silicon Valley

San Jose and Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco, are known around the world as a hub for technology industries.


The garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started their electronics business (Hewlett-Packard) is considered to be the birthplace of Silicon Valley but it is Stanford University that gets credit for Silicon Valley's rise as a technology centre. After World War II Stanford University set up Stanford Industrial Park - later renamed Stanford Research Park - for Stanford graduates to base their business technology ventures. Stanford Industrial Park's first tenant was Varian Associates and it was soon joined by Hewlett-Packard, which outgrew the garage in Palo Alto that it was founded in.


Silicon Valley has seen many technological breakthroughs including the development of the silicon transistor in 1953, the mouse in the mid-1960s, the graphical user interface (invented by Xerox, popularised by Apple and now used by most operating systems), the laser printer (also invented by Xerox) and the PDA (invented by Apple but popularised by Palm). In fact 10 of America's 20 most-inventive cities are in Silicon Valley with San Jose filing more patent applications than any other city in the United States and nearby Sunnyvale coming in at number two. The intense concentration of high tech industries has seen many companies start up in Silicon Valley including Adobe, Apple, Cisco, eBay, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Intuit, Palm, Silicon Graphics, Xerox and Yahoo!


San Jose, at the southern end of San Francisco Bay, is the biggest city in Silicon Valley with over 1.5 million inhabitants and most of Silicon Valley's visitor attractions are located here and in neighbouring Santa Clara. However the Valley has many other important centres including Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park (the world's biggest concentration of venture capital firms), as well as the downtown areas of Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto.

San Jose, CA (Photo Terry Wilson/iStockphoto)

Practical information

San Jose Visitor Information Center

San José McEnery Convention Center, 125 S Market Street, San Jose, CA 95113
Bus 55, 63, 64, 65, 79, 81, 180, 181, 201 (stop: San Fernando/Almaden) light rail Convention Center
Tel (408) 792 4173
Open Mon-Fri 8am-5.30pm

Santa Clara Visitor Information Center

1850 Warburton Avenue, Santa Clara, CA 95050
Bus 22, 522 (stop: El Camino & Scott)
Tel 1800 272 6822


As you can expect, Silicon Valley is a wired town and internet access is everywhere, but it is much easier to find wireless access for your notebook than a conventional internet café.


612 S Mary Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94087
Bus 22 (stop: El Camino & Mary)
Tel (408) 733 3712
Open Mon-Thu noon-2am, Fri-Sat noon-4am, Sun noon-2am


There are loads of places with free Wi-Fi connections throughout Silicon Valley so you don't need to look far if you're travelling with your own computer. AnchorFree operate a free Wi-Fi hotzone in along University Avenue (between High Street and Middlefield Road) in Palo Alto and Google provides a free Wi-Fi zone covering a large part of Mountain View.


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