Making (Computer) History

The Computer History Museum recorded oral histories from Bill Carter ’71Pat Gelsinger ’83, and William Carrico Jr ’72.

Making (Computer) History

Santa Clara University grows in Silicon Valley soil. And SCU values seep back into the earth. So it’s no surprise that as the Computer History Museum records the Valley’s beginnings, it’s captured a few Bronco stories. That includes oral histories from trustee Bill Carter ’71, an early semiconductor designer, VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger ’83, and computer scientist William Carrico Jr. ’72, a leader at Cisco Systems and elsewhere.

Gelsinger was an incredibly young student, across the country from family, and already working at Intel when he arrived on campus. He found himself feeling a calling to ministry when he discovered the idea of being a “workplace minister,” he says in the history.

“This idea of being a workplace minister… I started to really resonate with that and what that means and how you really view yourself as working for God as your CEO, even though you’re working for Intel,” he says. It is an idea he carried with him throughout his career.

Pat Gelsinger ’83 was Intel’s first Chief Technology Officer. In this video he discusses growing up in a Pennsylvania farming community and his recruitment to the tech world of Silicon Valley in the early 1980s.Video courtesy Computer History Museum.

Growing up in Billings, Montana, and, later, Sunnyvale, Carrico became a significant figure in commercial computer networking, co-founding Bridge Communications. In his history, Carrico recalls the cultural climate of 1960’s Silicon Valley. “I think that it is true that entrepreneur opportunities are alive and well,” he says. However, “ the character of them is changing in that it’s getting more and more complicated.”

It was a difficult job market in Silicon Valley in the early 1970s, recalls William Carrico Jr. ’72, who earned a degree in electrical engineering from Santa Clara. So he turned to management-oriented work as a product marketing engineer at Fairchild Semiconductors following his graduation.Video courtesy the Computer History Museum.

Carter calls getting into Santa Clara the best thing that ever happened—introducing him to his wife and launching his career.

“It was an intimate school for an engineering organization. It’s not a big research university, but it’s a place where they focus on actually teaching, and I got to know the professors personally,” he says in his oral history. “And I needed that one-on-one guidance at that point of my life, and it was really important.”

It’s an education he leans on today. “Later on, I said those philosophy classes that they made me take that I put up with kicking and screaming—why didn’t I take more of those? These are where the real important questions in life are.”

Bill Carter ’71 describes his distinguished career in a variety of technical positions at Zilog and Xilinx, two of the most successful semiconductor companies in Silicon Valley. Video courtesy the Computer History Museum.
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