It is here that Somerset Development Corporation is creating an indoor, climate-controlled, mixed-use facility out of that two-million-square-foot structure. It’s called Bell Works and it already has a library, post office, restaurants, shops, and office space. Things like extraterrestrial radio emissions, undersea cables, and satellite transmission systems were pioneered at this facility. It will be interesting to see what the new office tenants will come up with.
There are many more examples of innovation in the east. Beyond RCA and Bell Labs are companies like General Electric (GE), Digital Equipment Corporation, and IBM. Let’s not forget that Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein hail from the east coast. There are two specific stories about GE and IBM worth mentioning.
In the 1980s I was part of a large RCA contingent visiting IBM’s semiconductor facilities. We were looking for joint venture opportunities. One brisk fall morning, we were picked up by buses at an IBM-run hotel facility and brought to a huge IBM auditorium. The person who kicked off the event started with, “Welcome ladies and gentlemen to IBM, where we employ more people in semiconductor research than all of Silicon Valley combined, times three.” That statement stayed with me.
In 1986, GE bought RCA, a huge transaction touching many businesses. I was part of RCA Solid State merging with GE Semiconductor. I ran the CAD group (as it was called then). I recall visiting the GE Semiconductor headquarters in Research Triangle Park at One Micron Drive. I always felt that choice of address was a bit short-sighted. While there, I met a guy who was leading GE’s logical design effort. He had just finished his PhD thesis in logic synthesis by developing a program called Socrates. That person was Aart de Geus and, as they say, the rest is history. I hope you were able to catch Aart and the rest of the Synopsys management team ringing the opening bell at NASDAQ recently.