Beckman Instruments, Inc.

Founded in the 1930s by Dr. Arnold O. Beckman, Beckman Instruments first marketed analytical apparatus to chemical laboratories. In 1955, Beckman hired William Shockley, co-inventor of the transistor, to head up its new semiconductor division in Mountain View, California. The following year, Shockley won the Nobel Prize and began personally recruiting top researchers in the country to work for him.

Although brilliant, Shockley could be erratic managerially and eight of his key employees—whom he later called ‘the traitorous eight,’ left to found Fairchild Semiconductor, the single most important company behind the transformation of the fruit-bearing Valley of Heart's Delight into Silicon Valley the world center of semiconductor and computer research.

The Beckman firm took over several other companies and, for a few years in the 1980s, merged with the SmithKline Corporation but eventually became it own entity again. It is now a major multinational corporation in the health care instrumentation field.