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Inside the Mindset of Silicon Valley's Tech Innovators Find out what makes these gurus tick.

By Jason Ankeny Edited by Frances Dodds

This story appears in the February 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Gabriela Hasbun
The essence of the Valley: Steve Blank.

Home to many of the world's most influential technology companies as well as thousands of promising startups, Silicon Valley is the launchpad for multiple generations of entrepreneurial talent. But there are skilled, capable founders, and then there are the true visionaries—those lightning-in-a-bottle geniuses whose products and services change the world. What separates the best from the rest?

Fred Terman knew genius when he saw it. Widely regarded as the father of Silicon Valley, Terman in 1925 joined Stanford University's engineering faculty, where his students redefined the notion of precociousness. Chief among them, William Hewlett and David Packard went on to launch their eponymous IT firm in a Palo Alto, Calif., garage two miles northeast of campus; brothers Russell and Sigurd Varian later founded Varian Associates and invented the klystron tube, a high-frequency amplifier for generating microwaves.

Terman was an early investor in both companies—two of the first Silicon Valley firms to go public—and sat on their boards, as well as those of electronics manufacturers Ampex and Watkins-Johnson, other startups at the vanguard of the Bay Area's technology culture.

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