Friday October 1, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Stanford University
On this Day:
In 1891, Stanford University, California opened its doors after being founded by Leland Stanford and his wife Jane with a $40M donation (1891 dollars), in memory of their son. Among its first graduation class, future US President Herbert Hoover.
Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies 8,180 acres, among the largest in the United States, and enrolls over 17,000 students. Stanford is ranked among the best universities in the world by academic publications.
Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Leland Stanford was a U.S. senator and former governor of California who made his fortune as a railroad tycoon. The school admitted its first students on October 1, 1891, as a coeducational and non-denominational institution, located on Stanford’s previous Palo Alto farm. Stanford University struggled financially after the death of Leland Stanford in 1893 and again after much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Following World War II, provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates’ entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would later be known as Silicon Valley.
The university is organized around seven schools: three schools consisting of 40 academic departments at the undergraduate level as well as four professional schools that focus on graduate programs in law, medicine, education, and business. All schools are on the same campus. Students compete in 36 varsity sports, and the university is one of two private institutions in the Division I FBS Pac-12 Conference. It has gained 128 NCAA team championships, and Stanford won the NACDA Directors’ Cup for 25 consecutive years, beginning in 1994–1995 and ending in 2018–2019. In addition, as of 2021, Stanford students and alumni have won at least 296 Olympic medals including 150 gold medals.
As of April 2021, 84 Nobel laureates, 29 Turing Award laureates, and eight Fields Medalists have been affiliated with Stanford as students, alumni, faculty, or staff. In addition, Stanford is particularly noted for its entrepreneurship and is one of the most successful universities in attracting funding for start-ups. Stanford alumni have founded numerous companies, which combined produce more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue and have created 5.4 million jobs as of 2011, roughly equivalent to the 7th largest economy in the world (as of 2020). Stanford is the alma mater of one president of the United States (Herbert Hoover), 74 living billionaires, and 17 astronauts. It is also one of the leading producers of Fulbright Scholars, Marshall Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, and members of the United States Congress.
Jane and Leland Stanford modelled their university after the great eastern universities, most specifically Cornell University. Stanford was referred to as the “Cornell of the West” in 1891 due to a majority of its faculty being former Cornell affiliates (professors, alumni, or both), including its first president, David Starr Jordan, and second president, John Casper Branner. Both Cornell and Stanford were among the first to have higher education be accessible, nonsectarian, and open to women as well as to men. Cornell is credited as one of the first American universities to adopt this radical departure from traditional education, and Stanford became an early adopter as well.
From an architectural point of view, the Lelands, particularly Jane, wished to see their university look different from the eastern universities, which had often sought to emulate the style of English university buildings. They specified in the founding grant that the buildings should “be like the old adobe houses of the early Spanish days; they will be one-storied; they will have deep window seats and open fireplaces, and the roofs will be covered with the familiar dark red tiles”. This guides the campus buildings to this day. The Lelands also hired renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the campus.
When Leland Stanford died in 1893, the continued existence of the university was in jeopardy due to a federal lawsuit against his estate, but Jane Stanford insisted the university remain in operation throughout the financial crisis. When the university suffered major damage from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake; most of the damage was repaired, but a new library and gymnasium were demolished, and some original features of Memorial Church and the Quad were never restored.
During the early 20th century the university added four professional graduate schools. Stanford University School of Medicine was established in 1908 when the university acquired Cooper Medical College in San Francisco which it moved to the Stanford campus in 1959. The university’s law department, established as an undergraduate curriculum in 1893, was transitioned into a professional law school starting in 1908, and received accreditation from the American Bar Association in 1923. The Stanford Graduate School of Education grew out of the Department of the History and Art of Education, one of the original 21 departments at Stanford, and became a professional graduate school in 1917. The Stanford Graduate School of Business was founded in 1925 at the urging of then-trustee Herbert Hoover. In 1919, The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was started by Herbert Hoover to preserve artifacts related to World War I. The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (originally named the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center), established in 1962, performs research in particle physics.
In the 1940s and 1950s, engineering professor and later provost Frederick Terman encouraged Stanford engineering graduates to invent products and start their own companies. During the 1950s he established Stanford Industrial Park, a high-tech commercial campus on university land. Also in the 1950s William Shockley, co-inventor of the silicon transistor, recipient of the 1956 Nobel Prize for Physics, and later professor of physics at Stanford, moved to the Palo Alto area and founded a company, Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. The next year eight of his employees resigned and formed a competing company, Fairchild Semiconductor. The presence of so many high-tech and semiconductor firms helped to establish Stanford and the mid-Peninsula as a hotbed of innovation, eventually named Silicon Valley after the key ingredient in transistors. Shockley and Terman are often described, separately or jointly, as the “fathers of Silicon Valley”.
Discoveries and Inventions arising from Stanford:
- Biological synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) – Arthur Kornberg synthesized DNA material and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959 for his work at Stanford.
- First Transgenic organism – Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer were the first scientists to transplant genes from one living organism to another, a fundamental discovery for genetic engineering. Thousands of products have been developed on the basis of their work, including human growth hormone and hepatitis B vaccine.
- Laser – Arthur Leonard Schawlow shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics with Nicolaas Bloembergen and Kai Siegbahn for his work on lasers.
- Nuclear magnetic resonance – Felix Bloch developed new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements, which are the underlying principles of the MRI.
Computer and applied sciences:
- ARPANET – Stanford Research Institute, formerly part of Stanford but on a separate campus, was the site of one of the four original ARPANET nodes.
- Internet—Stanford was the site where the original design of the Internet was undertaken. Vint Cerf led a research group to elaborate the design of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP/IP) that he originally co-created with Robert E. Kahn (Bob Kahn) in 1973 and which formed the basis for the architecture of the Internet.
- Frequency modulation synthesis – John Chowning of the Music department invented the FM music synthesis algorithm in 1967, and Stanford later licensed it to Yamaha Corporation.
- Google – Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford. They were working on the Stanford Digital Library Project (SDLP). The SDLP’s goal was “to develop the enabling technologies for a single, integrated and universal digital library” and it was funded through the National Science Foundation, among other federal agencies.
- Klystron tube – invented by the brothers Russell and Sigurd Varian at Stanford. Their prototype was completed and demonstrated successfully on August 30, 1937. Upon publication in 1939, news of the klystron immediately influenced the work of U.S. and UK researchers working on radar equipment.
- RISC – ARPA funded VLSI project of microprocessor design. Stanford and UC Berkeley are most associated with the popularization of this concept. The Stanford MIPS would go on to be commercialized as the successful MIPS architecture, while Berkeley RISC gave its name to the entire concept, commercialized as the SPARC. Another success from this era were IBM’s efforts that eventually led to the IBM POWER instruction set architecture, PowerPC, and Power ISA. As these projects matured, a wide variety of similar designs flourished in the late 1980s and especially the early 1990s, representing a major force in the Unix workstation market as well as embedded processors in laser printers, routers and similar products.
- SUN workstation – Andy Bechtolsheim designed the SUN workstation for the Stanford University Network communications project as a personal CAD workstation, which led to Sun Microsystems.
Businesses and entrepreneurship:
Stanford is one of the most successful universities in creating companies and licensing its inventions to existing companies; it is often held up as a model for technology transfer. Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing is responsible for commercializing university research, intellectual property, and university-developed projects.
The university is described as having a strong venture culture in which students are encouraged, and often funded, to launch their own companies.
Companies founded by Stanford alumni generate more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world.
Some companies closely associated with Stanford and their connections include:
- Hewlett-Packard, 1939, co-founders William R. Hewlett (B.S, PhD) and David Packard (M.S).
- Silicon Graphics, 1981, co-founders James H. Clark (Associate Professor) and several of his grad students.
- Sun Microsystems, 1982, co-founders Vinod Khosla (M.B.A), Andy Bechtolsheim (PhD) and Scott McNealy (M.B.A).
- Cisco, 1984, founders Leonard Bosack (M.S) and Sandy Lerner (M.S) who were in charge of Stanford Computer Science and Graduate School of Business computer operations groups respectively when the hardware was developed.
- Yahoo!, 1994, co-founders Jerry Yang (B.S, M.S) and David Filo (M.S).
- Google, 1998, co-founders Larry Page (M.S) and Sergey Brin (M.S).
- LinkedIn, 2002, co-founders Reid Hoffman (B.S), Konstantin Guericke (B.S, M.S), Eric Lee (B.S), and Alan Liu (B.S).
- Instagram, 2010, co-founders Kevin Systrom (B.S) and Mike Krieger (B.S).
- Snapchat, 2011, co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy (B.S).
- Coursera, 2012, co-founders Andrew Ng (Associate Professor) and Daphne Koller (Professor, PhD) (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
Accordion to a study done by Stanford University, 9 out 10 people don’t notice when musical instruments are substituted for words in a sentence.
Second, a Song:
Steven Paul Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an American business magnate, industrial designer, investor, and media proprietor. He was the chairman, chief executive officer (CEO), and co-founder of Apple Inc.; the chairman and majority shareholder of Pixar; a member of The Walt Disney Company’s board of directors following its acquisition of Pixar; and the founder, chairman, and CEO of NeXT. Jobs is widely recognized as a pioneer of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s, along with his early business partner and fellow Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Jobs was born in San Francisco, California, and put up for adoption. He was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He attended Reed College in 1972 before dropping out that same year, and traveled through India in 1974 seeking enlightenment and studying Zen Buddhism.
Jobs and Wozniak co-founded Apple in 1976 to sell Wozniak’s Apple I personal computer. Together the duo gained fame and wealth a year later with the Apple II, one of the first highly successful mass-produced microcomputers. Jobs saw the commercial potential of the Xerox Alto in 1979, which was mouse-driven and had a graphical user interface (GUI). This led to the development of the unsuccessful Apple Lisa in 1983, followed by the breakthrough Macintosh in 1984, the first mass-produced computer with a GUI. The Macintosh introduced the desktop publishing industry in 1985 with the addition of the Apple LaserWriter, the first laser printer to feature vector graphics. Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985 after a long power struggle with the company’s board and its then-CEO John Sculley. That same year, Jobs took a few of Apple’s members with him to found NeXT, a computer platform development company that specialized in computers for higher-education and business markets. In addition, he helped to develop the visual effects industry when he funded the computer graphics division of George Lucas’s Lucasfilm in 1986. The new company was Pixar, which produced the first 3D computer animated feature film Toy Story (1995), and went on to become a major animation studio, producing over 20 films since then.
Jobs became CEO of Apple in 1997, following his company’s acquisition of NeXT. He was largely responsible for helping revive Apple, which had been on the verge of bankruptcy. He worked closely with designer Jony Ive to develop a line of products that had larger cultural ramifications, beginning in 1997 with the “Think different” advertising campaign and leading to the iMac, iTunes, iTunes Store, Apple Store, iPod, iPhone, App Store, and the iPad. In 2001, the original Mac OS was replaced with the completely new Mac OS X (now known as macOS), based on NeXT’s NeXTSTEP platform, giving the OS a modern Unix-based foundation for the first time. Jobs was diagnosed with a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor in 2003. He died of respiratory arrest related to the tumor at age 56 on October 5, 2011 (per Wikipedia).
In 2005, Steve Jobs gave the Commencement Address to the graduating class at Stanford.
“Drawing from some of the most pivotal points in his life, Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks — including death itself — at the university’s 114th Commencement on June 12, 2005.” (per Stanford and YouTube.com).
Here is Steve’s Commencement Address. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“My father was a physicist and also an activist. My first public protest was with my dad at Stanford. I came by all that honestly.” – Joan Baez
Further to the Robinson Crusoe Smile, the Rev. Bob Beasley of Pain-Court, Ontario, Canada writes:
I love your daily smiles, and always look forward to seeing what the musical offering is each day. Good choice on the Robinson Crusoe song. I hope it’s okay to offer a second choice. Back in 1980 David Wallechinsky and Irving and Amy Wallace published The Book of Lists. One of the lists was “The Worst Song Titles” which included “Where did Robinson Crusoe Go with Friday on Saturday Night.” I thought the song title was brilliant, but that was pre-internet so I couldn’t find out anything else about the song at the time. I have since discovered it was a classic Al Jolson piece and was a bit hit back in 1916. Here is a youtube version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koVDuEvuOuI
and Gerry Wahl of North Vancouver, BC, Canada, to the Thought of the Day in the Robinson Crusoe Smile (“Expect nothing and you’ll always be surprised” – Daniel Defoe) writes:
“Same type of reason that is always good to be a pessimist.
If you are right you are prescient – a genius. If you are wrong you are overjoyed. “
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky