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HandWiki. Frederick Terman. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 27 May 2024).
HandWiki. Frederick Terman. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed May 27, 2024.
HandWiki. "Frederick Terman" Encyclopedia, (accessed May 27, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 23). Frederick Terman. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Frederick Terman." Encyclopedia. Web. 23 November, 2022.
Frederick Terman

1. Introduction

Frederick Emmons Terman (/ˈtɜːrmən/; June 7, 1900 – December 19, 1982) was an American professor and academic administrator. He is widely credited (together with William Shockley) as being the father of Silicon Valley.[1]

2. Education

Terman completed his undergraduate degree in chemistry and his master's degree in electrical engineering at Stanford University.[2] His father, Lewis Terman, a psychologist who studied gifted children and popularized the IQ test in United States , was a professor at Stanford. His mother, Anna Belle Minton Terman, attended Central Normal College, Danville, Indiana, and taught English at a school nearby. In 1895 she met Lewis M. Terman at the school; the relationship ripened over the following years and they were married Sept. 15, 1899. They then followed Lewis' education at Indiana University and Clark University. Frederick Terman went on to earn an ScD in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1924.[3] His advisor at MIT was Vannevar Bush, who first proposed what became the National Science Foundation.[4]

3. Academic Career

Terman returned to Stanford in 1925 as a member of the engineering faculty.[3] From 1925 to 1941 Terman designed a course of study and research in electronics at Stanford that focused on work with vacuum tubes, circuits, and instrumentation.[4] He hired Charles Litton and Karl Spangenberg, a student of William Littell Everitt. Together they established a vacuum tube laboratory.[5] He also wrote Radio Engineering (first edition in 1932; second edition, much improved, in 1937; third edition in 1947 with added coverage of new technologies developed during World War II; fourth edition in 1955 with a new title, Electronic and Radio Engineering), one of the most important books on electrical and radio engineering, and to this day a good reference on those subjects. Terman's students at Stanford included Oswald Garrison Villard, Jr., Russell and Sigurd Varian, William Hewlett, and David Packard.[6] He encouraged his students to form their own companies and personally invested in many of them, resulting in firms such as Litton Industries, Varian Associates, and Hewlett-Packard.[7] Terman was president of the Institute of Radio Engineers in 1941.[8]

War years

During World War II, Terman directed a staff of more than 850 at the Radio Research Laboratory at Harvard University. This organization was the source of Allied jammers to block enemy radar, tunable receivers to detect radar signals, and aluminum strips ("chaff") to produce spurious reflections on enemy radar receivers. These countermeasures significantly reduced the effectiveness of radar-directed anti-aircraft fire.

3.1. Stanford Research Park and Silicon Valley

After the war Terman returned to Stanford and was appointed dean of the School of Engineering. In 1945 he was influential in the creation of a microwave research laboratory at the Stanford School of Physical Sciences.[9] In 1951 he spearheaded the creation of Stanford Industrial Park (now Stanford Research Park), whereby the University leased portions of its land to high-tech firms.[10] Companies such as Varian Associates, Hewlett-Packard, Eastman Kodak, General Electric, and Lockheed Corporation moved into Stanford Industrial Park and made the mid-Peninsula area into a hotbed of innovation which eventually became known as Silicon Valley.[11]

He served as Provost at Stanford from 1955 to 1965.[12] During his tenure, Terman greatly expanded the science, statistics and engineering departments in order to win more research grants from the Department of Defense. These grants, in addition to the funds that the patented research generated, helped to catapult Stanford into the ranks of the world's first class educational institutions, as well as spurring the growth of Silicon Valley. Terman's efforts to create a mutual relationship between Stanford and the tech companies in the surrounding area also significantly contributed to this growth.[13] Speaking of this effort, Terman said

When we set out to create a community of technical scholars in Silicon Valley, there wasn't much here and the rest of the world looked awfully big. Now a lot of the rest of the world is here
—Frederick Terman[1]

In 1964, Terman became a founding member of the National Academy of Engineering.[14] In 1966 Terman played a central role in helping the Park Chung-hee Administration establish the Korea Advanced Institute of Science, which later became KAIST.[15]

4. Recognition

  • He was awarded the IRE Medal of Honor in 1950 for "his many contributions to the radio and electronic industry as teacher, author, scientist and administrator".
  • The Frederick Emmons Terman Award was established in 1969 by the American Society for Engineering Education, Electrical and Computer Engineering Division. It is sponsored by Hewlett-Packard and is bestowed annually upon an outstanding young electrical engineering educator.[16][17]
  • The Frederick Emmons Terman Engineering Scholastic Award is presented to the students that rank academically in the top five percent of the graduating senior class from the Stanford University School of Engineering.[18]
  • Stanford's Frederick Emmons Terman Engineering Center (1977-2011) was named in his honor.
  • Terman Middle School, in Palo Alto, California and the adjacent Terman Park were named after Terman and his father. In 2018, the Palo Alto Unified School District school board unanimously decided to rename the school in honor of Ellen Fletcher after Terman's father involvement with the eugenics movement came to the notice of parents and the school board. At the time of the renaming of the middle school, the city of Palo Alto had yet to decide if they would also rename the adjacent park.[19]
  • Terman, following his 'Terman Report' for the purpose of helping found what later became KAIST, is the eponym of Terman Hall.
  • A section of U.S. Route 101 in California near Palo Alto is officially designated and signed as the Frederick E. Terman Memorial Highway.
Further Reading
In this part, we encourage you to list the link of papers wrote by the character, or published reviews/articles about his/her academic contributions. Edit


  1. Palo Alto History Project
  2. "Biography revisits Fred Terman's roles in engineering, Stanford, Silicon Valley". Stanford Report. Retrieved 3 June 2016. 
  3. Issues in Cyberspace: From Privacy to Piracy. Britannica Educational Publishing. 1 November 2011. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-61530-738-8. 
  4. Gillmor, C. Stewart (2004). Fred Terman at Stanford: Building a Discipline, a University, and Silicon Valley. Stanford University Press. p. 558. ISBN 978-0-8047-4914-5. 
  5. Christophe Lécuyer (August 24, 2007) (trade paperback). Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970. The MIT Press. pp. 49, 50. ISBN 978-0262622110. 
  6. Gillmor, C. Stewart. Fred Terman at Stanford: Building a Discipline, a University, and Silicon Valley. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2004. Print.
  7. Leslie, Stuart W., and Robert H. Kargon. "Selling Silicon Valley: Frederick Terman's Model for Regional Advantage." Business History Review 70.04 (1996): 435-72. Print.
  8. "Frederick Terman". IEEE Global History Network. IEEE. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  9. National Academy of Sciences (20 January 2007). Biographical Memoirs. National Academies Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-309-10389-3. 
  10. Sandelin, John, The Story of the Stanford Industrial/Research Park, 2004
  11. Fallis, George (2007). Multiversities, Ideas and Democracy. University of Toronto Press. p. 272. ISBN 978-0-8020-9240-3. 
  12. Chodorow, Marvin (September 1983). "Obituary: Frederick E. Terman". Physics Today 36 (9): 90–91. doi:10.1063/1.2915869.
  13. Lécuyer, Christophe. Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970.Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2006. Print.
  14. "Founding members of the National Academy of Engineering". National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved October 21, 2012. 
  15. "KAIST's history and vision". KAIST. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  16. "Professional and Technical Division Awards". American Society for Engineering Education. Retrieved November 3, 2010. 
  17. "Past Frederick Emmons Terman Award Winners". American Society for Engineering Education. Archived from the original on 2011-02-13. Retrieved November 3, 2010. 
  18. Stanford Scholastic Awards
  19. "School name changes begin — so long Terman and Jordan". Palo Alto Daily Post. July 1, 2018. 
Name: Frederick Terman
Born: Jun 1900
Died: Dec 1982
English, Indiana, U.S.
Titles: American professor Academic administrator
Affiliations: Stanford University Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Honors: IEEE Medal of Honor (1950) IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal (1956) IEEE Founders Medal (1963) National Medal of Science (1975)
Subjects: Others
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View Times: 516
Entry Collection: HandWiki
Revision: 1 time (View History)
Update Date: 23 Nov 2022
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