Fred English’s compelling images chronicle the evolution of Silicon Valley through its companies, products, landscapes, and architecture from the 1950s through the 1990s. The thousands of photos he took illuminate the rich environment that helped to create modern technology.
Donated in 2017, the Frederick English Collection is CHM’s largest photographic collection. As shown in the photo above, it takes up 97 linear feet of shelving and contains 4,369 folders of material!
We’re working to digitize 15,000 items, or 80% of the collection, and make them available to the public. CHM staff has selected a few images to share that demonstrate the scope of the collection.
This photo features a product (do you know what it is?) from the Ninic Corporation in 1966. Usually photographers used common office supplies such as a pencil or paper clip to show scale, but these toy figures of a sentry booth and a British king’s guard are a fun alternative.(Catalog number: 102807950-03-0001)
This 1966 image was taken in Menlo Park in the heart of Silicon Valley and shows an Electroglas employee operating equipment used in the manufacturing of semiconductor electronics. (Catalog number: 102802591-03-0069)
This ad for Philco Ford Mass Logic Modules shows English’s skill as a photographer. In the 1969 photo, he displays a technical item in a way that’s beautiful and interesting. (Catalog number: 102802689-03-00)
This circa 1955 image of an early mid-century modern model home was clearly designed to bring the outside in with the inclusion of large glass walls celebrating the San Francisco Bay Area climate. (Catalog number: 102804356-03-0018)
This 1969 image depicts the height of modern kitchen design, with colored tiles and all-new appliances designed and built by Fair Kitchens Inc. in either San Mateo or San Francisco. (Catalog number: 102800869-03-0008)
This historic photo was given to Fred English and shows the aftermath and efforts to rebuild after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. It is an example of the wide scope of the collection. (Catalog number: 102804385-03-0004)
This photo was taken October 21, 1966, as part part of RayTek’s “Hottest Gun in the West” promotional campaign featuring a handheld infrared thermometer called the Raynger. A Google search reveals that the product is still sold today! (Catalog number: 102802558-03-0001)
Fred English was born in Wadsworth, Ohio, in 1926. After serving in World War II, he studied photography, and in 1952, he moved with his wife and children to Burlingame, where he established a studio in Foreman’s Camera store in San Mateo. By 1956, he was ready to open his own commercial photography studio in Belmont and later Redwood City. He photographed the development of the transistor and early computer technology with companies like Shockley Semiconductor, Fairchild, Intel, and General Electric. Fred continued to work until retiring in his late 80s.
Our dedicated CHM Members help us to preserve important and unique historical materials like the Frederick English Collection and make them accessible to everyone.
Learn more about how you can help us meet our mission to decode technology for everyone here.