The early years

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Levi Strauss


Levi Strauss arrives in San Francisco in the middle of the gold rush and sets up a wholesale dry goods business to supply the fortyniners with supplies for their mining operations. 

In 1870 Jacob Davis starts making strong pants for the miners using materials bought from Levi Strauss stores. These pants featured copper rivets at the pocket corners as reinforcements to allow carrying of tools.

 On May 20 1873 Strauss and Davis receive US patent 139121 on this usage of copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim pants. Denim is an anglicism of de-nimes, menaing from the city of Nimes in France. This was the name given to a specific kind of cotton woven cloth typically dyed indigo blue. Jean is an anglicism for Genoa, a city in italy where the first trousers were constructed out of denim.

They incorporate as Levi Strauss & Co and begin marketing the first ‘waist overalls’ or blue jeans using the patented copper reinforcements. Out of several styles Lot number 501 became the most popular jeans and is still manufactured today.



James Lick

Lick Observatory 3

At the request of James Lick construction is begun on an observatory on top of Mount Hamilton in San Jose. First light was seen through the, then largest, telescope in the world, on January 1888. The station is still in operation today and is the world’s oldest permanent observation station. Several moons of Jupiter were discovered with this telescope as well as multiple extra-solar planets.


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Leland Stanford

Stanford University, named after its founder former railroad tycoon, California governor and senator Leland Stanford, was founded in Palo Alto. It would become one of the world’s leading universities and generate more successful graduates than any other university. The university started a technology grant that would be the first successful incubator and start the technological avalanche that would turn the Palo Alto to San Jose Valley into the technology hotbed it is today. Under impulse of Professor Frederic Terman, the dean of engineering the Stanford research Park was started in 1935. The idea was to stimulate local economical growth by keeping the graduates close by. The SRP would thus become essentially the first venture capitalist company.

© Vincent Himpe 2016