Edit ModuleShow Tags

From the Archives: San Diego's 'Telecom Valley' in 1997

We look back to San Diego's big break into wireless innovations, beginning with Qualcomm in Sorrento Valley


Published:

San Diego tech giant Qualcomm has been in the news recently, after it received—and rejected—an unsolicited $130 billion buyout offer from competitor Broadcom.

But the big Q is no stranger to San Diego Magazine. In 1997, executive editor Virginia Butterfield took a deep dive into our “Telecom Valley,” documenting the booming industry. Wireless technology was a major innovation back then—the same year the Pathfinder mission landed a rover on Mars, and the Heaven’s Gate cult cast a pall over San Diego.

“Wireless is the way to go, and it’s a hot industry in Sorrento Valley,” Butterfield proclaimed. “With Qualcomm and 70 other cutting-edge companies, San Diego has become the wireless capital of the world.”

At the time, Qualcomm boasted 7,500 employees and made around 100 new hires every month. Its campus was growing at such a breakneck speed that Ron Magnaghi, a commercial real estate agent, said his company was running out of buildings in Sorrento Valley. “The same shortage is true of housing within a 10-mile radius of Qualcomm,” he said.

Twenty-one years later, Qualcomm now has over 33,500 employees—more than twice the capacity of Valley View Casino Center—and 185 offices worldwide, 40 of which are local. Qualcomm QA specialist Ryan Arnold can’t see the Morehouse Drive headquarters outgrowing its neighborhood today. “From what I’ve seen around the area, there are several new constructions going up, and older buildings are being refurbished,” he says, adding that a lot of the company’s growth is happening overseas.

Butterfield’s story also mentioned foreign corporations with a large San Diego presence, including Finnish tech company Nokia, which employed around 200 people locally and was on the forefront of cell phone innovation.

“One intriguing product: a digital phone with wildly individualized ringing tones that include Tarzan’s yell, a rock ’n’ roll riff, and a Finnish polka,” Butterfield wrote, adding for emphasis: “Imagine the audio mayhem caused by multiple phones going off at a concert.”

Ringing tones? Mayhem, indeed.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

From the Archives: When North County Was "San Diego's Resort Country"

In March 1990, North County San Diego was teeming with resorts, French cuisine, and tennis courts

Enter San Diego’s Cutest Pet Contest

Your furry family member could win a pet prize package and be featured in San Diego Magazine

National Conflict Resolution Center's Peacemaker Awards Dinner Raises More Than $1 Million

Plus La Jolla Playhouse's annual Gala and the Globe Guilders Celebrating Couture each a glamorous success
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Vote Now for San Diego's Best Restaurants 2019
    From pho to fries, you can choose San Diego's best eats and drinks in 99 categories
  2. Puesto's Next Top Taco
    Submit your best taco recipe for the chance to win a grand prize
  3. Restaurants Are Dying; Here’s the Solution
    It’s simple math, but the state of California refuses to allow it
  4. 21 Ultimate Road Trip Itineraries from San Diego
    These getaways will take you through California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Mexico
  5. Best of North County 2019
    Our annual roundup of what's up-and-coming and full-on buzzy above the 56
  6. Behind the Brands 2019
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Enter San Diego’s Cutest Pet Contest

Your furry family member could win a pet prize package and be featured in San Diego Magazine

Puesto's Next Top Taco

Submit your best taco recipe for the chance to win a grand prize
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Enter San Diego’s Cutest Pet Contest

Your furry family member could win a pet prize package and be featured in San Diego Magazine

The SKY Facial Plastic Surgery Difference

The only person performing injectable treatments at SKY is the head honcho himself, Sirius K. Yoo, M.D.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags