San Diego 92037

10/6/08Follow @bvbigelow

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during World War II, for encouraging San Diego’s city leaders to expand the regional economic base by zoning Torrey Pines Mesa for light industry that included research and development.

In 1955, General Dynamics established a new division in San Diego called General Atomic under the management of Frederic de Hoffman, a veteran of the wartime Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. (Today the privately held company is known for developing the Predator, the unmanned warplane used extensively by U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere.)

The vision that Hopkins and de Hoffman had for Torrey Pines Mesa was soon joined by Roger Revelle, who led the effort that established UCSD in 1960. Revelle had headed what was then U.C. Berkeley’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla.

“They understood that the physical beauty of a place, especially in winter, was a key factor for recruiting world-class scientists,” Walshok says. “In that sense, the ecology worked for us.”

As San Diego’s research institutions expanded, the region’s venture community seemed to acquire a critical mass with the success of Linkabit, a company that specialized in satellite communications, and a biotechnology company called Hybritech.

Linkabit co-founders Irwin Jacobs and Andrew Viterbi left in the years after their venture was acquired in 1980, and started Qualcomm in 1985. That, in turn, prompted the creation of scores of other wireless companies in San Diego.

Hybritech founders Ted Greene and Howard Birndorf, who celebrated their company’s 30th anniversary last month, inspired a host of other successful biotechs in San Diego, including Idec (now part of Biogen Idec), Nanogen, and Amylin Pharmaceuticals.

It also explains—at least in certain circles—why San Diego’s 92037 is a more glamorous zip code than Beverly Hills’ 90210.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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