Say the words “revolution” and “Northern California” in the same sentence, and you wouldn’t be blamed for conjuring images of Beat Generation poets or Berkeley hippies. But the revolution discussed on “Silicon Valley” (8 p.m., PBS), an “American Experience” presentation, was hatched by guys with skinny ties, slide rules and multiple doctorates in chemistry and physics. And it proved to be much more permanent and profound.
‘‘Valley” follows a group of scientists known as the “Traitorous Eight.” They had followed the brilliant William Shockley to California’s rural orchard country to work on semiconductors. But after receiving a Nobel Prize for his contributions to the creation of the transistor, Shockley became a mercurial taskmaster who treated his employees like children. Taking a great financial risk, the eight men formed their own company, Fairchild Semiconductor, whose integrated circuit was at the heart of both the space race of the ‘60s and the personal computer innovations of the last 30 years.
Arguably, their greatest act of rebellion was their first. These men quit their jobs and founded their own company. In doing this, these men, led by the charismatic scientist and salesman Robert Noyce, helped create a freewheeling Northern California corporate culture that changed America. Many people like to think of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak building the first Apple in their garage as the Big Bang of the computer revolution. But that came a full two decades after the buttoned-down Traitorous Eight declared, “Take this job and shove it.”
Tonight’s other highlights:
• Candles and cake on “Betty White’s 2nd Annual 90th Birthday Special” (7 p.m., NBC).
• Two go home on “The Taste” (7 p.m., ABC).
• More light is cast on the twins’ birth mother on “The Lying Game” (8 p.m., ABC Family).
• Cupid’s arrow is crooked on “The Mindy Project” (8:30 p.m., Fox).
• Mia must be handled delicately on “Vegas” (9 p.m., CBS).
• Raylan’s search for Drew leads him to dangerous country on “Justified” (9 p.m., FX).