Photos of Silicon Valley in the 1950s and 1960s

Victor at Attention, Sunnyvale California 1959. (David Pace / Schilt Publishing)

In 1959, at the age of eight, David Pace received a gift that would ultimately transform his life. This would set off a journey that would see him become a famous photographer whose work would be showcased at the 2019 Venice Biennale.

Pace’s journey would be a bit tortuous. At first he did not devote himself to photography, but rather followed his father into the business world, handling the wholesale distribution of his family’s material.

But Pace didn’t really go into business and eventually found himself enrolled in a Masters of Fine Arts program, yearning for a more meaningful life path. It was here that he rediscovered the camera he’d gotten decades earlier, and that roundabout loop began to close.

Before his death in 2020, Pace would eventually publish two books with Schilt Publishing in Amsterdam: “Images in Transition: Wirephotos 1938-45” and “Where the Time Goes”. On the first book, Pace collaborated with gallery owner Stephen Wirtz and the second with his wife, Diane Jonte-Pace. Pace and his wife collaborated on a third book, also published by Schilt, titled “Hawkeye”.

The photographs in “Hawkeye” are from when Pace received his first camera as a gift in 1959. The camera was a Kodak Hawkeye, which gives the book its name. The book brings together the first images of Pace, which were mostly made up of friends, families, and school time. The photos lack the veneer of professionalism, but that’s also what makes them so interesting, if not endearing.

Quirky and raw, the photos of “Hawkeye” are a recording of a person finding their true calling. Although it took decades for Pace to find this calling, he instinctively understood its hold on him. Jonte-Pace notes this in an afterword she wrote for the book, saying, “David often commented that he could see a clear trajectory from his early Hawkeye images of family, friends and teachers to the school, to the photographic projects he undertook. in the following years.

Pace’s own words, recalled again by his wife in the last pages of the book, reinforce this instinctive understanding: “I was a very shy child. I realized from this first experience that I could speak through images. I became a photographer that day. Now I feel the same excitement every time I pick up my camera.

While Pace’s photos in “Hawkeye” are a recording of his early artistic endeavors with a camera, there is something additional interesting. Although not known to the young man at the time, he was also compiling a recording of life in Silicon Valley before Apple, LinkedIn, Google and other tech giants took over.

As Ann Jastrab, executive director of the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, Calif., Puts it in the foreword to “Hawkeye”:

“With no conscious intention to document cultural change, the young photographer recorded the decline of an agricultural economy and the expansion of a new post-war economy of consumption and trade, with housing estates replacing orchards of cherry trees, and warehouses and car dealerships replacing walnut trees. With the Hawkeye, he documented new buildings, vendor meetings, hardware shows and open houses where his father proudly displayed new products like Marvalon and young women rollerbladed on wood covered in Varathane to demonstrate the durability of new plastic floor treatments. He photographed his grandparents standing proudly in front of his father’s new truck, and his sister, mother and grandfather in front of the Christmas tree and the TV.

You can read more about “Hawkeye” here. And you can see more of Pace’s work here.

Sisters at St. Martin’s, Sunnyvale California 1959. (David Pace / Schilt Publishing)

Uncle Al’s New Car, Sunnyvale California 1961. (David Pace / Schilt Publishing)

New Varathane plastic finish, Sunnyvale CA 1960. (David Pace / Schilt Publishing)

Victor, Jeff, Jimmy, Manuel and Friends, Sunnyvale California 1959. (David Pace / Schilt Publishing)

Bro. Smith with Manuel and Johnny, Sunnyvale California 1960. (David Pace / Schilt Publishing)

Paula at St. Martin’s School, Sunnyvale CA 1959. (David Pace / Schilt Publishing)

Pace Distributors at the Hardware Show, San Jose California, 1960 (David Pace / Schilt Publishing)

Dorene’s Birthday, Sunnyvale California 1960. (David Pace / Schilt Publishing)

The cover of “Hawkeye”, by David Pace and Diane Jonte-Pace. (Schilt editions)

In Sight is the Washington Post’s photography blog for visual storytelling. This platform presents fascinating and diverse images from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you would like to submit a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

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