Who Coined the Term Silicon Valley?

At a superb IEEE CPMT lecture by Paul Wesling on the Origins of Silicon Valley, computer historian Roy Mize insisted that the term "Silicon Valley" was not coined by either Ralph Vaerst or Don Hoeffler, whom generally get the credit.  Roy insists that the term was in popular use before 1971, but can not identify a single individual that made it up.
I first came to Santa Clara in March 1970 (worked at Fairchild Systems Technology in Sunnyvale).  At that time, this area was referred to as Santa Clara Valley- the orchard capital of the U.S.  I don't remember people referring to this place as Silicon Valley until many years later.  Note that IEEE still refers to this area as Santa Clara Valley (SCV) chapter.
Here is what Roy wrote in his whitepaper on this topic
Who Really Coined the Term Silicon Valley? 

All sources agree that Don Hoefler was the first to use the term Silicon Valley in any publication.  However, the confusion about who should get credit for coining the term is less clear.  Many sources attribute the coinage to Hoefler.  Others say that Hoefler heard the term being used in industry circles, apparently coming from government R&D people who often called the area “Silicon Gulch” or “Silicon Valley” when they visited the many companies doing defense work in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. 

Other sources state that a Hoefler friend, Ralph Vaerst, heard the term and suggested its use.3   Some sources say that Vaerst coined the term, and then suggested its use.  In 1970 Vaerst was president of Ion Technology, a company he had recently founded.  He was one of the first employees of Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) and was established in the electronics community.  Vaerst was well placed to have heard the term Silicon Valley. 

The confusion between Ralph Vaerst and Don Hoefler seems to spring from Hoefler himself.  In the early 1970s, Hoefler told his friend John Joss, author and writer, that he (Hoefler) had coined the term.  Joss had known Hoefler since the early 1960s, meeting him shortly after he arrived in Northern California.    

Leigh Weimers, retired San Jose Mercury News columnist, remembers contacting Hoefler in 1971 and asking how he came up with the name.  Hoefler said that silicon seemed to fit what was happening in Santa Clara Valley, so he combined the two words.  “Silicon Valley” was descriptive and easy to use in his new microelectronics column.  

Another San Jose Mercury News article in 1981 quoted Hoefler as saying that his friend Ralph Vaerst had coined the term. . In 1984 he told the Associated Press “he had first heard the phrase about the revolutionary semiconductors made from silicon, the second most-abundant chemical element after oxygen on the Earth, while on the East Coast.” 

Perhaps the most definitive reference comes from an October 1982 National Geographic article by journalist and author, Moira Johnston.  She notes that “the term Silicon Valley was insiders slang until 1971 when Don Hoefler popularized it in a trade journal.”  Her remarks were accompanied by a photo of Hoefler working at his desk. 

Several other interviews; including a 1984 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, and one with author Michael S. Malone, Hoefler said either that Vaerst had heard the term and suggested its use for the Electronics News articles, or that he (Hoefler) had coined the term, or that he (Hoefler) had heard the term and decided to use it.  

Two knowledgeable people share the scenario; that Vaerst or Hoefler may have heard the term before it was used in print.  In 1985 Mr. Malone interviewed Hoefler for background on his 1985 book, The Big Score: The Billion Dollar Story of Silicon Valley.   Ms. Marion Lewenstein, a journalist who knew Hoefler during his time at Electronic News, shares Malone’s opinion.  Although Ms. Lewenstein had worked for Fairchild Publications and left Electronics News shortly before Hoefler began his West Coast employment there, she knew him both before and after he started his own newsletter. 

A review of contemporary news, and the remembrances of persons working in the industry and in research and development activities in the 1960s, show that the term was in limited general use years before Hoefler introduced it in his seminal 1971 articles.   

Mr. Regis Mckenna, a noted advertising guru, remembered first hearing the term in mid 1965.   

Other survey respondents remembered first hearing the term sometime in the 1967 timeframe.  Unless Hoefler frequented government R&D circles on both the East and West coasts during those time frames, it is highly unlikely that he coined it and spread its use.  It is far more probable that he may have heard the term in industry visits or from his friend Ralph Vaerst. 

While the confusion between HoeflerVaerst, or someone unknown may be understandable, it is pointless – No one really knows who coined the tem “Silicon Valley.  Someone, probably in one of the East coast communications companies, or in the Washington, D.C. area defense research funding agencies, made a comment that was quickly adopted within the narrow world of communications R&D on the East and West Coasts in the 1960s.  From that limited start, and with Hoefler’s help, the term became ubiquitous.  “Silicon Valley” was on its way to posterity.