Route 128 - Massachusetts (USA)
The growth of electronic-related companies along the Massachusetts Route 128 highway surrounding Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, flourished between the 1960s and 1980s. Many of the companies that made the corridor a high tech hub were start-ups and small operations that help revolutionize computer technology. Development was and continues to be supported by leading universities and government agencies in the region, including the Harvard University, MIT, the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. The Route 128 Technology Corridor has been a traditional base for computer technology and electronics, but in recent years it has seen significant group in biotech research and development.
About the Route 128 Technology Corridor
The Route 128 high tech cluster emerged between the 1960s to the 1980s and is based in several suburbs along the route. The corridor is also referred to as America's Technology Highway, reaching its peak in the 1980s. It was first recognized as a centre for high tech industry in 1955. In that year, Business Week published an article referring to Route 128 as the Magic Semicircle. In 1958, business growth led to the widening of the highway from six lanes to eight.
Growth of the high tech corridor was primarily driven by technology research and development at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1957, 99 technology companies employed 17,000 people along the Route 128 Technology Corridor. By 1973, the number of businesses had grown to 1,212. In the 1980s, the corridor was often compared to Silicon Valley, the world-famous tech cluster in California. Growth concentrated along Route 128 led to greater economic development in the state. The so-called Massachusetts Miracle saw unemployment fall from 12 percent to 3 percent during the 1980s, largely because of high tech industry and financial services concentrated in Boston and in suburbs along Route 128.
Massachusetts Route 128 runs from Gloucester in the state's east to the I-95 and I-93 junction south of Boston. Most of the highway runs concurrent with I-95 and forms part of the U.S. Interstate system. I-95 runs from Maine to Florida and is one of the East Coast's major highways. Route 128 is situated close to Boston, serving as a partial beltway around the city and forming a semi-circle around the Greater Boston area. It also serves as the name for the cluster of high tech industry based along the highway's corridor.
In addition to I-95, the Route 128 corridor is served by Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line and rail services. Communities along the corridor are also served by commuter rail services operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Route 128 Station is situated in Westwood, an affluent community in the Greater Boston region. In addition to Westwood, communities along the Route 128 corridor include Woburn, Burlington, Lexington, Waltham, Weston, Newton, Wellesley and Needham. The corridor is approximately 20 to 30 minutes from Boston Logan International Airport, one of the country's major gateways to the world.
In addition to small ventures, several major companies call the Route 128 corridor home. These include world-leading technology companies, such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Polaroid, EMC Corporation, Autodesk and Raytheon. Raytheon's subsidiary BBN Technologies, precision laboratory equipment company Thermo Fisher Scientific, Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) and computer game developer Turbine Inc. also maintain operations in the Route 128 corridor.
Route 128 was once the home of many pioneers in high tech research and development. Digital Equipment Corporation was based in the corridor until components of the computer technology company was acquired by Compaq and Hewlett-Packard. Now defunct companies that contributed to the peak growth in the corridor during the 1980s included Prime Computer and Data General, which were early leaders in developing minicomputers. Computervision, computer company Wang Laboratories, Apollo Computer, GTE and software company BEA Systems also based operations in the Route 128 corridor.
In recent years, biotech and medical technology has been behind significant growth along Route 128. Major players include Shire PLC, which is headquartered in Lexington. Shire PLC is based at Genzyme Corp.'s Framingham Technology Park. Shire alone employs over 1000 people in the corridor and invested $665 million in their headquarters and main research complex. Life sciences firms occupy approximately 3.5 million square feet of research and development space at Framingham, with hundreds of thousands of additional space across the corridor. In addition to Lexington biotech companies and laboratories have also established themselves in communities between Woburn and Beverly, including Genzyme Corp. and AstraZeneca.