Stanford Innovation & Inventions

Technology Licensing

In 2017-18 Stanford received $40.96 million in gross royalty revenue from 813 technologies. Fifty-three of the inventions generated $100,000 or more in royalties. Seven inventions generated $1 million or more. In 2017–18, the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) concluded 150 new licenses.

Among the Inventions Licensed by OTL:

  • Antibody therapies: In the 1980s, Leonard Herzenberg, Vernon Oi and Sherie Morrison invented a technique for producing functional antibodies, enabling treatments for such conditions as autoimmune diseases and cancer.
  • Bioplastics: Researchers in Craig Criddle’s laboratory have developed a method of producing bioplastics from municipal, agricultural and food waste materials.
  • Data analytics: Visutalization software created in 2001 in the laboratory of Patrick Hanrahan helps anyone working with large amounts of data to quickly analyze, visualize and share information.
  • Digital music: John Chowning developed FM sound synthesis for digitally generating sounds in the late 1960s, leading to the music synthesizer.
  • Disease management: The Stanford Patient Education Research Center creates programs for chronic health problems, including arthritis and HIV/AIDS, that have been licensed to more than 500 organizations in 17 countries.
  • DSL: In the 1980s, John Cioffi and his students discovered how to use traditional phone lines for high-speed data transmission, resulting in patents used in asymmetric digital subscriber lines.
  • Google: The world’s most popular search engine got its start at Stanford in 1996 when Sergey Brin and Larry Page developed the page-rank algorithm while computer science graduate students.
  • Optical fiber amplifier: This invention by John Shaw and Michel J.F. Digonnet enabled the bandwidth explosion in optical communications and telecommunications essential to the Internet.
  • Recombinant DNA: This ubiquitous tool for molecular biology was developed in 1973 by Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer to enable scientists to perform genetic engineering by combining pieces of DNA from different organisms, laying the groundwork for the biotechnology industry.
  • Refocus photography: Ren Ng, Patrick Hanrahan, Marc Levoy and Mark Horowitz invented a camera that captures an entire light field with an array of thousands of sensors. Photographers can use this camera to take interactive pictures that can be refocused after the fact.
  • Tuberculosis test: Gary Schoolnik and colleagues developed a diagnostic test for tuberculosis that can distinguish between patients who have been vaccinated and those who actually have the disease.

Notable dates in computing:

1953 High-speed electronic calculator installed on campus
1956 First computer installed
1957 First faculty member specializing in computers hired
1965 Computer Science Department founded
1968 Computer mouse, hypertext linking debuted at Stanford
1987 First residential computing program established at Stanford
1988 Stanford’s network is one of the first to connect to the Internet
1991 SLAC creates the first U.S. website
2005 Stanford is the first university to launch a public site on iTunes U
2013 Stanford engineers build computer using carbon nanotubes


Stanford alumni and faculty have created more than 39,900 companies since the 1930s. Frederick Terman, provost from 1955 to 1965, is called the “academic architect” of the high-technology region known as Silicon Valley.

Among the companies Stanford faculty and alumni have helped create:

  • Atheros Communications
  • Charles Schwab & Company
  • Cisco Systems
  • Cypress Semiconductor
  • Dolby Laboratories
  • eBay
  • E*Trade
  • Electronic Arts
  • Gap
  • Goodreads
  • Google
  • Hewlett-Packard Company
  • IDEO
  • Instagram
  • Intuit
  • Intuitive Surgical
  • Kiva
  • LinkedIn
  • Logitech
  • MIPS Technologies
  • Netflix
  • Nike
  • Odwalla
  • One Kings Lane
  • Orbitz
  • Rambus
  • Silicon Graphics
  • StubHub
  • Sun Microsystems
  • SunPower Corp.
  • Taiwan Semiconductor
  • Tesla Motors
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Varian
  • VMware
  • Whole Earth Catalog
  • Yahoo!
  • Zillow

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