Books on the history of the silicon valley

Books on the men and the women who made Silicon Valley
historical-non-fiction history geeking-on-history understanding-world silicon-valley
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Make It New: A History of Silicon Valley Design (MIT Press)

by Barry M. Katz

About the book:  California's Silicon Valley is home to the greatest concentration of designers in the world: corporate design offices at flagship technology companies and volunteers at nonprofit NGOs; global design consultancies and boutique studios; research laboratories and academic design programs. Together they form the interconnected network that is Silicon Valley. Apple products are famously "Designed in California," but, as Barry Katz shows in this first-ever, extensively illustrated history, the role of design in Silicon Valley began decades before Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak dreamed up Apple in a garage. Offering a thoroughly original view of the subject, Katz tells how design helped transform Silicon Valley into the most powerful engine of innovation in the world. From Hewlett-Packard and Ampex in the 1950s to Google and Facebook today, design has provided the bridge between research and development, art and engineering, technical performance and human behavior. Katz traces the origins of all of the leading consultancies -- including IDEO, frog, and Lunar -- and shows the process by which some of the world's most influential companies came to place design at the center of their business strategies. At the same time, universities, foundations, and even governments have learned to apply "design thinking" to their missions. Drawing on unprecedented access to a vast array of primary sources and interviews with nearly every influential design leader -- including Douglas Engelbart, Steve Jobs, and Don Norman -- Katz reveals design to be the missing link in Silicon Valley's ecosystem of innovation.


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Swimming Across: A Memoir

by Andrew S. Grove

About the book:  Set in the cruel years of Hungary's Nazi occupation and subsequent Communist regime, SWIMMING ACROSS is the stunning childhood memoir of one of the leading thinkers of our time, the legendary Intel chairman. The story of Andris Grof-later to become Andy Grove-begins in the 1930s, on the banks of the Danube. Here, in Budapest, young Andris lives a middle-class existence with his secular Jewish parents. But he and his family will be faced with a host of staggering obstacles. After Andris nearly loses his life to scarlet fever at the age of four, his family is forced to deal with the Nazi occupation of Hungary. Fleeing the Germans, Andris and his mother find refuge with a Christian family in the outskirts of Budapest and then hide in cellars from Russian bombs. After the nightmare of war ends, the family rebuilds its business and its life, only to face a new trial with a succession of repressive Communist governments. In June 1956, the popular Hungarian uprising is put down at gunpoint. Soviet troops occupy Budapest and randomly round up young people. Two hundred thousand Hungarians follow a tortuous route to escape to the West. Among them is the author... Combining a child's sense of wonder with an engineer's passion for detail, Grove re-creates a Europe that has since disappeared. From the Nazis' youthful victims innocently exulting in a "put the Jews in the ghetto" game...to a May Day march through Budapest under the blaring strains of prerecorded cheers...to the almost surreal scenes of young escapees securing the help of a hunchbacked peasant and his fantastically beautiful, colorfully costumed wife, he paints a vivid and suspenseful, personal and cultural portrait. Within these pages, an authentic American hero reveals his origins in a very different place during a very different time. He explores the ways in which persecution and struggle, as well as kinship and courage, shaped his life. It is a story of survival-and triumph.


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Revolution in The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made

by Andy Hertzfeld

About the book:  There was a time, not too long ago, when the typewriter and notebook ruled, and the computer as an everyday tool was simply a vision. Revolution in the Valley traces this vision back to its earliest roots: the hallways and backrooms of Apple, where the groundbreaking Macintosh computer was born. The book traces the development of the Macintosh, from its inception as an underground skunkworks project in 1979 to its triumphant introduction in 1984 and beyond.The stories in Revolution in the Valley come on extremely good authority. That's because author Andy Hertzfeld was a core member of the team that built the Macintosh system software, and a key creator of the Mac's radically new user interface software. One of the chosen few who worked with the mercurial Steve Jobs, you might call him the ultimate insider.When Revolution in the Valley begins, Hertzfeld is working on Apple's first attempt at a low-cost, consumer-oriented computer: the Apple II. He sees that Steve Jobs is luring some of the company's most brilliant innovators to work on a tiny research effort the Macintosh. Hertzfeld manages to make his way onto the Macintosh research team, and the rest is history.Through lavish illustrations, period photos, and Hertzfeld's vivid first-hand accounts, Revolution in the Valley reveals what it was like to be there at the birth of the personal computer revolution. The story comes to life through the book's portrait of the talented and often eccentric characters who made up the Macintosh team. Now, over 20 years later, millions of people are benefiting from the technical achievements of this determined and brilliant group of people.


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From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism

by Fred Turner

About the book:  In the early 1960s, computers haunted the American popular imagination. Bleak tools of the cold war, they embodied the rigid organization and mechanical conformity that made the military-industrial complex possible. But by the 1990s—and the dawn of the Internet—computers started to represent a very different kind of world: a collaborative and digital utopia modeled on the communal ideals of the hippies who so vehemently rebelled against the cold war establishment in the first place. From Counterculture to Cyberculture is the first book to explore this extraordinary and ironic transformation. Fred Turner here traces the previously untold story of a highly influential group of San Francisco Bay–area entrepreneurs: Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth network. Between 1968 and 1998, via such familiar venues as the National Book Award–winning Whole Earth Catalog, the computer conferencing system known as WELL, and, ultimately, the launch of the wildly successful Wired magazine, Brand and his colleagues brokered a long-running collaboration between San Francisco flower power and the emerging technological hub of Silicon Valley. Thanks to their vision, counterculturalists and technologists alike joined together to reimagine computers as tools for personal liberation, the building of virtual and decidedly alternative communities, and the exploration of bold new social frontiers. Shedding new light on how our networked culture came to be, this fascinating book reminds us that the distance between the Grateful Dead and Google, between Ken Kesey and the computer itself, is not as great as we might think.


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Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech (Synthesis)

by Sally Smith Hughes

About the book:  In the fall of 1980, Genentech, Inc., a little-known California genetic engineering company, became the overnight darling of Wall Street, raising over $38 million in its initial public stock offering. Lacking marketed products or substantial profit, the firm nonetheless saw its share price escalate from $35 to $89 in the first few minutes of trading, at that point the largest gain in stock market history. Coming at a time of economic recession and declining technological competitiveness in the United States, the event provoked banner headlines and ignited a period of speculative frenzy over biotechnology as a revolutionary means for creating new and better kinds of pharmaceuticals, untold profit, and a possible solution to national economic malaise. Drawing from an unparalleled collection of interviews with early biotech players, Sally Smith Hughes offers the first book-length history of this pioneering company, depicting Genentech’s improbable creation, precarious youth, and ascent to immense prosperity. Hughes provides intimate portraits of the people significant to Genentech’s science and business, including cofounders Herbert Boyer and Robert Swanson, and in doing so sheds new light on how personality affects the growth of science. By placing Genentech’s founders, followers, opponents, victims, and beneficiaries in context, Hughes also demonstrates how science interacts with commercial and legal interests and university research, and with government regulation, venture capital, and commercial profits. Integrating the scientific, the corporate, the contextual, and the personal, Genentech tells the story of biotechnology as it is not often told, as a risky and improbable entrepreneurial venture that had to overcome a number of powerful forces working against it.


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The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

by Jon Gertner

About the book:  From its beginnings in the 1920s until its demise in the 1980s, Bell Labs-officially, the research and development wing of AT&T-was the biggest, and arguably the best, laboratory for new ideas in the world. From the transistor to the laser, from digital communications to cellular telephony, it's hard to find an aspect of modern life that hasn't been touched by Bell Labs. In The Idea Factory, Jon Gertner traces the origins of some of the twentieth century's most important inventions and delivers a riveting and heretofore untold chapter of American history. At its heart this is a story about the life and work of a small group of brilliant and eccentric men-Mervin Kelly, Bill Shockley, Claude Shannon, John Pierce, and Bill Baker-who spent their careers at Bell Labs. Today, when the drive to invent has become a mantra, Bell Labs offers us a way to enrich our understanding of the challenges and solutions to technological innovation. Here, after all, was where the foundational ideas on the management of innovation were born.


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Infinite Loop

by Pierrick Colinet

About the book:  The inside story of how one of America's most beloved companies--Apple Computer--took off like a high-tech rocket--only to come crashing to Earth twenty years later.No company in modern times has been as successful at capturing the public's imagination as Apple Computer. From its humble beginnings in a suburban garage, Apple sparked the personal computer revolution, and its products and founders--Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak--quickly became part of the American myth.But something happened to Apple as it stumbled toward a premature middle age. For ten years, it lived off its past glory and its extraordinary products. Then, almost overnight, it collapsed in a two-year free fall.How did Apple lose its way? Why did the world still care so deeply about a company that had lost its leadership position? Michael S. Malone, from the unique vantage point of having grown up with the company's founders, and having covered Apple and Silicon Valley for years, sets out to tell the gripping behind-the-scenes story--a story that is even zanier than the business world thought. In essence, Malone claims, with only a couple of incredible inventions (the Apple II and Macintosh), and backed by an arrogance matched only by its corporate ineptitude, Apple managed to create a multibillion-dollar house of cards. And, like a faulty program repeating itself in an infinite loop, Apple could never learn from its mistakes. The miracle was not that Apple went into free fall, but that it held up for so long.Within the pages of Infinite Loop, we discover a bruising portrait of the megalomaniacal Steve Jobs and an incompetent John Sculley, as well as the kind of political backstabbings, stupid mistakes, and overweening egos more typical of a soap opera than a corporate history. Infinite Loop is almost as wild and unpredictable, as exhilarating and gut-wrenching, as the story of Apple itself.


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Bill & Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Built the World's Greatest Company

by Michael S. Malone

About the book:  The definitive history of Hewlett-Packard and its legendary founders, based on unprecedented access to private archives This is the most authoritative version ever of the most famous start-up story in business history. In 1938, working out of a small garage in Palo Alto, California, two young Stanford graduates named Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard built their first product, an audio oscillator. It was the start not only of a legendary company but of an entire way of life in Silicon Valley—and, ultimately, our modern digital age. Others have written about the rise of Hewlett-Packard, including Packard himself in a bestselling memoir. But acclaimed journalist Michael S. Malone is the first to get the full story, based on unlimited and exclusive access to corporate and private archives, along with hundreds of employee interviews. Malone draws on his new material to show how some of the most influential products of our time were invented, and how a culture of innovation led HP to unparalleled success for decades. He also shows what was really behind the groundbreaking management philosophy—"the HP Way"—that put people ahead of products or profits. There have been attempts in recent years to discredit the HP Way as soft and outdated. But Malone argues that the HP Way was a hard-nosed business philosophy that combined simple objectives, trust in employees to make the right choices, and ruthless self-appraisal. It created an innovative and ferociously competitive company—arguably the world’s greatest company. This business adventure story will be perfect for entrepreneurs, young managers, and students, not to mention the tens of thousands of current and former HP employees.


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Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley, Creator of the Electronic Age (Macmillan Science)

by J. Shurkin

About the book:  This is the first biography of William Shockley, founding father of Silicon Valley - one of the most significant and reviled scientists of the 20th century. Drawing upon unique access to the private Shockley archives, veteran technology historian and journalist Joel Shurkin gives an unflinching account of how such promise ended in such ignominy.


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Valley Boy: The Education of Tom Perkins

by Tom Perkins

About the book:  The national bestseller now in paperback: the revealing personal memoir from Tom Perkins?renowned venture capitalist, Silicon Valley and biotechnology pioneer, and one of America?s most successful businessmen. Known for his idiosyncratic ideas and golden touch, Tom Perkins has always been one of the business world?s most intriguing figures. In this insightful memoir, Perkins recalls many fascinating episodes of his life, both personal and professional, including his involvement in the creation of American industries no one could have dreamed of not long ago.


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