Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom)

Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom)

by Adam Fisher


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"This is the most important book on Silicon Valley I've read in two decades. It will take us all back to our roots in the counterculture, and will remind us of the true nature of the innovation process, before we tried to tame it with slogans and buzzwords." — Po Bronson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nudist on the Late Shift and Nurtureshock
A candid, colorful, and comprehensive oral history that reveals the secrets of Silicon Valley — from the origins of Apple and Atari to the present day clashes of Google and Facebook, and all the start-ups and disruptions that happened along the way.
Rarely has one economy asserted itself as swiftly—and as aggressively—as the entity we now know as Silicon Valley. Built with a seemingly permanent culture of reinvention, Silicon Valley does not fight change; it embraces it, and now powers the American economy and global innovation.

So how did this omnipotent and ever-morphing place come to be? It was not by planning. It was, like many an empire before it, part luck, part timing, and part ambition. And part pure, unbridled genius...

Drawing on over two hundred in-depth interviews, Valley of Genius takes readers from the dawn of the personal computer and the internet, through the heyday of the web, up to the very moment when our current technological reality was invented. It interweaves accounts of invention and betrayal, overnight success and underground exploits, to tell the story of Silicon Valley like it has never been told before. Read it to discover the stories that Valley insiders tell each other: the tall tales that are all, improbably, true.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455559022
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 378,044
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Adam Fisher grew up in Silicon Valley playing Atari, programming computers, and reading science fiction. He now lives on an island in the San Francisco Bay and writes overlooking the water for Wired, MIT Technology Review, and The New York Times Magazine. This is his first book.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Silicon Valley, Explained: The story of the past, as told by the people of the future 1

Book 1 Among the Computer Bums

The Big Bang: Everything starts with Doug Engelbart 17

Ready Player One: The first T-shirt tycoon 27

The Time Machine: Inventing the future at Xerox PARC 43

Breakout: Jobs and Woz change the game 56

Towel Designers: Atari's high-strung prima donnas 74

PARC Opens the Kimono: Good artists copy, great artists steal 85

3P1C F41L: It's game over for Atari 94

Hello, I'm Macintosh: It sure is great to get out of that bag 104

Fumbling the Future: Who blew it: Xerox PARC-or Steve Jobs? 118

Book 2 The Hacker Ethic

What Information Wants: Heroes of the computer revolution 129

The Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link: Welcome to the restaurant at the end of the universe 139

Reality Check: The new new thing-that wasn't 150

From Insanely Great to Greatly Insane: General Magic mentors a generation 162

The Bengali Typhoon: Wired's revolution of the month 179

Toy Stories: From PARC to Pixar 193

Jerry Garcia's Last Words: Netscape opened at what?! 205

A Fish, a Barrel, and a Gun: Suck perfects the art of snark 221

Culture Hacking: The cyberunderground goes mainstream 235

Book 3 Network Effects

The Check Is in the Mail: eBay's trillion-dollar garage sale 251

The Shape of the Internet: A problem of great googolplexity 268

Free as in Beer: Two teenagers crash the music industry 283

The Dot Bomb: Only the cockroaches survive… and you're one of the cockroaches 305

The Return of the King: iCame, iSaw, iConquered 320

I'm Feeling Lucky: Google cracks the code 337

I'm CEO…Bitch: Zuck moves to Silicon Valley to "dominate" (and does) 349

Purple People Eater: Apple, the company that cannibalizes itself 371

Twttr: Nose-ring-wearing, tattooed, neck-bearded, long-haired punk hippie misfits 387

To Infinity…and Beyond!: Steve Jobs in memoriam 402


The Endless Frontier: The future history of Silicon Valley 421

Cast of Characters 433

Acknowledgments 461

Note on Sources 463

Index 471

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