The period between the heyday of Ampex and the first presidential term of Ronald Reagan lies at the heart of Troublemakers, a fetching portrait of the less chronicled years of Silicon Valley ... Via sensitively wrought portraits of Alcorn and five others — who, for the most part, are unfamiliar figures except to longtime Silicon Valley habitués — Ms. Berlin tells the tale of how an area once known for companies...gave rise during the 1970s to Apple, Genentech, and their many siblings and progeny ... Ms. Berlin’s accounts of Ms. Kurtzig and Mike Markkula, the first chairman of Apple, reinforce some elemental truths about the sleep-deprived intensity, emotion, stress and operatics that attend the formation of any company — especially in Silicon Valley.
Troublemakers takes as its frame a sped-up high-tech version of early Medici-era Florence, 'thirty-five miles and seven years' into which were telescoped many of the greatest hits of the information economy ...offers a corrective to the regnant great man theory of technological progress of which the virtuosic Mr. Jobs is exhibit A. In narrating these innovations, Berlin shows the village that brought them forth ... It’s easy, with hindsight, to deride, but Berlin, project historian for Stanford’s Silicon Valley Archives, brings out the sociocultural forces that hobbled the Alto... For all his prickly iconoclasm, Jobs had a reverence for Silicon Valley’s history and lore, Berlin observes. Troublemakers shows the indebtedness of Apple and other 'self-made' success stories to these forces.
...Troublemakers: Silicon Valley’s Coming of Age opens with the advertising copy from the iconic 1997 Apple commercial that perfectly captures Silicon Valley’s conception of itself ...covers 'the generational handoff' that happened between the late 1960s and the early ’80s 'as pioneers of the semiconductor industry passed the baton to younger up-and-comers' ...a more benign view of the technology industry to appreciate Ms. Berlin’s deeply researched and dramatic narrative of Silicon Valley’s early years...meticulously told stories permit the reader to gain a nuanced understanding of the emergence of the broader technology ecosystem that has enabled Silicon Valley to thrive ...does not whitewash the aspects of even the valley’s early years that foreshadow the more profound cultural issues to emerge in the industry’s middle age.
In Troublemakers: Silicon Valley’s Coming of Age, Leslie Berlin, the project historian for the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford University, transports us to a Silicon Valley before the arrival of Internet behemoths the likes of Netflix and Salesforce, when giants such as Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel ruled the day ...follows six characters whose stories illustrate the meteoric transformation of Silicon Valley’s founding generation...overarching theme is that current technology is a direct product of the innovations, people, and industries that arose in the latter half of last century ...Berlin rightfully illustrates the nationwide alarm that resulted from the advent of a process that gave people editing power over human life ...Berlin is a historian, not an editorialist, and her charge is to deliver the narrative, a task that she does with great style and storytelling skill ...relies on a trove of unpublished primary sources, including interviews, that few would be able to synthesize so deftly. It is not too difficult to envision a sequel of sorts.
...as much as these professional entrapments might seem like dotcom-era phenomena, the practice of sweetening the deal for tech employees dates back to the ’70s as a way to ward off labor unions ...That insight is just one of many in Berlin’s new book, Troublemakers. While piecing together a timeline of the Valley’s early history — picture end-to-end sheets of paper covered in black dots — Berlin was amazed to discover a period of rapid-fire innovation between 1969 and 1976... Contrary to assumptions that Silicon Valley has always been hostile to women, Berlin points to a highly publicized push in the late ’60s to make tech more inclusive.
Berlin's book looks at pioneers like Markkula and others from the earliest days of Silicon Valley, as she shows how they laid the groundwork back in the 1970s and 1980s for the tech boom of today … The point of Berlin's book [is] to take a step back and revisit the earliest days of computing, back when machines engulfed entire rooms at corporations and had less memory than a smartwatch. The early days — and how primitive they were — are an important milestone to document and make for an entertaining read.
Steve Jobs may have received most of the narrative oxygen coming out of Silicon Valley for the last quarter-century or so, with Elon Musk a close successor. However, as New York Times technology columnist Berlin writes in this vigorous account, the first days were the hardest — and, all in all, involved the most interesting players ... A sturdy, skillfully constructed work of business and technological history.
Stanford University archivist Berlin focuses on key but largely overlooked figures who helped to fuel the expansion of the tech industry in the 1970s and 1980s in Silicon Valley ... Berlin chronicles these pioneers’ arrivals in northern California and their accomplishments over the years, identifying two common traits in all seven: persistence and audaciousness ... Other sections pale in comparison to Markkula’s story. Berlin reveals another layer in the history of the Silicon Valley.