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.