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Making Silicon Valley

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Making Silicon Valley

Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930 - 1970

MIT Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

How the San Francisco Peninsula’s unique entrepreneurs, tech geeks, inventors and investors turned it into Silicon Valley.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Eye Opening
  • Engaging


In the mid-1970s, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, founders of a Silicon Valley startup named Apple, asked Intel retiree Mike Markkula to invest in their firm. Sensing that it could become a winner, he gave them $92,000 and, in 1977, went to work for the company. Three years later, Apple went public and Markkula made millions. Time and again over the decades, this amazing story has repeated itself on the San Francisco Peninsula now known as Silicon Valley. getAbstract finds that historian Christophe Lécuyer does a capable, intriguing, intricately researched job of taking readers behind the scenes to learn how Silicon Valley first developed, what makes it tick and what its high-tech mastery has accomplished. While some of the technical terms may require a learning curve, this is the place to learn about the center of technology in the U.S. before it came to create and dominate the high-tech industry.


Way Out West

Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were not Silicon Valley’s first technological wizards. Far from it. Going back to the 1920s and before, brilliant engineers, inventors and “innovator-entrepreneurs” were hard at work in the area, pushing the borders of science and technology with groundbreaking discoveries.

At the time, Silicon Valley was known simply as the San Francisco Peninsula, that is, the sprawling area south of San Francisco. Three of the most prominent high-tech pioneers were electronics entrepreneurs William Eitel, Jack McCullough and Charles Litton. These men helped build the San Francisco Peninsula’s power tube industry, the precursor to the microprocessor, chipset and software enterprises that made Silicon Valley famous. Fervent electronics hobbyists, machine-shop operators and ham radio buffs, Eitel, McCullough and Litton were radio technology experts. When they started out in the 1920s, the Peninsula was not a vibrant industrial area. However, it already was home to various electronics companies, including Heintz and Kaufman, well-known, respected radio-manufacturing firms where Eitel and McCullough worked, and Federal Telegraph...

About the Author

Christophe Lécuyer studied history and history of technology at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris, and earned his Ph.D. at Stanford University in Palo Alto.

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