“The idea to do something different, that’s the magic of Silicon Valley,” quips one of the engineers who helped turn a quiet pastoral landscape southeast of San Francisco into the birthplace of the technological age. That transformation from a land of orchards into a scientific community that bore an entirely different kind of fruit is the subject of a new episode of PBS’ American Experience series. A dynamic story of scientific innovators, entrepreneurial risk-takers and, above all, American dreamers, Silicon Valley debuts on Connecticut Public Television at 9:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 5.
Once known as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” for its endless acres of apricot and other fruit orchards, the Santa Clara Valley began its conversion from farming community to technology park in 1957 when eight very bright but very frustrated engineers and scientists left the nearby Shockley Semiconductor Company to form their own firm: Fairchild Semiconductor. The first half of the film is the story not only of Fairchild but also of the birth of the transistor, the semiconductor and the integrated circuit – the last the brainchild of Intel, a company built by two of Fairchild’s founders.
Fairchild was the “seedpod that scattered new companies all over the valley” explains Michael S. Malone, a journalist and author who has written extensively about the intellectual pioneers who created those companies and the culture in which they continue to flourish. Malone is one of many authors, engineers, scientists, journalists and local residents who make what could have been a dry documentary into an interesting and at times even intriguing look into not just how but why Silicon Valley began.
In examining this birthplace of the Information Age, filmmaker Randall MacLowry manages to capture the spirit of these new pioneers, men who favored “openness over hierarchy, risk over stability and innovation over the tried and true.” Once told by the establishment at Shockley that they were “like children” who “can’t be trusted with your own ideas,” the eight principal characters in this story refused to be limited by the old ways. They risked it all to create a revolution, not just in technology but also in business, for their companies were the first of the “start-ups” that have made the “magic” behind this modern age.
PBS’s American Experience Presents Silicon Valley airs on CPTV and other public television stations starting at 9: 00 p.m. Tuesday, February 5. It will be rebroadcast by CPTV at 2:30 a.m. Sunday, February 10.
Mark G. McLaughlin is a Connecticut-based free lance journalist and game designer with over 30 years of experience as a ghost-writer and columnist. An author, historian and war game designer, Mark continues to be enthralled by stories of those who risk it all to make their dreams come true. To view and pre-order what will be Mark's 16th published design, the American Civil War Naval strategy game Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, visit http://www.gmtgames.com/p-238-rebel-raiders-on-the-high-seas.aspx
Mark’s latest work, the science fiction adventure novel Princess Ryan's Star Marines, is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle e-book formats at http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Ryans-Star-Marines-Save/dp/1466218487/ref...
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