I heard recently from a friend of Critical Link, who sent me a link to a Google Tech Talk video from the way back: 2008.
To me, Steve Blank’s The Secret History of Silicon Valley is really not so much a secret history as it is a forgotten history. Especially for those of us who think that Silicon Valley began with Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. Or with Steve Jobs. Or Marc Andreasson. Or Sergey Brin.
The preso spends a lot of time on the importance of the R&D done to win World War II as foundational to the emergence of Silicon Valley. An interesting part dealt with how Stanford became an electronics powerhouse. It started when Stanford Professor Fred Termin was called to work at a top secrete radar research lab at Harvard. After the war, he was determined to build Stanford into a center of excellence for electronics. So he went ahead and did it.
I guess you could say that Stanford was already on its way – two of Fermin’s pre-war students were Hewlett and Packard. But it was Fermin’s during the war that really helped make Stanford the engineering powerhouse it became.
Stanford’s engineering excellence has played an outsized role in Silicon Valley, and it’s interesting to see the ties to the research that enabled our bombers to find their targets, even in cloudy weather!
So, if you have an hour of time to listen to Steve Blank’s interesting presentation, I highly recommend it.