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The Hidden History of How the Government Kick-Started Silicon Valley

July 09, 2019

Below goes a copy-paste from some Medium article to test the layout on the site here.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

OneZero: Figures like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are considered practically superhuman for their impact on the tech landscape. But your book lays out how government investment has been instrumental in driving tech innovation. So why do these founder myths persist?

The government often becomes a catalyst in ways that are perhaps not consciously intended. And that is part of the magic. Dwight Eisenhower never declared, “I shall build a science city in Northern California.” Yet the military spending and space program spending that started under Eisenhower was the launching pad for Silicon Valley’s rocket.

How did federal contracts create those building blocks? How is Fairchild Semiconductor, an early, transformative Silicon Valley company that built semiconductors and circuits, an example of the collaboration between government and industry?

Why did the Santa Clara Valley become come the country’s tech hub, rather than Boston, where you have Harvard, MIT, and a plethora of researchers? What was special about California — and, specifically, this area?

Just testing a bullet list here:

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Tra-ta-ta
  • Tru-tu-tu
  • Items..

The “Big Five” — Apple, Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft — have a combined valuation of over $3 trillion. As a historian, what do you think of the size and scale of these companies? And what is the role of government in regulating them?

And let's insert an image:

The industry made a convincing argument that they would self-regulate free speech.