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Leslie Berlin, Troublemakers: Silicon Valley's Coming of Age

  • William A. Sahlman

Leslie Berlin's book Troublemakers is an engaging and insightful people-first exploration of the roots of Silicon Valley, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Berlin portrays seven individuals who played important roles at critical junctures in the development of technologies we now take for granted: the Internet; personal, connected computing and communications devices; genetic engineering; software as a service (SAAS); streaming video; massively multiplayer online games; and democratized access to the world's information. They helped lay the foundation for the economic powerhouse called Silicon Valley.

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1 As I will explore later, some companies, such as Intel and Hewlett Packard, did participate successfully in the newer businesses, which may explain some of the enduring strength of the region. Obviously, IBM also launched its personal-computer business (based in Boca Raton, Florida) and did well for many years before the product effectively became a commodity. In biotechnology, companies like Hoffmann-La Roche (minority stake in Genentech) and Eli Lilly (Hybritech) acquired pioneering biotech companies and participated in that way.

2 When Zuckerberg returned to Harvard in 2017 to deliver the commencement speech at graduation, he visited the Harvard i-Lab, a center launched in 2011 to promote entrepreneurial activities across Harvard. Zuckerberg commented that he might not have left Boston had the i-Lab been in place. Perhaps that would have dramatically changed the trajectory of Boston in social networking and other new opportunity spaces.

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Business History Review
  • ISSN: 0007-6805
  • EISSN: 2044-768X
  • URL: /core/journals/business-history-review
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