Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

A Tasty Little Slice of Geek History: PBS’s “Silicon Valley” to Debut Tonight (Video)


Tonight, the latest documentary from PBS’s excellent “American Experience” series — “Silicon Valley” — arrives, and it is a can’t-miss for anyone interested in the origins of the digital industry.

While such an effort could take many more hours to tell, the public television offering largely focuses on the pioneering and seminal tech company Fairchild Semiconductor, its founder, Robert Noyce, and the invention of the sector’s most important innovation — the microprocessor.

Along the way, you get the expected shots of pre-tech Silicon Valley — all orchards and empty space — starting in 1957, when Noyce and a group of ur-geeks left their jobs to found Fairchild. No matter how you slice it, the startup is a straight line to Intel (the next move by Noyce), Apple, Google, and, well, pretty much all of it.

Here is a 16-minute preview, but I urge you to watch the whole thing:

Watch Silicon Valley Chapter 1 on PBS. See more from American Experience.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik