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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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work