The Code

The Code

Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America

Book - 2019
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"The epic human story of how, out of a small patch of land in Northern California, high tech re-created America in its image, for good and for ill. Long before Margaret O'Mara became one of our most consequential historians of the American-led digital revolution, she worked in the White House of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the earliest days of the commercial Internet. There she saw firsthand how deeply intertwined Silicon Valley was with the federal government--and always had been--and how shallow the common understanding of the secrets of the Valley's success actually was. Now, after almost five years of pioneering research, O'Mara has produced the definitive history of Silicon Valley for our time, the story of mavericks and visionaries, but also of powerful institutions creating the framework for innovation, from the Pentagon to Stanford University. It is also a story of a community that started off remarkably homogeneous and tight-knit and stayed that way, and whose belief in its own mythology has deepened into a collective hubris that has led to astonishing triumphs as well as devastating second-order effects. Deploying a wonderfully rich and diverse cast of protagonists, from the justly famous to the unjustly obscure, across four generations of explosive growth in the Valley, from the Forties to the present, O'Mara has wrestled one of the most fateful developments in modern American history into magnificent narrative form. She is on the ground with all of the key tech companies, chronicling the evolution in their offerings through each successive era, and she has a profound fingertip feel for the politics of the sector and its relation to the larger cultural narrative about tech as it has evolved over the years. Perhaps most impressively, O'Mara has penetrated the inner kingdom of tech venture capital firms, the insular and still remarkably old-boy world that became the cockpit of American capitalism and the crucible for bringing technological innovation to market, or not. The transformation of big tech into the engine room of the American economy and the nexus of so many of our hopes and dreams--and, increasingly, our nightmares--can be understood, in Margaret O'Mara's masterful hands, as the story of one California valley. As her majestic history makes clear, its fate is the fate of us all."--Dust jacket.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2019
ISBN: 9780399562181
Branch Call Number: 338.70979 Om18C 2019
Characteristics: 496 pages, [16] unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Code


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Oct 01, 2019

“The Code” is a sweeping history of the origins and life-changing innovations from the businesses that have thrived in Silicon Valley. Professor O’Mara’s book on this complex story is exceptionally readable and informative. The huge role of government funding and support is especially illuminating. Also Offers many starting points for further exploration.

Sep 18, 2019

Love the layers of information in this history, and how the government's role is highlighted. O'Mara throws a wide net to try to help us understand the stories behind success, often written by insider-investors instead of maverick inventors.

Sep 05, 2019

Way, way oversold. O'Mara doesn't know anything about Silicon Valley from her personal experience. She hasn't done the research or know the inner workings that her publisher claims. This is a book by an academic who is trying to pass it off as an insider account. The book is not all bad, but if you are expecting what is being advertised, you will be disappointed. [This comment was written by an experienced lawyer and executive who has worked in Silicon Valley for 30 years.]

Jul 16, 2019

I really did not care for this book, a highly, highly, highly homogenized treatment of events, severely lacking in many ways and explanatory details, frequently giving the wrong impression.
Again, to repeat, Berners-Lee did not creat hypertext and the hyperlink - - that came out of IBM. He took a subset of their publicly domained SGML, made a few tweaks and presented HTML. Hyperlinks were created and existed on IBM networks previously.
It would take many pages to describe the inadequate descriptions by O'Mara. [E.g., the CIA didn't just inexplicably become Thiel/Palantir's major and only first customer - - Thiel knew Richard Perle from the board of American Friends of Bilderberg, Inc. and Perle connected Thiel to Adm. Poindexter who put the CIA onto his company. One can learn much from pouring over IRS 990 tax forms.]
The author really doesn't explain much, reads more like a political tract. She also gives short shrift to Gary Kildall's achievement - - if his CP/M was not the basis for MS-DOS, then why did Microsoft eventually settle out of court for $1 billion to the group who had purchased the rights to the OS from Kildall's estate? Of course, never mentioned by this author . . . .

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