Artifact Details


Blank, Steve oral history, part 1 of 3

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Steve Blank is a serial entrepreneur, author, professor, venture investor, and widely sought-after consultant to business, education and government. He provided an extensive oral history, in three parts, for the Computer History Museum over the period July – November 2019. What sets Steve apart from so many other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs is not only the wide variety of startups he has been involved with, but his ability and willingness to digest these experiences into a set of “learnings” which he has cogently described in his many books, papers, and blog posts. He co-created the Lean Startup methodology and was the author of the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps.

In this, the first of his 3-part oral history, Steve describes his upbringing in New York City as a first generation American. He was a “latchkey” kid, raised by a single mother. He never did homework and did poorly in school, but when he finished near the top of his class in the Regents Scholarship exam, he realized he might be smarter than he thought!

After a brief stint at Michigan State, he dropped out. He hitchhiked to Miami, bounced around, but eventually found himself enlisting in the Air Force in 1972, in an effort to find some discipline and structure in his life. He also got his first introduction to electronics…and to the true meaning of “risk”, as he was repairing fighter planes in Thailand during the Viet Nam War.

After four years in the service Steve returned to college but dropped out again and became a field service technician. This job eventually landed him in Silicon Valley where he went to work for ESL, one of the leading defense contractors of the day. It was this experience that led him to write his series of blog posts and presentation, “The Secret History of Silicon Valley.”

His first job at ESL was as a training instructor, a skill he brought to the commercial world at Zilog, a Silicon Valley semiconductor company. He took over managing Zilog’s customer training department and then moved into their marketing department. This first part of his oral history concludes with a detailed account of his work, and lessons learned, eventually as the VP of Marketing at Convergent Technologies an early workstation supplier.




Blank, Steve, Interviewee
Hancock, Marguerite Gong, Interviewer


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA, USA






Oral history

Collection Title

CHM Oral History Collection


Computer History Museum

Lot Number