Artifact Details

Title

Code : Silicon Valley and the remaking of America, The

Catalog Number

102717524

Type

Moving image

Date

2019-07-17

Participants

Kalil, Tom, Speaker
Markoff, John, Moderator
O'mara, Margaret, Speaker

Publisher

Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA

Duration

01:17:56

Format

MOV

Description

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 how shallow the common understanding of the Valley’s success actually was.

Now, after years of in-depth research, O’Mara has produced the definitive history of Silicon Valley for our time. THE CODE: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America is a complete tour of the foundation of the digital age. Beginning with Silicon Valley’s initial boom in the postwar era at the hands of academic administrators and eccentric trust-funders, and spanning Ross Perot’s 1960s pioneering of data services, the influence of Reagan’s White House on the tech boom, Jeff Bezo’s lean operations in the early days of Amazon, and up through Steve Jobs’ private memorial service, O’Mara peels back the surprising stories behind the characters at the center of the technology revolution.

But THE CODE is not only a tale of the mavericks and visionaries of the tech boom. O’Mara also reveals how government contracts and defense spending played an enormous role in building Silicon Valley, and how powerful institutions like the Pentagon and Stanford University created a framework for innovation that allowed entrepreneurial juggernauts to rise. Throughout, O’Mara is on the ground at all the key companies of the tech sector, wrestling with its politics and its relation to the larger cultural narrative about tech as it has evolved over the years. Most impressively, she has penetrated the inner kingdom of tech venture capital firms—the insular and still remarkably old-boy world that has become the cockpit of American capitalism.

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 O’Mara’s masterful hands. As her lucid writing makes clear, the fate of this patch of land in Northern California is the fate of us all.

Joining Margaret O’Mara on stage is Tom Kalil, who designed and launched national technology initiatives for Presidents Clinton and Obama. Veteran tech journalist John Markoff will guide the conversation.

Category

Talk

Collection Title

CHM Live

Credit

Computer History Museum

Lot Number

X9116.2020