Artifact Details


Bechtolsheim, Andy (Andreas) oral history

Catalog Number





Born in 1955, Andy describes growing up in Germany in a small rural town in the shadow of the Alps. Although he had no direct outside influence, Andy quickly developed a keen interest in electrical and electronic devices. He turned his basement into his electronic workshop. When the microprocessor was developed in the early 1970’s he immediately recognized the unique potential of this new device, becoming a self-taught expert. While working at a local shop which did machine controllers, he developed the idea to replace the random logic controllers with a programmable machine. He built the device from scratch, programmed it in binary, and made a very successful business selling these controllers to this local shop.

After winning a national science fair award, he won a Fulbright scholarship to come study in the United States. He enrolled in Carnegie Mellon as a graduate student and earned a Master’s degree in 1976 at the age of 19. He transferred to Stanford University in 1977 where he came into contact with the work at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. On seeing the Alto computer at PARC, he immediately realized it represented the future of computing. He embarked on building a similar personal workstation at Stanford where it became an immediate hit.

After several attempts to sell his workstation design to existing companies, he decided to once again start a company of his own, Sun Microsystems. After helping Sun grow into a major workstation vendor, Andy got the entrepreneurial itch again and started Granite Systems, a gigabit Ethernet company. Since then he has founded or funded many other companies, including being the first outside investor in Google. Andy is currently at his latest startup, Arista Networks, which went public in 2015.




Bechtolsheim, Andy, Interviewee
Dennis, Eric, Videographer
Fairbairn, Douglas, Interviewer


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA, USA


27 p.



Copyright Holder

Computer History Museum




semiconductor history; Sun Microsystems, Inc.; Khosla, Vinod; McNealy, Scott; Granite Systems; Google, Inc.; Arista Networks; Gigabit Ethernet; NetApp; Kealia; HighBAR Ventures; Chariton, David; Joy, Bill; SPARC; RISC

Collection Title

CHM oral history collection


Computer History Museum

Lot Number


Related Records

102737928 Bechtolsheim, Andy (Andreas) oral history