I'll be anxious to see the PBS documentary. There were still a few orchards left (but not many) when I arrived in silicon valley to start my career in semiconductors in 1980. It was a fun and exciting time, but I wish I had been there to experience it 10 years earlier. I worked at National Semiconductor during the Charlie Sporck era. He was an inspirational figure to me at the time.
Not all of us were developers. Some of us built systems using the new devices, ones that helped American defense. EDL was just up the street from Fairchild. good times, long hours,doing things noboy thought could be done but asked us to try - and we usuallly succeeded.
It was my great privilege to meet Gordon Moore at Intel, and later, Julius Blank at Xicor. Both of these industry giants were true gentlemen, modest and unassuming. Julius built the industry's first diffusion furnace by hand. I also remember the "slippery wood floors" at DEC in Maynard: slippery because it was a 150-year-old woolen mill on the banks of the Assabet River, and lanolin from the wool had soaked into the floors. "Building something from nothing" has been a hallmark of our industry, and this creativity (and creative destruction) will continue to lead us into the future.
I lived in Santa Clara (by the Lawrence Expressway) in 1980-81, and I also remember there were still orchards left. Those were exciting times, but the industry has really matured. Not the same as it was back then.
I enjoyed watching the PBS documentary and thought it was well done! Very much worth the time!
I work in Illinois' Research and Development Cooridor just west of Chicago. While I'd hardly claim we are the "Silicon Prairie", I sure wish they'd stop pulling the Embedded Systems Conference out of Chicago! :'(
The documentary on Venture Capitalists was good also but I liked it better when it focused more on the tech companies and entrepreneurs they worked with. I always wondered what the story was with the Cisco Systems founders.