ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Leslie Berlin, the historian who oversees Stanford University's Silicon Valley Archives, talks with Recode's Kara Swisher about her new book, "Troublemakers: How a Generation of Silicon Valley Upstarts Invented the Future." The book traces the rise of seven men and women who were pioneers of the tech industry in the 1970s and early 1980s, including ASK Group founder Sandy Kurtzig, Pong designer Al Alcorn and Apple's "adult supervision," Mike Markkula. Berlin says learning about their importance to the history of the tech industry is "like watching the Big Bang." She also talks about the challenges of preserving tech's history when some crucial documents may be stored in obsolete file formats; why the tech boom happened in Silicon Valley, and not some other part of the country; and why the risk of America's immigration laws becoming more restrictive is a great danger to the industry.

English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00today's show is sponsored by go CD a continuous delivery server built by thought works go CD helps our team really suffer more frequently consistently and reliably downloading news go CD for free visit go CD dot org slash Rico today's show is brought to you by M. particle it's
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00:00:54channels and partners visit M. particle dot com to learn how am particle can help your business unit by the customer experience and accelerate growth Ricoh radio presents Rico decode coming to you from the vox media podcast network hi am care Swisher executive editor Rico's you may know me
00:01:16as someone who makes trouble for a living but in my spare time I talk tech and you're listening to Rico decode a podcast about tech and media is key players big ideas and how they're changing the world we live in you can find more episodes of Rico decode
00:01:28on apple podcast Spotify Google play music or wherever you listen your podcast or just visit Rico dot net slash podcast for more today in the red chair is Leslie Berlin the historian for the Silicon Valley archives at Stanford University she's the author of a new book called troublemakers
00:01:45silicon valley's coming of age is about seven exceptional men and women who are pioneers of today's technology in the nineteen seventies and early nineteen eighties Leslie welcome to Rico decode thanks I like a little history and history buff and stuff like that it's nice to actually talk about
00:02:01olden times I've got a lot of issues with the current regime so %HESITATION that lived to tell about your background how did you become the historian for the Silicon Valley archives stamping diversity and then what the hell are they yeah absolutely I started out at Stanford to get
00:02:16a PhD in history thought as gunna do nineteenth century race relations and decided that really in nineteen century not only is now knowing what went on in the twentieth century and regularly yeah but nineteen centuries really interested Incirlik welfare slaves got freed then what happened them and I
00:02:32ended up just looking around in deciding wild the action here right around Stanford was so interesting at that point people weren't really studying it as a historical phenomenon known goes way back you know I think of it as a federal law we don't care about history I guess
00:02:47that's exactly right and when I finish the PhD I actually got a little entrepreneurial myself and convince Stanford to create a position for me to be the historian for these archives that already existed and the Silicon Valley archives are the really the greatest collection in the world of
00:03:03old notebooks and videos and net different sorts of pages of notes and memos and is just incredulous like a time machine where I come from where was where was it darted because I I just so you know I have a lot of stuff you might want but am
00:03:18what what what how did it come into being to they just are collecting it or what was the absolutely the origin was well what did Stanford have to do with launching Silicon Valley soon started out with looking at the that link and and very quickly people realized well
00:03:33this is a so much more of a story than just the Stanford story has just grown and grown and because a lot of companies started what from Stanford students or ads on Stanford's campus right sure on his own for dinner and really early on when I was all
00:03:46about let's let's kinda make connections between this university and the broader technical community I mean at a time it's hard to imagine now that people were worried about a brain drain from this area of engineers and technical people to the east coast alright so we talk about what's
00:04:02in the archives it is just a cornucopia it goes back how how long on my gosh I mean it goes back to federal telegraph and sort of even before you know between the wars and well let me tell you some of my favorite collections are only have there
00:04:15also we have bill Hewlett's papers we have an incredible collection of Packard from you or not define everyone yeah okay about our audience on papers of Bob Noyce who is the co founder of Intel co inventor of the microchip incredible pictures I think from a series of photographs
00:04:37taken in the nineteen eighties at video game arcades and what's amazing about these photographs as you look at them and there are a bunch of girls playing these video games and it's just sort of shows you what let it wasn't happening it wasn't always this way and letters
00:04:52that are back and forth between various people trying to start companies you know asking their parents for a loan and and then much more current stuffy nose screen shots from second life and all this sort of thing that really gonna gives if feel for the look the time
00:05:08and honestly like what it was like to be here and so worse were collecting also some of the papers of people who you might not think about it and people who worked on the manufacturing line something like that as well so everything just everything absolutely is this dispersed
00:05:25everywhere is it is it all over the country or is Andy and I'll explain why in a second is it just as it is there another place whether it has a repository because I don't use the computer history museum obviously which has a lot of stuff in there
00:05:37are cars and a lot of machines actually which is really kind of interesting yes that we are at it's inch were really interesting hybrid because were a research archive but we're open to the public and so we have a lot of journalists coming in and get them lawyers
00:05:53sometimes trying to figure out wait a second what you know what really are the origins here right and how we get stuff from actually all over the world it tends to be it's very interesting it tends to be in basements and we get these often it's after someone
00:06:08dies we get a call from their heirs saying I have this stuff of you know my dad's usually it do you want it and the answer people always surprised at the answer's yes because you never know you never even never ever know and I mean now you know
00:06:23there's a big question which is okay all this stuff there's there isn't really as much paper anymore right right so what's going to happen should come to my base and think I have everything you want and have the original able business plan oh really now get it too
00:06:35alright that Jasen now I have a lot of the original internet companies business plants and that's funny that would end their press releases and everything else that install on paper and it's in my basement right now it's fascinating I don't know I haven't gone through it I want
00:06:49to go through it first %HESITATION but it's really in the is everything was on paper and now it isn't so how do you deal with that like it's not and I wanna hear what your favorite things how do you do because everything's not on paper now and it's
00:06:59all on disk server in the after on slack or right yeah so I mean this this is just a huge huge issue I mean Stanford's part of an initiative of the number of university consortia and the library of Congress to figure out what are we gonna do about
00:07:14this because you know that paper in your basement was readable when it was made and it's gonna be readable a hundred years from now because you preserve out of your base and kept safe of but it's almost impossible to even use like a member of the palm pilot
00:07:31you know I mean I just went out long ago are we even going to do this so there's been there are people thinking about this as their emails are in there and some server or wherever they are and maybe gone in some way that are hard to find
00:07:43actually or yeah exactly what's the needle in a haystack where there are you know basically someone said to me that you know people used to file right right but now we have millions and millions of emails and not not a single one of them is filed for a
00:07:56bit able to be found right exactly says it's an actually another place or Stanford's been really cutting edge on developing means to for people eventually be able to go through email but not you know pull up personal materials and right it's it's a really sticky wicket yes absolutely
00:08:11one of the things that was interesting I remember doing the labor of Congress a long long time ago was they were trying to save certain early computer seven I was working with them about it and one of the things that they didn't have devices on which to play
00:08:21certain things like they had to have an old kind of come different old computers that would have played a medium like floppy disks and things like that which I mean think about it how would you now play a floppy did how would you know look at a floppy
00:08:33disk right beyond it's it's it's actually there there is a whole universe called forensic archiving and it has to do with exactly this question how do you get all of this back and how do you not corrupted when you open it to look at it then you've changed
00:08:48all the meta data around right you know right it's a huge huge is right right we gotta go back to paper I think I think listen you know it's a lot you can read paper forever it long as there's no fire or head or bugs you're in pretty
00:08:59good shape alright to talk to me about your favorite things in the Arkham then we'll get to the book in the next section no caso what what are some of the favorite things that are in there what what the the piece that I wrote about that I was
00:09:08I I was so excited to have found a was a note from I think was from nineteen seventy six and it's from someone who is the he had a printing business and he has gone to the garage where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak or trying to build the
00:09:25you know the first apple computer and he writes about how there to guide their two young guys in a garage you know sounds fishy watch out that and and and I love it is one fishy yeah it's and you know what they were fishing let's be honest it
00:09:42was I mean it was just such a strange idea at the time and you know so but beautiful about things like that is one that guy wrote that note never thinking like sometimes I think the venture capitalist walk around with like a stack of napkins and they just
00:09:57right you know they meet with someone and they write on it of whatever is going to be huge and then I put it away he said later they can pull it out and say I knew it you know and that just wasn't the case here right and also
00:10:08just give you a sense because this is totally true in the seventies like the notion of going off and trying to do your own thing was still very nasal yeah those entrepreneurs were basically the wash outs who couldn't make it in a real decent company right absolutely yeah
00:10:23they were the washouts obsolete what else what other things do you have what else do I completely love in the archives what told you about the video game portraits that I love at there's a scrapbook of Robert noises that I love from his childhood he put it together
00:10:38and it's a list of inventions that he wants some day to build smile and am on it he says I like inventing things you can you can build something important that doesn't cost very much show and I love things that give a glimpse in rent and they don't
00:10:56like the the lab reports and such that are coming out of these companies at a time and you're just watching them and sometimes you know the ending yeah exactly right and you see the subject lines in there things like vented frustrations are one of my doing here and
00:11:12you know and we've all been there and there's there's something really wonderful about seeing that the people that in the future were frustrated just like anybody absolutely they're running up against walls all the time and what did he do a lot of these companies also have our cards
00:11:25right they they some of them have their own I know H. B. has some of that and some of the other companies to work with those or did they bring those to you or or what's that how do you yeah again it's it's a totally bespoke process so
00:11:37different companies you know we've worked with companies who want help setting up their archives we have well for example when Steve Jobs went back to apple he really wanted to focus that company and focus it on the future and so they had a whole library in its project
00:11:53to start a museum and that entire collection which I think is something like six hundred boxes came to Stanford not so we you know it happens in and in a number of different ways so you got those boxes and yeah we had up anything interesting in their you
00:12:08know it's so vast there some very very interesting videos and such and training and just sort of it's it's ever you can find so much but you everything is interest not exactly so what what do you what do you do what do you do proactively now to get
00:12:25people like it that chatter good you pick companies and say we need your history when you do yeah there's a big educational process and a big component because these are places that are completely focused on the future and very often what happens is only once an anniversary right
00:12:43isn't on the horizon right where they're like what happened all are still right you know and and so that's a that's a good time to talk to yeah that's why I have all the original but they gave it to me and I like watching for assimilated forgot about
00:12:54that I had them and so it's a really interesting you know I have quite a few of them like they just they had him sitting at a desk or something like that of never forget they try to give me a while to dine at they there was one
00:13:05great moment today well where they all signed this dinosaur which was Microsoft in the whole company signed it we're gonna beat the dinosaur and so everyone rushed up and it's signatures of all the original employees of a well wow and they wanted to give me the dinosaur and
00:13:19I was like it's a big piece of plywood shaped like a dinosaur I don't have any way to put it like it was because they were like we we think it's going to get at it intently ounces hasn't someone has it but it's a really it's important moment
00:13:30in his every signature you know or were some of the graffiti it Facebook I know they pulled off the walls that they it was very important graffiti for them and they pull off the walls and and put it into frames so they would have if they had a
00:13:43sense of history there much more so than other people so is interesting like the physical stuff do you collect those things to the physical yeah we do have some of the physical stuff and as well such as computers are yeah I mean we have we have the full
00:13:57actually part of that apple collection we have basically every piece of hardware that you know they had developed up until that yeah want most for his one you should ask him about it right and he's got a he's got a whole scene would have quite a quite a
00:14:10treasure it happened it is office any saved he might happen we might want to ask him things got almost every device ever made like at all to get our rations of them which is interesting would you also doing that physical object yeah beyond and an I. Michael first
00:14:24star tac for example and just and also just trying to and and it's not just that too is also the the manuals and such a right which I mean to me now that that is not my personal insight I'm really into the people right and the stories right
00:14:40there are people who are are so fascinated how how to manuals right right exactly we're gonna get is that more into how many people do you have working on this at Stanford will help but what about how big an initiative as well word integrated in with the whole
00:14:55special collections teams so it's probably all said I guess a couple dozen people and they're trying to take care of this yeah and and and other collections you know across stand for part of what makes this so very cool is that at Stanford people see this as part
00:15:11of a story of American history part of the story of sort of international history and so that hundreds of years from now it'll matter more sadly and that it didn't happen in a vacuum I think the people for about %HESITATION computer history or the history of technology is
00:15:25something that just sort of like showed up and I mean something that you learn very quickly is there's a reason that this happened here there's a reason that it happened when it did right and were able to kind of tell that story told the story how we got
00:15:37the expertise across all these different field alright we're gonna get back going to talk about the stories you have in your book we're here with Leslie Berlin she's a historian for the Silicon Valley archives at Stanford University and the author of a new book called troublemakers silicon valley's
00:15:50coming of age is about seven exceptional men and women who are pioneers of today's technologies in the nineteen seventies and early eighties today's show is brought to you by simple human their goal is to improve the way people go about day to day tasks one innovative product at
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00:17:03with voice again use the promo code keycode at simple human dot com for a discount on your own voice control sensor can I also like to tell you about recode media with Peter Kafka Peter who did you talk to this week characters who I talked to this week
00:17:18I will tell you junk Yugur also known as the CEO and main host of the young Turks it has been around %HESITATION online TV forever there the lefty answer to write for I don't know how you describe them %HESITATION I will tell you he's very very famous %HESITATION
00:17:37he would like more money for being famous and he was like a lot more respect than we can talk all about that school sounds great Peter even find recode media on apple podcast Spotify Google play music or ever you listen to podcasts we're here with Leslie Berlin the
00:17:51historian for the Silicon Valley archives at Stanford University and she's the author of a new book called trouble maker silicon valley's coming of age about seven exceptional men and women who are pioneers of today's technology in the nineteen seventies and eighties so tell me about this book what
00:18:05was the impetus for this book and and what you were trying to achieve yeah with this book I really wanted to do a talk about more than just one person my first book was a biography of Bob Noyce and that he deserved a full biography but it really
00:18:20was apparent to me that innovation is at a team effort right itself or in so I want to be able to talk about of more than one person and also talk about people across a variety of industries and the reason I wanted to do this particular time period
00:18:36the book starts in sixty nine ends in eighty three is that before this time Silicon Valley was sort of like this obscure little place where was deer head engineers selling to gear head engineers who used chips now and within just a not even a dozen years really if
00:18:53you just add up led the time you know the most activity you had of the video game industry was born personal computer industry was born biotech which no one talked about biotech was born I mean right here you know modern venture capital to group the first arpanet transmission
00:19:11comes into SRX and it's like you're watching the the big pain you know and it was so exciting to me it reminds me of the Beatles and how nineteen sixty three they're doing Little Richard covers and by nineteen seventy they've completely transformed music in the broader culture and
00:19:28also at that same time you see the roots of things like the celebrity entrepreneur is really born and also the real effort to send people to Washington and try to promote the notion of tech as an important part of the economy it's all happening during that time we
00:19:44talk about why that is only here but who you who you thought were most exceptional people to some people but why should list they are who they are and the people you are focused on yes sure out do not just their name who we are and who they
00:19:56are okay and so one person is Bob Taylor bomb Taylor is the guy who convinced arpa the department of defense really to start the arpanet that became the internet right then he ran the computer science lab at Xerox parc net as Steve Jobs visited and saw what the
00:20:12graphical user interface and other components for the first time and then he went to deck and it was the head of the group that invented an electronic book and also Alta Vista at one of his key researcher so I mean the search engines and way before there were
00:20:28yeah that way before Google yes search engine that wasn't Google yes exactly and add the index was a computer company that wasn't Microsoft things right but I know it more apple I guess I'm trying to think at IBM yeah Jackie deck definitely was out ideas yeah the funny
00:20:44way to think of it yeah absolutely %HESITATION another person I at profile is Mike Markkula might was important person yes and it was really not well known it all most people know Mike as the investor up behind apple and they usually don't even know that he owned a
00:21:00third of apple with jobs and Wozniak defeated and and what interested me about Mike is that if you think about it jobs was twenty one he had seventeen months business experience Wozniak didn't want to be an entrepreneur at all he just wanted to be an engineer at HP
00:21:18and kind of be dragged into starting apple and it was Mike Markkula and the people from the chip industry that he brought in who made apple from that little garage company with admittedly two geniuses but still a tiny little idea slide into the youngest company exactly exactly they
00:21:37were the young company to hit the fortune five hundred and it it's because of Mike and the people he brought in a healthy choice yeah use of super interesting %HESITATION and you know someone who'd always been in the back he wrote software under a under a pseudonym Johnny
00:21:49apple see I mean that's how much of like a back behind the scenes guy he was yeah I read about seem to Kurt sick who was the first woman to take a tech company public she was a software entrepreneur at a time when software just I mean even
00:22:04Larry Ellison when he started oracle talks about how he went to the venture capitalists offices and not only would they not talk to him they would check his briefcase to make sure that he hadn't stolen business week on the way out of Iraq about something that sounded fishy
00:22:18yeah and here you had sandy Kurtz exert of EE an outsider because software and she's a woman when she said she was selling software people touch was selling lingerie home well come it's crazy yeah and and she did and and she did she started asking right and which
00:22:35will and was the CEO of this company and that she actually didn't start in a garage but at her kitchen table which I think is kind of a nice touch handouts and another person who I profile is kneels Roemer's and kneels was the person who at Stanford was
00:22:53of of sort of a mid level staffer who convinced the university that they ought to be able to stick to make some money and in the process get ideas out to the rest of the world by patenting the ideas from there their faculty and staff and students before
00:23:13Neil started what is now called the office of technology licensing in the previous thirteen years Stanford had gotten three thousand dollars total thirteen years round from their faculty and students and engines now that number thanks to this office as two billion two billion dollars on and one of
00:23:30the first actually I get one of the very first ones that he patented was the idea for recombinant DNA and so Neil this story blends into the story of Bob Swanson and the birth of gin and tech in the biotech industry and Swanson was sort of the business
00:23:45side of the Genentech start out so another person is fine Alvarez and Vaughn is an incredible story of a woman who when the book open she's twelve years old she's picking clones it for pocket money in the bucolic haven of Cupertino California and route yard yeah exactly fields
00:24:09she gets a job on the manufacturing line at Rome and which is something a lot of people don't know that there used to be factories in Silicon Valley you be we had someone had to build the computers in the chipster than that all happened here and then she
00:24:22moves off of the manufacturing line and eventually ends up as the chief of staff effectively to the president of IBM rolled one role is acquired by IBM and that is a clear path that doesn't really exist anymore and you know she was able to buy a house she
00:24:39had the same benefits as other even when she was on the manufacturing line there and they didn't get stock options but they could buy ge stock very cheaply it's it's a it's a part of the valley's history that's just gone yeah and the final person I profile as
00:24:53al Alcorn who is the designer of course Hong and and if I really wanted to make sure that I just had a straight up engineer and hours of super interesting story I wanted to make sure that these were actual stories that these were narratives I mean I I
00:25:10is critical yeah exactly I wanted I wanted this to read for the cavs beginning a middle and an end in the people actually get somewhere different as though those those are my criteria I wanted they had long he's going pop music came along with the video game yeah
00:25:27it really is a fun the first popular video game and you know you look at it now and it's sort of like a rectangle hitting a square foot for a place to be a ping pong match that I played a lot when I was a kid and it
00:25:40was it was totally radical because most people in the world at that point had only the the notion of interacting with your TV was completely utterly yeah you know nobody on it the first thing that people wanted to know how did the networks know that they had moved
00:25:55the paddle so that they could chinos transmit that it's just it's it's hard now because we're here to dial it back and imagine what it was like at the beginning shirts like not understanding car before you saw one or plane or anything else exact %HESITATION and so you
00:26:10took these narratives in your age and your goal was to to tell the stories that they did what what was it was there a story that was common in all the narratives or was there something that that net them together at all different but they were they were
00:26:24certainly different different stories yeah it was that I felt like there was there was a common theme which I would that I would describe as these these were people who were audacious for the most part mom they were persistent which I think people don't necessarily recognize often needs
00:26:41to come with audacity and it's easy to go blazing you know out with guns firing yeah but then you have to kind of keep it up him and they were doing it for a purpose and and they were not sort of the I want to blow things up
00:26:55for the sake of blowing them up or even honestly I wanna blow things up for the sake of making money right it was I want this idea to reach the public I want computers to be able to talk to each other I want everybody to be able to
00:27:08have the power of the electronics at their hands you know these these were actually they're quite lofty goal and then play here and that I think was an important unifying theme as well and what about the sense of place because it's all in the same place you talked
00:27:23about all these things were invented in one place during one period what was you know it's we will talk about the renaissance or wherever something big happens in one place what was it about here that matter yeah aside Stanford University and I do think it's critically important yet
00:27:38Stanford was critically important and I I I think that the rest of the three things at play here one was it was just plain old good fashion look at William Shockley the co inventor of the transistor his mother lived here and he wanted to be near his mother
00:27:53and so the transistor arrives at a time that is it's it's when it's right for a change and I'll get to that in a second but the transistor is in an incredibly powerful and flexible little tool it's like the tiny grain of sand inside a pearl and kind
00:28:11of everything that has come since you can think of as a layer of the pearl having been built on it seeded this incredibly powerful technology and you drop it into a place that on the one hand of course is fully integrated into the most advanced economy on the
00:28:25planet at the time and at the same time itself really is still rural and so they were able to basically custom fit in eco system around this technology that that was really sort of designed to for entrepreneurship and to promote it and and the third thing that I
00:28:43would really point to is the culture out here as it it was this particular time was the counter culture exactly and not really that sort of openness and and rebellion and it was a very potent combination dipstick that technology in those people's hands and because they were so
00:29:03against the war most of them it would you really had people who normally would have gone to the DOD or two defense contractors because they're experts in microelectronics or graphics are suddenly freed up had to be playing with this technology in a way that anything exactly right yeah
00:29:21so those things all combined and I mean at this point now we've got forty some odd years of ongoing perpetual motion machine happening here such that you've really got quite the finely tuned organism right that it is said that it's a it's a question place in the tonality
00:29:38in the culture and the mentality in the money like venture capital you the as you said the invention of modern venture capital really did happen here that's right did you include of entries included venture happens in this list you know I didn't as a separate person but there's
00:29:51certain people don Valentine actually funds Atari and he finds apple and he's one of these old microchip guys a bird make merch res all over at Kleiner Perkins backs Anna Genentech and tandem and so while they aren't I don't have one who is a mainland is same way
00:30:09actually with the attorneys there's this term is yeah or them the PR and marketing people so Larry since sini appears in this book although he's not profiled Regis McKenna is super important and he he is there and Intel engine and to actually I mean this is the same
00:30:26guy introduced the world to the microprocessor the personal computer and biotech no I mean and actually he's the guy who came up with the idea of let's send tech execs to DC rather than lobbyists and sort of put a face on this technology so that we get more
00:30:43funding and different things you had one and yeah exactly and plus I mean this tech it's it's a match it's still really hard to understand but imagine what it was like back then explain what this is is a critical part in Richmond county right I didn't thought about
00:30:55that so it will end and the idea that one of the things is really doing is you're not you're not providing people are so well known you could run the jobs and the all the early I'm obviously Bob Noyce was very important but there's there was a list
00:31:07of higher level people that you didn't look at and why do you think is important to look at these other people I agree with you a hundred percent by the way I'm not arguing that just what it what it what was your goal in that yes so my
00:31:17goal in that at it I think I actually wonder if the seed was planted at a party I was at a long long time ago and there was the CEO of a company with a very famous CEO and the CEO started singing this little song that in the
00:31:32words were I did all the work he got all the credit and a little long I've heard I wonder if that pleaded to see because the people who get the credit often deserve credit and writing never deserve all the credit and now the honest ones would be the
00:31:46first one to tell you that they don't see and I think that growing a company is such a complex business and I really wanted to go list of teams are critical exactly that's exactly right and there are people who switch things a different way just by being there
00:31:59like Mike Markkula I think you're right like it wouldn't happen that way without his critical influence it in different ways right or any of these people you know you talk about I mean the end because it also jump that one of things as I'm alley things jump off
00:32:11from other things like pong jump to something else judge jump to the idea of interaction so it it introduced that idea yeah so there's a lot of ideas that look like failures or have had their time but haven't finished yet right yeah I mean that's you know that
00:32:26actually points do just as an aside the importance of basic research none which since you never know exactly what's going to end up coming right out of these different operation board that that there were I was checking some of the other day they were making trying to go
00:32:40losses that it's an important invention you don't understand it's not today but later there's going to be a facial then on your face that you will do a are on through but not that one just on that one which is interesting at lot of the failures I mean
00:32:53I know it's sort of a trope was so invalid failure is a good thing but I don't necessarily think that's a good thing but the conceptual ideas are good things not the necessarily the product they just failed yeah I mean I I think so much has to depend
00:33:03on what you know why did you fail right because they're an idiot yeah yeah yeah but only if I don't talk about some of the so heavily now as opposed to that and and and what you what are your thoughts on how the involving this from these people
00:33:17and you think the the people today are reflective of what was originally happened or perhaps a mutated version or or where it's going we're here with Leslie Berlin she is the archivist at Stanford University for the Silicon Valley archives and she's written a book called the trouble makers
00:33:33about people from the seventies and early eighties %HESITATION who had that been critical of people you might not know about in critical to the development of Silicon Valley today's show is sponsored by go CD and open source continuous delivery server built by thought works with OCD your team
00:33:51can really software more frequently consistently and reliably enjoy advanced traceability by visualizing your complex workflows from end to end go CD is open source and free to use professional support and enterprise add ons are available from thought works for out of the box continuous delivery visit go see
00:34:10deep dot org slash Rico this episode is brought to you by M. particle the customer data platform for every screen and I'm here with co founder and CEO Michael cat we know that people using mobile to research and transact more than ever before we've talked about %HESITATION what's
00:34:27the future of mobile commerce and how does and particle help its retailer customers like overstock Lilly Pulitzer and jet dot com so the classic notion of a person moving through the final is fundamentally broken I may start researching a company's product on their laptops subscribe to that brands
00:34:44email newsletter a few days later getting email which they open on their phone download the app and complete purchase is the right there just trying to map the customer journey you need to capture data from four five systems so brands need to create %HESITATION consistent and personalized experiences
00:35:00across all these devices and systems and so it starts with having a data platform that was built to ingest data from anywhere a unified view of the customer and then in real time sync that data out to all the various marketing and analytics tools that the company may
00:35:16use in order to create these experiences were doing very different things all the time absolutely dynamic as they are using all these devices for sure thank you my cats of em particle where can we learn more about what you're doing good at W. W. W. dot and particle
00:35:31dot com or follow us on Twitter at M. particles within us thank you so much we're here with Leslie Byrne land the historian for the Silicon Valley archives at Stanford University she's also the author of a new book called troublemakers silicon valley's coming of age I'm what you
00:35:48call troublemakers let me because they just make trouble or what was that I like a troublemaker yeah I I I meant it with all of the positive connotations of risk taking and mischief making and I think that these people were making trouble because the existing structures just didn't
00:36:07they couldn't do what they needed to do and I think anytime that you're kind of pushing through a barrier you are making trouble for everyone around you because you know you do leave a little bit of disaster in your wake sometimes sure absolutely and you imagine that still
00:36:22exists today let's let's take a look a bright line from these people what what is the good parts of what has remained from this beginnings because it was a counter culture movement it was it was the people who were different was more tolerant community essentially allowing differences but
00:36:38it seems to have morphed into something else there's an hour in the middle section rats and things like of diversity huge companies that have a huge influence over the whole country and maybe are using their power quite so benignly I'm so can you talk about that concept the
00:36:54idea of what it's balled into you have any thoughts about that yeah sure I I have a lot of thoughts about that I think that some of the good that has maintained is the spirit of risk taking %HESITATION though the welcoming of outside perspectives I mean the way
00:37:12you see this most clearly is in the role of immigrants as so when in when this book opens nineteen sixty nine and in the past twenty years the population of of silicon valley's tripled and you basically had the equivalent of a new person moving into Silicon Valley every
00:37:30fifteen minutes for twenty years straight one and so you have this constant refresh of new people there coming in their younger they're better educated than anyone who's been there before and at that point they're coming from other parts of the US but by the end of the time
00:37:47that I'm writing about their coming from around the world were running you know about two two and a half times the percent of the population is immigrant could the rest of the country and you know a critical issue out absolutely and I mean at this point we are
00:38:02at two thirds of the people who are working in the tech industry right now between the ages of twenty five and forty four two thirds of the men actually seventy six percent of the women were born outside the United States a low pay attention down from it's I
00:38:16mean it's it's yeah whenever people ask me what's the biggest threat to the valley I spend that always my first a hundred percent and so I think that openness has been an important thing we've maintained something that I really have been scratching my head about a lot I
00:38:31genuinely don't understand this is how the same place they can be so open to immigrants has been so close to women I really don't get it it it it it I I'm not understanding and you know I'd be cares no well I thought you I miss had a
00:38:45guest on talking about the idea that the lot of these computer labs were like this and they've just now become the most powerful people and so they had that mentality that just carried out into the broader part because idea you know I have my saying that I always
00:38:56say that it's a they they think they're a meritocracy their their meritocracy is their super comfortable at the very common human trait %HESITATION where you are comfortable with people that look like you or it or act like you and you're much more is the I I don't buy
00:39:10the socially awkward and they can't get along with women crap that's crap yeah I mean the end to act like you for sure but a lot of these people they don't necessarily look like you right there people coming from other parts of the world right yet it adds
00:39:23I I like the %HESITATION meritocracy I've heard you say that yeah but I think it's such as that not just the white the below it is if you look at the numbers they pretty much are that specially in the critical engineering jobs but even if there's people from
00:39:36Asia or India or or inches India's in Asia but Asian or a %HESITATION or other parts of the world it's really interesting that they also do fit the manager of a nerdy tack it it's the same person essentially has done as a sign color but you don't see
00:39:54say a lot of African Americans we don't see a lot of %HESITATION of older people in I mean it's a really it's the it's not just women but it's it's sort of it's almost a hostility towards when you can see it just the stories coming out just one
00:40:08after the next %HESITATION I do think it is because of a tolerance for juvenile behavior men men and celebrating actually use them and not not in the Hollywood sense although that certainly it's a just a different iteration of it is the idea of young and grow and Breakin
00:40:26who cares as a toddler kind of things and if you let toddlers run things you're going to get what you got you know essentially yeah I mean what's so interesting as I open the book with a Steve Jobs is two thousand five commencement address at Stanford which I
00:40:38mean it's just leave fame has been seen you know tens of millions of times and there should be there's a part of that that I think people kind of skip over which is he talks about how when he was first fired from apple he called David Packard he
00:40:49called Bob Noyce and he said he apologized for dropping the baton and I think that that sort of notion that there is a hand off of a pond from one generation to the next to the next I mean jobs didn't talk about it but soccer Berg has talked
00:41:04about how jobs was important to him and Google founders same thing and I think that %HESITATION you know this notion of what's derisively called adult supervision not the people who are smart I mean Zuckerberg went and talked to Bob Taylor had to do it the people who are
00:41:22smart are leaning on the guidance of the people who came before right and I think something interesting about your meritocracy point add that to sort of talk about what's good and what's bad I mean what we're seeing there is to me the shadow side of silicon valley's great
00:41:38strength is gonna networks right and the the sort of for a long time these networks of completely transcended industries they've they've transcended companies and it's just been you know this is like so that the pay pal mouth mafia is a great example there was one of these at
00:41:54Xerox parc sure where these groups of people work together and then they guests first right general magic was one of them general magic is a great example on and what we see now is this really important question of okay but what if you're not in the network even
00:42:08you know those networks are so powerful but then how do you how do you get in right now you know how you create new ones they'll give you just as much power and access in exactly and how do you convince the people on the inside of the networks
00:42:20of the value of opening them up because data does not mean for such a data driven place it's very strange and that it's been shown again and again and again that increasing diversity of all sorts creates more valuable companies think one of the issues is that it's not
00:42:36me his malevolent but it's not malevolent misogyny that so obvious that he is as been in other industries where it's just a real missed misogynistic its misogyny in a very pleasant clothing like it's I'm a nice guy and I don't mean to do this and then what happens
00:42:52is a lot of the men I have no clue what's going on with the with the predator types and and don't seem to care don't don't ask don't take the time to care we did a lot of the coverage we did recently on sexual harassment a lot of
00:43:06even going back to Ellen pao trial a lot of every woman I say this all the time every single woman had at least six stories and so humbly everyone of them and they range from the very micro aggressions to you should smile more don't look pretty today to
00:43:19really serious sexual harassment very few of the good man knew it either the women didn't tell them or they it and I don't know where I always try to think what I think historically where does that come from they just didn't stay in they were insular to this
00:43:34group and therefore why would they care what they thought you know because they were the original apple had a lot of women on that team Susan care a whole bunch of it you know there were tons of important right there and then they went like now you look
00:43:47at that apple doesn't have a lot of women at the top and it really influential positions but certainly did at the beginning and so what have what occurred did bother had occurred did like they couldn't keep up did it did misogyny in no it's it's really hard to
00:44:01to wonder yeah it's interesting I was talking just the other night and with sandy curtsy who's one of the people in the book and she was saying that in her day the the sexism was just over yeah I mean she was the CEO of a company and people
00:44:16would ask her to bring them coffee and out and you know she would just flat out be told because she wasn't started out doing manufacturing software a woman can't do manufacturing software she felt like she knew what she was up against and I think that of course of
00:44:33course the opportunities for women now I mean I believe are better than they've ever been in this particular industry they're not where they need to be obviously right on it but I think his pernicious sort of an ideology and actually almost on thinking this is something that is
00:44:52different and in some ways harder to come back absolutely can't like his face it head on and and when you complain you seem crazy it's almost like a gas lighting on the situation I mean you're like I'm sure it's there how does it end up in this way
00:45:05%HESITATION you're just imagining and we have lots of opportunities for women in your life do you do they get promoted you know I mean it's a really interesting thing there's all kinds of solutions presented but I do think it goes back to the history of who started it
00:45:16like it just they just hold on to this mythology and I think that's the problem with history there's history and then there's mythology history which I think you know there's all these tropes in Silicon Valley from the beginning days of what they think they were is like the
00:45:28trips around the United States of America we always over this independent that people know me leave out the slavery we leave out the brutality we leave out that you know there's a really great time he's he codes essay about this just recently we leave out the parts that
00:45:41are we're very good at the at the inconvenient parts of of our history which I think is important I'm is that hard when your history when you come across sort of negative stuff around the people that you're depicting up I think you can't do the job if that's
00:45:57going to be hard for you I mean you as a journalist of yes means having papered over certain thing that lot of historians have tried to paper over well sure I mean especially if you're if you're taking on something as huge as trying to understand you know the
00:46:10entire roots of why something happened you have to pick an argument and sometimes tracing that argument out means that you're gonna leave aside things that aren't you know directly contributing one way or another to it but I think this is where the the paper record is so important
00:46:26and ice and it's it's it's right there in black and white or in this case you know it's right there on video is is where we're really catching it now and how did those check how do you tend translate that minutes video and again at more and more
00:46:40like there are some probably really important Snapchat's I'm certain of it like right and I have to be or texts or something like that I bet there's super important tax going on I mean I I you know I have I always think I I think about it now
00:46:54twenty years later but I didn't do tax but I did emails and and and then later tax with like marquetry center read off men and I'm like she save these because most of them are like did you see that movie or you know I mean summer so mundane
00:47:08but some of them are like what are you selling Netscape why are you selling at skate you don't I mean like right or something like that name and I always been vaguely where the never do anything about it because I know there are there important at the time
00:47:21but then don't preserve them well I mean I think that one of the problems that kind of holds things up is that people seem to think that they have to sort through like right okay I'm gonna go through in cherry pick out all of the right and that
00:47:37is actually the job of the historians for Dr alter regular out and plus that sort of like did you see that movie kind of thing gives you the contact right right right which you can kind of talk about his relationship so it's really important hand you know years
00:47:50ago when I was at the library when I was working the question posed I and I understood that these people are going to be important I wanted to do interviews with all of them now and then twenty years like market reason then Steve case then and I wanted
00:48:02to say with them will do them later like that they will have young market recent on video or right along like you have a large scale you know what I mean like and then later we'll have it I do think that often about some of the interviews you've
00:48:14done it to all things D. fifteen years back I mean there and they are an archival treasure trove some day I do think about that like it some day people are gonna watch those and and if and see and right now news Corp until have them but hopefully
00:48:28they'll give them up but they are they're like they're like Steve Jobs over the course of his most productive years interview the only interviews he did so there's there's something very valuable in that absolutely it's like a time lapse photographs right you know and you watch someone learning
00:48:44and not just learning how to present themselves but learning what they're about right and also lying he lied about the fight not gonna make a phone much like in the next year %HESITATION I lied about make him sound like it is greatly because you haven't actually lying about
00:48:56not doing a phone on the record about you know in a in a video thing so it's kind of interesting to think about %HESITATION and same thing with photographs and things like that you spend a lot of time on photograph Sir yeah photographs there are that a complete
00:49:10treasure trove in part because they show you what things looked like a random like very often a look at a picture and I really don't care who the person is in the pictures and I'll wait a second like I remember seeing the picture of Mike Markkula in his
00:49:23office at apple and I don't remember what I remember he looked a little bit like John Denver yeah those that I've %HESITATION but but the main thing on the rocky mountain high days yeah exactly there's nothing on his desk there's nothing hanging on the wall behind there sort
00:49:36of a file cabinet and there's a coffee maker and that's it and that sort of thing gives you so personally to yeah exactly you totally get it right am I mean photographs were also really frustrating because so often they include people you don't know you know who they
00:49:51are yeah %HESITATION I know Stanford in the past as has had events where basically you invite people to come tell you who they who are these people who are these you know what did they do yeah there's one photograph I'll never forget I hope you will put in
00:50:05the archive is one of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates together when we did the interview and gates did not want to do that just didn't I mean it you did eventually but it was hard to get them to take a photo together they had some issues that day
00:50:17and and their history essentially and and one of the things that appeal to them was bald and I were like this will be for history in a hundred years this is the photo %HESITATION that they're gonna you were together link you the two greatest yet one of the
00:50:30two greatest people in the history of tack and you need to have a photo together and it was really funny I think that really appeal that's what got him to do it I think was like this you'll be debt and this will be the photograph but nobody will
00:50:42know what they were saying before they took that picture except for me I'm all right and the PR people because they were arguing in a minute and you can stand if you knew it you could see just a little bit of like men in them and the smile
00:50:55but it was really interesting so you they they tell a story without telling story which I think is interesting that's right and Stanford actually in the process of developing the technology so that people can annotate things online at it for still a little ways out and that but
00:51:08people be able to look away yet but but actually the image and maybe do it through a voice recording or something like that I was taking this picture this is what I remember exactly love to do that yeah they were arguing GF why I think they really were
00:51:22arguing over something but lastly I wanted to finish up on with the lessons that you've learned from doing this and and what the lessons we can have today given looking backwards at history you know when you look back at history you can learn a lot about what you're
00:51:36doing for going forward what do you think the key things that people should keep in mind yeah so closely during this brought time yeah add the the first one is that as the first shall be last and the last shall be first and at a biblical view yes
00:51:51exactly on and and I mean you can act actually people can see this anytime if they go past Facebook where you've you've ever wondered why is it that Facebook sign changes all the time the answer is that there's a huge piece of vinyl that is literally bungee cord
00:52:07around the front of the sign for Sun Microsystems and they kept it and he kept it there specifically because I checked with them yes trip did their goal to remind people that you know this this can all go away it will go away and if not can it
00:52:22will and that's I mean it's such a lesson that you've you've in I mean Andy Grove right only the paranoid survive then I don't get it it's it's in you know change is just sort of coming on on at the second thing that I think is really important
00:52:37to bear in mind is this notion that I mean silicon valley's most interesting to me because it has been wave after wave after wave of different technologies coming up here I mean they're always been think of Detroit there been regions that are built around a technology at full
00:52:53stop but here it's been really weird chips no were were computing know where biotech no we're video in and now we're in cloud now we're doing networking now we're doing they are they are yeah exactly you know it's all just sort of built on top and that in
00:53:08part is due to and for my money two things one is this baton pass concept ana and two is the influx of new ideas from all over the world I think does it not very important yeah terror in mind so blessed is the past prologue I assert question
00:53:25for historians yeah I mean the the past no the the the past is so deeply interwoven into everything that we do and our that we don't even recognize it and it takes a super human fleet of self awareness to say to yourself I'm keeping what's good and I'm
00:53:50changing you know why it isn't and I mean it's you know in these fraught times it's really important to recognize you have to physically and intellectually rest yourself out of those rips yeah present and when you think about sort of we had Eric Weiner from the geography of
00:54:06innovation this will pass they will in the next place might be China or cement that what is the the the cycle of this innovation or can they keep it here for good well I think I mean I think what we've seen already is that there are plenty of
00:54:24other tech regions rate I mean just still not so compelling no no and but I think that Silicon Valley at this point wouldn't exist without those other regions in place so I think that we have to change the model a little bit in terms of feeling like a
00:54:39is zero seven game right exactly I mean yeah they're going to there are and there will continue to be these at regions and I think the winner is gonna be who ever can be most attractive to the people who are most likely to be the innovators right which
00:54:55will be heart is really interesting and sort of I have I have a theory of everything a Babylon was like Babylon used to be important right was you know kind of thing and I think it's with people here should keep that in mind like how that how how
00:55:06easily it is can slip away essentially or just does it just does by lack of openness lack of tolerance lack of diversity those are always always the things and killing these innovative cultures although the government can do a good job yet killing it too yeah I mean I
00:55:21think that people really under estimate how important government has been to the rise in ongoing success yep a Silicon Valley everything from really stuff that we don't take that we totally take for granted like generally speaking and we hope it continues the rule of law you know clean
00:55:37water this this is just stuff that we don't even think about but honestly it puts us on third base relative to most other countries right and then they have been all sorts of legislation that's passed changes in rules decisions not to change rules that that have ended up
00:55:53paying out really really well for the tech industry and I I think that we can't forget now that you know we have this notion that everyone that the the valley is the result of individual effort there and and of course it is but that is credit hated on
00:56:09it a whole system that name is there he needs to be maintained and recognize intercourse correct when it went off right so what can the government do what can the government do now I'm trying you know I've been thing about this just like everybody else rate I mean
00:56:25what I think we can't do is start saying and you know we're going to charge these companies with the responsibility of say determining what is real what is fake what is I mean that I don't see how that's gonna work I do think there's some validity to these
00:56:41questions around are these companies functioning more and more like utilities I I think that's you know something that it's the answer to that is yes than their ways to act my latest thing is that I've decided that we as consumers and citizens need to be more responsible for
00:56:59what's happening and I've been thinking that we need one way for us to at least begin to get a slight hold of what is happening to our data that is then being fed ex now the rhythms is a I and things neural networks is as this is so
00:57:15small remember how credit cards used to be the you get your statement and then buried deep in the fine print it would tell you if you pay your minimum amount you're gonna pay forever this cult compound interest and now there's this little there's in big letters in on
00:57:29your credit card statement yes if you only pay the minimum amount you're gonna end up going three times I would love to see something like that for terms of service that basically said if you click this box you are saying that we can collect the you know the
00:57:40following information about you and we're going to use it in this way and I think that we need to be making some conscious and sometimes difficult decisions around okay am I okay being the product or not right that's a very good very good thing to and on Leslie
00:57:54Byrne this is been fascinating I think you should run Silicon Valley frankly %HESITATION thank you so much for coming on the show and was great talking to you if you enjoy the interview as much as I did be sure to subscribe to the show be the first listening
00:58:06future episodes or catch up on previous episodes include some really fantastic interviews I've done with people like the brave Dalio Tim o'reilly and Susan would just ski you can find all those episodes and more wherever you found this one on our website Rico dot net slash podcast now
00:58:19that you're done with this check out one of our other shows on record media with Peter Kafka you her no nonsense interviews with some of the smartest people in media entertainment I host too embarrassed to ask long would learn good of the birth we answer all the questions
00:58:30about consumer tech and recode replay you can find audio from all of records live events including the code conference thanks for listening thanks to our sponsors and thanks also to cadence thirteen and vox media they sell those asked so you can listen to the show for the low
00:58:44low price of free and thanks are entered Jill Robbie and our producer Eric Johnson this is been another episode recode decode I'll be back here on Monday with another great guest tune in then what is machine learning have to do with autonomous driving how do you build a
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ABOUT THIS PODCAST

A show about tech and media's key players, big ideas, and how they're changing the world we live in. One of tech's most prominent journalists, Kara Swisher, is known for her insightful reporting and straight-shooting style. Listen in as she hosts hard-hitting interviews with influential business leaders and outspoken personalities from media, politics, and more.

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