American Experience: Silicon Valley

by Bob Schwartz

Silicon Valley
Tech history is our history. As enlightening and fun as it is, it is also more complex than learning about cars and trains and planes, all of which we understand, or can learn to. But transistors, integrated circuits and, ultimately, microprocessors are harder to grasp.

But this is also human history, the intertia of brilliant people at rest and in motion. That’s why the background of these digital days is fascinating, and why the new PBS American Experience documentary Silicon Valley is so enthralling.

You know where Silicon Valley is, what it is, and may have been there. How that agricultural Santa Clara Valley became the center of the world is a story. But the real story is how Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore and Andrew Grove—the godfathers of Intel—and their colleagues, predecessors and competitors changed the way the world worked technically, commercially and socially.

Silicon Valley is that story. It is inspiring, in the way that all risky ventures into the unknown are inspiring. It is also one of the rare worthy arguments for some sort of true American exceptionalism, since there is an inherent sense watching this—as politically incorrect as some may find it—that this is a quintessentially American story. This is what we did, this is what we do.

Silicon Valley is not to be missed.