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Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom)
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Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  897 ratings  ·  136 reviews
"This is the most important book on Silicon Valley I've read in two decades. It will take us all back to our roots in the counterculture, and will remind us of the true nature of the innovation process, before we tried to tame it with slogans and buzzwords." -- Po Bronson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nudist on the Late Shift and Nurtureshock

A candid, colorf
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Hardcover, 512 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by Twelve
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  897 ratings  ·  136 reviews


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Start your review of Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom)
Gary Moreau
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is “genius” on a number of fronts. The first is the writing itself. There isn’t any. With little narrative support the book is entirely made up of individual quotations grouped and stacked around the story of one Silicon Valley venture or another.

At first this gives the impression that the author played more the role of researcher and curator than traditional author. And then it hits you. Fisher, in choosing the quotes and stacking them as if they represent the conversations taking pla
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Todd N
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book, which is sort of the Please Kill Me of Silicon Valley in that it’s an oral history attempting to cover crucial cultural events from different points of view.

Things I liked:
- Hearing the good old stories about Xerox PARC, The “demo,” and Homebrew Computer Club. (Did I mention that I have a mouse signed by Douglas Englebart?)
- Getting a refresher on the founding of the old-timey companies like Apple, General Magic, and Netscape.
- An explanation of first tries “big things
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Mason Jones
This was an enjoyable book, but it's difficult for me to say how much of my enjoyment comes from having lived through a fair amount of what's discussed. The verbal history-type approach of the book works well, so the story is told by the people who lived it. After an initial sort of overview of "what makes Silicon Valley what it is", the story really starts with Douglas Engelbart and the NASA/SRI/Xerox PARC days, through Atari, and early Apple. I was entertained by the section on the Well, since ...more
Blake
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
A decent index for other great books to read

I just finished reading this, and in a word, it was decent. 

What made this book unique and interesting was not so much the content, but the way that it was presented: specifically, the narrative structure - there just isn't one. 

Fisher's text is an assemblage of line-by-line quotations from individuals interviewed directly by Fisher, or by other members of the technology journalism community. Before reading it, I was not quite sure what to expect, give
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Molly
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. I don't recommend consuming this outside of a physical paper page-turner; it's essentially a series of quotes from various technorati from over the years. At times it was quite difficult to keep track of who everyone is — this made the lack of diversity in the industry quite painfully obvious — there's an appendix with a list of names and short bios, but jumping back and forth like this on a Kindle is not easy.

I enjoyed learning more about some of the old school technology history th
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Shannon Orton
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I put this down 1/3 of the way through and then tried again and put this down again permanently 2/3 of the way through not because of format or content but because of the personal feelings it invoked. I worked in the valley in the 90s and it was overflowing with spoiled, privileged, narcissistic males. Exciting stuff, no doubt.
Pete
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Valley of Genius : The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom) (2018) by Adam Fisher is an interesting book that is a history of Silicon Valley from the late 1960s that is given entirely in quotes by people who were involved in the creation of the technologies involved.

The book is in three sections, the first covering Atari, Apple, Xerox PARC, the second is all about the ‘Hacker Ethic’ and Silicon Valley in the late 1980s and early 199
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Taylor Barkley
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really interesting and impressive. Filled in a whole lot of gaps in my knowledge about recent tech history. It’s also written in a unique way in that it’s a stitched together series of interview transcription snippets that flow in a chronological order. Highly recommend to anyone interested in tech.
Oliver Thylmann
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book, will take some time to finish but something different and something to just quickly read a chapter and then put it down and read the next later.
Philip Joubert
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tech-history
An oral history of Silicon Valley, as told by the people who were there? Count me in baby! This book is fucking awesome.

This book is unique in its presentation as it largely just consists of different people telling stories about the various legendary companies that make up Silicon Valley legend. What makes that so great is that you really get a feel for how things were really. For instance, Dealers of Lightning, the definitive history of Xerox PARC, reads entirely different after realizing fro
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Vladimir Slaykovsky
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books about the history of Silicon Valley startups.
Rene Bard
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I've never read a non-fiction book like this one. It is mostly dialogue that has been spliced together from tech interviews with over 200 experts who worked in and reported on the rise of Silicon Valley as it became one of the greatest tech centers in the world. At first I had my doubts about whether the author's idea to cut-and-paste words would work; obviously, one would have to be very careful not to quote people out of context. Also, done poorly, the end result could be very dull. But to Fis ...more
Daniel Olshansky
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Valley Of Genius

My friend’s description of this book is quite accurate: “A collage of quotes of famous people”. It takes a bit of time to get used to the style of “writing” in this book, but eventually you get accustomed to it. It is targeted at individuals who enjoy listening to interviews of CEOs of various tech companies, but covers a lot more history and depth than you’d be able to get anywhere else.

The audiobook is almost 20 hours long, but covers everything from the personal computing rev
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Todd Stockslager
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Review title: Working for Silicon Valley

This is an oral history of Silicon Valley following the model adopted by Studs Terkel, and like his great books on working, the Depression, and World War II, applies this deceptively simple approach to telling a complex story. Like those earlier Terkel classics, the technique works best to uncover the hidden nuances in and about the history we think we already know by using the words of the people who really do know because they were there and made the his
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EMMANUEL
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is very helpful of understanding the progressive history of the Tech industry. What is a serious issue that I've obtained in insight from this book, is that the progression of the Tech industry is much slower than the industry is made to be developed into.

It is simple enough to understand that the tech industry is beyond "flamboyant" when it comes to marketing their "prestige". The tech industry is notorious on "capitalizing" on the "ignorance" of the everyday person, who doesn't unde
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Grace Lam
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely was not expecting this kind of reading experience when I picked up the book! This is just an innovative, powerful, and mind-blowing way of retelling the familiar tales of Silicon Valley. It is almost like a documentary transcript - each chapter tells the story of a legendary milestone, from the founding of Atari, to the first Apple computer, to the story of Netscape, Napster, eBay, Twitter, Facebook, and more. We all know bits and pieces of these stories, but it is quite something to ...more
Maynard Handley
Aug 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Much better than I expected!
I'm not a fan of oral history and the whole Studs Terkel thing; I have little patience for the rambling, disorganized nature of most speech. But the author of this book gives himself too little credit; he did a remarkably good job of reorganizing the shapeless mess that is a pile of conversations into this stream of quotes that tells the story. It's a stunt, but it's a stunt done well!

Is it accurate? I think so, by my recollections and experiences anyway. (I was at Ap
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Quinton Baran
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book, with a novel presentation - each chapter is almost entirely direct quotes from interviews, both from other sources and that the author conducted. It includes many of the prime players in the computer industry in Silicon Valley, starting in the 1960's and proceeding to the late 2000's.

The quotes are arranged in a conversational mode, where a quote is made, and then someone else "responds" to the quote. I bookmarked the back section, which has an alphabetical (by last
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Les Abernathy
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Oral history books might sound like an easy book to write. Lazily copying and pasting the interviews into a readable format. However, once you dive into the final product, it becomes less clear as to the level of difficulty that was involved. The writer obviously has to interview someone. Just type out a transcript of an important person and call it a day. Though this book doesn't interview someone. It interviews everyone. Think of a name that's important to the history of Silicon Valley, and he ...more
Peter Sidell
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book reminds me of watching a Ken Burns documentary. It tells the story by jumping back and forth from narrator to narrator as of they were in conversation. The continuity expresses the history.
The book is about what could be called the human side of the foundation of 'geek' technology. Unlike prior telling of this story the technology itself is deemphasized, and the narrative is nonlinear.
Reading it conveys a sense of having been there. I am an older guy from a different part of
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Andrew Tollemache
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved the format and structure of this book. Adam Fisher's "Valley of Genius" seeks to take a number of pivotal events in the history of technology and Silicon Valley and has each of event told from the POV of the 10-20 people who might have been involved. Based upon years of interviews with the people present at each phase or chapter Fisher has the input of numerous SV luminaries like Jobs and Wozniak, Bill Gates, Nolan Bushnell, Doug Englebart and Stewart Brand. He also has the recollections ...more
Frank
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have been working in the tech industry for almost 2 years now, and before reading this book, I never really thought about learning the history of how the tech industry, specifically the history of silicon valley, came to be. In college, my peers and I studied computer science, programming late into the night, attended hackathons, studied coding interviews together, but we never talked about the history of technology, nor did we discuss its present and future.

In order to understand where this
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Max Metral
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I almost put this book down after the first couple chapters. It is the ultimate Silicon Valley navel gazing. Everything was invented there (it wasn't), all their failures were just great ideas too early (they weren't), and nothing was going on in Seattle or Boston or New York or the rest of the damn world that had any real impact on the technology revolution. There is a good deal of this book that seems completely oblivious to how little any one person, place or event can lay claim to even the s ...more
A.M. Pfeffer
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Punctuated by the dozen or so monumental companies (Atari, Google, Apple, Twitter, etc) throughout the history of Silicon Valley, the book is really a winner by way of hidden gems coming from some incredibly bright minds. The dynamic perspectives about graphical interfaces, and The Well, and who Steve Jobs really was at three different times in his life, and why tehcnology has only come so far since computers were first introduced, and how media like HotWired shaped the valley, and how it's a pl ...more
Brian
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Valley of Genius is a history of Silicon Valley based on the people who made it. Since the work was based on interviews, I expected that it would read as actual interviews, where the dialog exists between the author and the "genius". Instead, the author was removed from the chapters and instead the entire text consisted of the different participants being quoted. This writing style took sometime to accept. Initially, I wanted to know exactly who each person was and their role in the narration, w ...more
Todd Benschneider
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one long book, almost 19 hours in audible format.
I would recommend reading it rather than the audio format.
The book is made up of hundreds of historical people commenting on particular events, often these comments are only a single sentence, so in the audio book format the commentary doesnt flow well, I almost gave up on it in the first hour, but by the end I had adapted to it and was able to envision the conversations.

I think anyone born after 1990 would benefit most from this book,
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Cristobal
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have a hard time when people say "there can only be one Silicon Valley," but after reading this book there is no point of making a counter argument. There are several reasons why Silicon Valley came to be and which are impossible to repeat. The Valley is a sort of perpetual motion machine that builds upon its own success: research gives way to viable businesses that generate wealth and such wealth and knowledge is reinvested into the ecosystem. Of course, there will be other technology hubs ar ...more
Kursad Albayraktaroglu
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: entrepreneurship
This is an absolutely great book on the history of the personal computer revolution starting with Atari in the 1970s to the present. It would be somewhat misleading to portray it as a history of Silicon Valley - one needs to go all the way back to the genesis of Hewlett-Packard and Fred Terman at Stanford for that.

The book is based on interviews with many historical (and some not-so-historical) figures and presented in a conversational style, as if all of those people were sitting around a ta
...more
Joshua Bradley
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Culled from hundreds of interviews and other sources, Fisher collated everything into a topical, somewhat mythical tale of the rise of Silicon Valley. The book starts out feeling like being at dinner with the people who created the computer industry but begins to feel like a 400 page Twitter feed by the time you reach the dawn of the Internet. Ultimately, what makes Valley of Genius a great book is also what makes your head hurt a bit.

The approach of snippeting an entire book seems somewhat man
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Anthony Eales
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent look at the uncensored history of Silicon Valley as told by those who were there. Covers many different tech companies and cultures. From Atari to Twitter. And a fair portion dedicated to Wired Magazine. It was great hearing about how the people started with nothing but an idea and became titans of Silicon Valley and the world as well.

Has an interesting format. A small description by the author at the start of each chapter to set things up and it just has quotes from the people involve
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