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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)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,094 ratings  ·  161 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 4.11  · 
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 ·  1,094 ratings  ·  161 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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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.
Thomas Dietert
Jul 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An awesomely inspiring book for those who are interested in the history and contemporary heartbeat of the valley. I would highly recommend this book to anyone in tech, and will likely read it again in the coming years. Full of candid commentary on the valley’s most notorious and iconic characters, companies, and products, Valley of Geniuses presents a raw and authentic view into the heart of the valley over the past 4 decades. If you want a good characterization of how software exploded onto the ...more
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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Aaron Calvert
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Fisher's work is too much of a hagiography rather than a thoughtful analysis. It only focuses on the founders rather than the people who work in these companies and the people who live in the valley who have been displaced by the expansion of the tech giants. ...more
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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David Schwan
Jun 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An interesting history of Silicon Valley. Like most modern books about Silicon Valley this one too is less silicon and more software (my job deals with the design of chips). The author conducted a bunch of interviews (and where missing used older published interviews) and cut up the pieces to create in essence a dialog about the subject of each chapter. While much of what is presented was already known to me, there were still many pleasant surprises.
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.
Valdeci Gomes
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I already read some big tech guys' biographies like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and I like to read and try to understand more about the history of these tech geniuses.

It is not a normal biography or history book, it is more about the guys who created everything giving their point of view, which makes the book much more interesting.

So, in this way, I loved this book. It is funny to understand how everything related to transistors and the internet started in Silicon Valley, from mouse and
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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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Matt Cannon
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very detailed book about the history of Silicon Valley. It went back to the early pioneer days talking about some of the original companies, all the way to current companies, talking about Steve Jobs and Apple from beginning to current, Facebook, etc. I enjoyed the behind the scenes stories such as the painter who painted murals at Facebook HQ for shares (a very good decision and return on his investment) and how much Steve Jobs loathed the “Lisa” named device and how the world famous ...more
Vlad
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really a great read. Love the approach of telling the story through quotes -- some of the quote sequences are devious and clever, especially the sequences where people contradict each other. Some juicy bits, some profound bits, and and also some mundane detail that probably coulda/shoulda been edited out. Overall, a really nice read in SV history.

Wendy Bockholt
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
I struggled to finish this book. Although it claims to be the history of Silicon Valley, having grown up here it seemed to be missing huge chunks of information. Why so little discussion of the importance of silicon chip manufacturers? Why minimal references to Yahoo, AOL, HP...Interesting tidbits but a “History of Silicon Valley” this was not.
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
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
Jill Reads
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Valley of Genius” is an oral history of some of the biggest names that we know (and don’t know) who created Silicon Valley.

Did you play Atari video games? Learn to write papers on an Apple II personal computer? Launch a Netscape web browser to send your Yahoo email? Start using Google as a verb and then proceed to donate your dictionaries and encyclopedias? Use Facebook to reconnect with your high school and college friends? And buy or sell crap from your closet on eBay?

If so, this book is fo
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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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Lily
Mar 08, 2022 rated it it was ok
I didn't finish this, as it was quite lengthy and somewhat boring, and it was due at the library. I may check it out again in the future. The back of the book is most informative as it lists all of the "players" alphabetically who basically formed the Silicon Valley. Another section in the back lists the references for the deceased people quoted in the text.
The format is highlighted names and quotes from them. It basically begins with who made breakthroughs in computer literacy as it pertains
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“Kevin Kelly: So when I think of the future of Silicon Valley I see it as still being the center of the universe as defined by having the least resistance to new ideas, and that’s just its cultural history of being tolerant of wild ideas. Lee Felsenstein: Silicon Valley is a state of mind in a generalized physical area.” 1 likes
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