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The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  154 ratings  ·  26 reviews
The true, behind-the-scenes history of the people who built Silicon Valley and shaped Big Tech in America

Long before Margaret O'Mara became one of our most consequential historians of the American-led digital revolution, she worked in the White House of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the earliest days of the commercial Internet. There she saw firsthand how deeply intertwined
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Hardcover, 512 pages
Published July 9th 2019 by Penguin Press
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Mehrsa
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Super interesting history of the innovators, the politicians, academics, and money guys who built silicon valley. O'Mara is not a biased observer. She does a great job not idolizing the "geniuses" but also not painting them as villains. On the political side, she's very clear that SV is not just a product of the free markets (as Peter Theil might believe), but also not just a product of defense department contracting as others have claimed. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in SV, the ...more
Shawn
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Code is an attempt to cast a far-reaching net to construct a long view perspective on the rise of Silicon Valley as a culture and society in its own right. O'Mara provides a superbly readable and fresh look at an area demonstrably not previously explored in such detail. The depth of research and careful craft involved in parsing such an ambitious scope into an approachable volume is successfully accomplished. Although I found it a slightly longer read than necessary at times, it brought fort ...more
Mark
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a very thorough and commendable history of the rise of Silicon Valley as the center of the computer/tech world. As somewhat of a techie, I found the story interesting, but the narrative is not exactly scintillating. No doubt, she has done her homework, and has written a fine history.
Drtaxsacto
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is an ambitious effort to explain the economic rise and prominence of the Silicon Valley. For the most part the effort pays off. The importance of the Valley to California and to the nation should not be underestimated. California’s personal income tax relies on about 400 taxpayers most of whom live in the area o’Mara is writing about, so this is a story about more than technology. O’Mara’s attempt is to chronicle the history.

At the outset let me make two minuscule gripes - I am big on
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Robin Frankel
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a truly enjoyable read, although probably not for everyone. It is the history of the tech industry over seven decades and it held my interest from the very first page.
Bookworm
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
From Apple to Facebook, the Silicon Valley has come to dominate our lives in ways that perhaps not everyone understands, either from the SV's humble beginnings to the powerhouse of a region it is today. Author O'Mara took us through the very humble beginnings to the modern day, looking at some of the dominant players, some lesser known (or unknown!) names, its role in history, the role of history had on SV and more.

It was interesting. It helped put a lot of information in context, fr
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Neil McGee
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read, from government activity in the 50's, Silcon Valley, the politics of the 80's that fueled the internet & dot.com boom, to Apple, Microsoft, Netscale, Yahoo, Google, through Facebook, Twitter, PayPal.

All very interesting..

Glad to have read, glad to have this book to read.

Thank you for publishing.
Patrick Pilz
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read many books on the history of technology and silicon valley. This one was definitely one of the best. It spans the time from the ascent of computing to todays ambitions for driverless autonomous cars. It expands the core story of technology with excursions into the world of government, policy, defense, venture capitalism and entrepreneurialism. It touches on all major events, but does not and cannot provide depths into any of these. But despite all this, it is a fantastic read.
Phil Simon
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a word, wow. This is a remarkably comprehensive, informative, and and well written text.

Over the years, I've read many books on eBay, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other companies mentioned in the book. That is to say that my knowledge base was far from zero when I picked it up. It's now much greater thanks to this excellent and informative tome.

I particularly enjoyed how O'Mara calls out the hypocrisy of Thiel, Perot, McNeeley, and other "libertarians." They claim that they want
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Ross Nelson
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-researched an evenhanded history of the rise of Silicon Valley. As someone who was there for three decades, reading the book triggered lots of memories of people, places, and times and I noted only a few small errors. This isn't a book about technology, if anything, it's more about money. Who provided it, who got it, and what they did with it. It gives lie to the myth of the entrepreneur creating new worlds from scratch by documenting how much of the valley's history was driven by the gov ...more
Madeline Zimmerman
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
The Code is an excellent complement to Walter Isaacson's The Innovators. While Isaacson focuses on the details of the technology produced during the last 60+ years in Silicon Valley, O'Mara does a much needed deep dive on the Valley's defense-centric origins and the critical role federal funding and lobbying played in producing the companies and norms we recognize today. Above all, The Code is a reminder that the Valley did not grow out of a pure free market ideology.
Terry
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Five stars for the first 80% for the deeply researched history. It faded near the end with fairly superficial coverage of the last 5-6 years.
Groucho42
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every 5-10 years I'll pick up a book about the history of high tech or Silicon Valley, partially for nostalgia and partially to see if there's anything new to learn. This book is one of those and, no, I didn't learn any thing new. Also, there are inaccuracies. Still, those problems aren't enough for me to tell folks who still don't know that story to avoid this book. It's very extensive and well written. It's a nice overview for folks reading about the Valley who still don't know much.
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Kevin Whitaker
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, tech-data
A wide-ranging history of Silicon Valley through a number of lenses -- the main historical figures; the impact of government funding, competitive bidding processes, lobbying, and other outside institutions; a little bit on the diversity problem and some people that broke the mold. I enjoyed this a lot but was occasionally confused by the frequent jumps across space and time, and it's a bit dry overall.

Three things I learned:

1. A major factor in developing talent and resources for Silicon Valle
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Jonathan
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tech
An interesting, if relatively uncritical, history of Silicon Valley. McNamara does a stellar job recounting the early years of the Valley’s rise, particularly in emphasizing the outsized role government funding and innovation played in its success. Less remarkable is her analysis of Big Tech’s more recent history. The book is far too credulous in its analysis of the fabulous wealth creation and the problems it has caused. Her descriptions of the supposed great philanthropy projects of the mega r ...more
William Wolfski
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's pretty ironic to see that, Silicon Valley, the symbol of self-made entrepreneurs, came into existence due to massive federal defense funding during the space race era.

Since the 70s, the federal government has been increasing its financial support to universities and private companies for STEM research, mainly due to international economic pressures (first from Japan and later from China). America became the higher education center of the world. And Silicon Valley became the biggest benefac
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Blake
Oct 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
[2.5 stars I'll round to 3] A fine history of Silicon Valley that is clearly well-researched, but just because it is non-fiction that tries to cover too much ground doesn't mean it needs to be painfully drab. Trying to be a complete history means that this book is heavy on details, and light on through-line and "so what" narrative.

It reads like a bunch of Wikipedia articles stapled together. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good facts in here, but the author's contribution here is in the
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Roxanne Russell
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biz
I know much more detail about the Silicon Valley now than I did before I read this book, yet my impressions of the place and its storied history remain the same. O'Mara is a storyteller in style but a methodical historian in pace. She creates vivid pictures of the people, places and times of the Silicon Valley while painstakingly detailing the government policies, government funding, government contracts and business interests that interacted with the region's phenomenal rise. The story is fasci ...more
Les
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent history of Silicon Valley, from the 50s until now. I worked as a programmer in the Valley from 1980 until 2004, and everything the author is quite accurate about everything that was going on in that period. Of course, as a lowly engineer, I wasn't privy to all the high powered machinations that went on in the board rooms and VC offices, but it was a very "closed" environment, and you heard a lot about the big personalities.


Amy Chen
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. It almost feels like information overload for me. It’s like a history book from the angle of tech industry. The rise and fading of different companies reflect the revolution of the society.
It’s such a big book and I feel like I was reading it forever and it never ends. But surely worth reading it (even for a second time if I get a chance!)
Rohit Nallapeta
A good historical perspective of how Silicon valley, wealth, entrepreneurship, diversity challenges, and success all came to be. Lessons from history a must for entrepreneurs who look to create new one's.
Samantha
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Made it 1/3 of the way through and just couldn’t keep going. It’s too bad, because I was really interested in the subject but just found the book way too dry.
Charles E.
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book on the history of the valley that I've read since Saxenian's Regional Advantage
Ken Hamner
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting history of Silicon Valley.
P
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5
Zachary
Best history of Silicon Valley and the information age written thus far.
Ryan Camarena
rated it really liked it
Nov 04, 2019
John
rated it really liked it
Oct 16, 2019
Ritesh
rated it did not like it
Sep 30, 2019
D.j. Meister
rated it it was amazing
Aug 26, 2019
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