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I love the wonderful PBS series "The American Experience" and look forward to seeing all of their documentaries. However, I also realize that it's not exactly the sort of thing the average viewer wants to see. Being a retired history teacher, it's natural that I like this sort of stuff. Whether you do or not, well, that's another story. The same sort of thing would definitely be true about this particular episode. Learning about technology and the history of Silicon Valley interests me--but would this be true for most people? Probably not. But, if you are willing to try the program, you might just be surprised that you not only learn but enjoy it as well. This is because like other shows in the series, it's very well written and produced. My only complaint about this show is that I loved the information about the early days of Silicon Valley but the show seemed to jump from the early to mid-1960s to the present time awfully quickly. In other words, I might have actually wanted MORE!
Silicon Valley, the high-tech hotspot in Northern California, is an innovation-driven development center that never stops looking forward to the future. As a result, the sector's storied saga tends to get overshadowed by excitement over the next big thing. PBS's consistently impressive history series, "American Experience," points the spotlight in the other direction for an overdue look back, more than half a century, to the roots of modern startup culture. The program does an excellent job of tracing the events and innovations that laid the foundation for the information technology we enjoy today. The narrative is fittingly framed around the career of Robert Noyce, a brilliant physicist who co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and gave the reigning tech titan, Texas Instruments, a run for its money. His company pioneered the use of silicon as a semiconductor in transistors, and then parlayed those innovations into an inspired design for the integrated circuit. The application of that element in microchips caused the former orchard region, then known as the "Valley of Heart's Delight," to be redubbed "Silicon Valley." At the end of the 1960s, Noyce left Fairchild to co-found Intel, arguably the template for modern tech-driven companies like Apple and Google. Their introduction of the microprocessor in 1971 kick-started the digital age. Just as the microchip took the capacity of multiple transistors and shrunk them down, the microprocessor combined multiple integrated circuits and housed them on a single processor chip. What came after that is much more familiar to us these days, since they're used in everything from laptop computers and smartphones to microwave ovens and children's toys. For those wanting a better understanding of what led to modern computing (and the dotcom business culture), this program provides a great history lesson of the pre-PC era.
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