Friday, July 25, 2014

Valley historians -- Mike Malone at it again

Mike Malone, well known Silicon Valley author, has just released his book about Andy Grove, Bob Noyce, and Gordon Moore, the trio who created the modern Intel.  He calls it The Intel Trinity, likening them to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in  a semi-religious way.  He was interviewed yesterday at the Computer History Museum by Scott Budman, also a legendary Silicon Valley guy.

It was a brown bag luncheon, and the room was chock full of old Intel and other semiconductor folk. Mike polled the group--how many have been in semi's for twenty thirty, forty, even fifty years.  Most of them had hands in the air for quite a while.

Mike is a keen observer of the scene--has been for forty+ years in the Valley, with twenty books to his credit as well as tremendous journalistic skills.  He is a fascinating speaker, wry and witty and very timely with trenchant observations.

He also is an unabashed enthusiast for his topics, almost always, which sometimes clouds the reality but hardly ever in a way that causes much discomfort except for those purists who prefer accuracy in their history.  He did a credible job for this crowd, winning applause for his characterizations of Noyce especially as the successor "mayor of Silicon Valley' after Dave Packard.  Apt.

In fact, he did a great job yesterday about including Dave and HP as a major driver of Silicon Valley--he just cannot help himself, he bleeds Valley Blue, whether from HP or Intel or cisco or Apple (clearly he left Oracle out, by choice).

You may all recall that Mike wrote "Biil 'n Dave" in 2007.  He knew that our book was underway, in fact HP (a Compaq PR whiner) invited him to 'compete' with us after the Carly dust-up.   He generated the idea for the HP Origins CD, a wonderful little thing that is now available on YouTube for the interested viewer.  I was worried at the time because Mike too had been at HP for years, and is a gifted writer--we feared his book would render our efforts futile.  He met me though and said, "I'm writing about Dave and Bill, not the strategic history of HP. Our books will be complementary to each other--don't worry!"

He of course was right.  The pair of books augment Packard's own laconic version, and I think it was great that we all did the work.

I had somewhat the same feeling yesterday.  The book is a great paean to the three Intel folk--all of whom I got to know, fortuitously.  Noyce was long dead when I joined Intel, but I'd known him early. And, seriously, we've thought about doing an Intel book--for all the work that has been done, it is astonishing to me how some very important details, especially re the intersection of HP and Intel for years, have been ignored or glossed.

At one level, I'd hoped he'd have those elements in this book.  But, on reflection, how could he?  He's a journalist, not an engineer and not a historian, and not a C-level executive.  So his view is from his perspective rather than those I might take.  Much like Walt Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs (almost universally lauded unless you knew the Apple story up close), Mike's leaves much room for others--maybe we'll add our version at some future date.

Meanwhile, this is terrific reading.  Buy it for a cross-country plane ride.  And send Mike a note, telling him THANKS for keeping all the Valley legends alive.

2 comments:

Me said...

Another book I'll have to buy...

Mike Malone is a great author and I enjoyed Bill and Dave a great deal (and gave away a few copies...as I did for The HP Phenomenon). He's also written about Eagle Scouts (...which I am one -- The Four Percent) and the seedy, early days of the Silicon Valley tech industry (The Big Score...now out of print). His collection of columns The Valley of Heart's Delight: A Silicon Valley Diary 1963-2001 is particularly wonderful...ordinary life in the world's high-tech capital.

I've enjoyed his work for many, many years (since I discovered his interview program on KTEH long ago). I hope the Silicon Valley community appreciates a chronicler of this caliber who is one of them.

As for your next book(s) -- why not collaborate with Mike and produce the definitive work on the 8 'Fairchildren'... Just a thought :-)

-- sw

Me said...

We now have the story of Intel and it's 3 founders to add to the Silicon Valley canon. Here's an idea, Chuck... How about the definitive story of the "Traitorous 8". You can leave out Noyce and Moore and refer readers to Malone's new book.

However the remaining 6 -- C. Sheldon Roberts, Eugene Kleiner, Victor Grinich, Julius Blank, Jean Hoerni and Jay Last -- undoubtedly have stories to tell.

If that doesn't interest you, focus on Kleiner and Perkins and to a book about their premier VC firm.

-- sw