The early years
Until the late 1970s, the computer was viewed as a massive machine that was useful to big business and big government but not to the general public. Computers were too cumbersome and expensive for private use and most people were intimidated by them. As technology advanced, this was changed by a distinctive group of engineers and entrepreneurs who rushed to improve the designs of current technology and to find ways to make the computer attractive to more people. Although these innovators of computer technology were very different from each other, they had a common enthusiasm for technical innovation and the capacity to foresee the potential of computers. This was a very competitive and stressful time, and the only people who succeeded were the ones who were able to combine extraordinary engineering expertise with progressive business skills and an ability to foresee the needs of the future. Much of this activity was centered in the Silicon Valley in northern California where the first computer-related company had located in 1955. That company attracted thousands of related businesses, and the area became known as the technological capital of the world. Between 1981 and 1986, more than 1000 new technology-oriented businesses started there. At the busiest times, five or more, new companies started in a single week. The Silicon Valley attracted many risk-takers and gave them an opportunity to thrive in an atmosphere where creativity was expected and rewarded. Computer technology has opened a variety of opportunities for people who are creative risk-takers. They have known when to use the help of other people and when to work alone. Whereas some have been immediately successful, others have gone unrewarded for their creative and financial investments; some failure is inevitable in an competitive environment. Rarely in history have so many people been so motivated to create. Many of them have been rewarded greatly with fame and...
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