The only contemporary history of the birth of Silicon Valley, from the reporter who had a ringside seat to it all.
Over the past five decades, the tech industry has grown into one of the most important sectors of the global economy. Silicon Valley―replete with sprawling office parks, sky-high rents, and countless self-made millionaires―is home to many of its key players. But the origins of Silicon Valley and the tech sector are much humbler. At a time when tech companies’ influence continues to grow, The Big Score chronicles how they began.
One of the first reporters on the tech industry beat at the San Jose Mercury-News, Michael S. Malone recounts the feverish efforts of young technologists and entrepreneurs to build something that would change the world―and score them a big payday. Starting with the birth of Hewlett-Packard in the 1930s, Malone illustrates how decades of technological innovation laid the foundation for the meteoric rise of the Valley in the 1970s. Drawing on exclusive, unvarnished interviews, Malone punctuates this history with incisive profiles of tech’s early luminaries―including Nobelist William Shockley and Apple’s Steve Jobs―when they were struggling entrepreneurs working 18-hour days in their garages. And he plunges us into the darker side of the Valley, where espionage, drugs, hellish working conditions, and shocking betrayals shaped the paths for winners and losers in a booming industry.
A decades-long story with individual sacrifice, ingenuity, and big money at its core, The Big Score recounts the history of today’s most dynamic sector through its upstart beginnings.
Michael S. Malone has covered Silicon Valley and tech for over 30 years. His articles and editorials have appeared in the San Jose Mercury-News, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Fortune, and the New York Times. He has written or coauthored more than 25 award-winning books, including Bill and Dave and The Intel Trinity, and co-produced The New Heroes, an Emmy-nominated miniseries on social entrepreneurs. He lives in California.
Silicon Valley began its long march to global dominance, one writer was
there to record it all--from the tiniest etchings on silicon wafers to
the galaxy sized egos that built Apple, Intel, Google and others--and
that writer, Mike Malone, turned it into a saga for the ages. He’s been
called Silicon Valley’s Boswell, but I think Cecille B. DeMille captures
Malone’s epic storytelling power." ―Rich Karlgaard, former Forbes publisher
"The Big Score
is the definitive chronicle of Silicon Valley’s origins, vividly
brought to life by native son Mike Malone. The relentless cycles of
invention and reinvention that have defined Silicon Valley for over a
century suggest that little is permanent, yet the lessons of its genesis
are timeless. In laying bare this dramatic history, Mike helps us
understand why Silicon Valley ultimately transcended its geography and
inspired the best and brightest to defy the limits of human ingenuity,
wherever they are." ―Kim Polese, chairman, CrowdSmart
"Mike Malone is the gold standard for telling Silicon Valley’s history.
He has witnessed the evolution of the Valley from fruit groves to
office parks and has cataloged the world’s dependency on the Valley’s
innovative technology. Experience the growth of Silicon Valley through
the eyes of a pioneer, friend, reporter, and mentor to so many of us
early Valley entrepreneurs." ―Sandy Kurtzig, founder, CEO, and chairman of the ASK Group
Malone’s epic depiction of Silicon Valley was a calling card for me and
countless other young entrepreneurs with a background in tech. Malone’s
stories captured the essence of Valley culture and the many outsized
personalities who helped create this mecca of tech. Years later, this
book is still relevant and offers insights into the Valley and its
ongoing place in the world." ―Jeff Skoll, first president of eBay
“Since 1985, when The Big Score
was originally published, the dominant and seemingly enduring companies
it documented have mostly fallen by the wayside, and the overall
technological landscape is wildly different. And so, while The Big Score
continues to exist as an encyclopedic and highly entertaining record of
Silicon Valley’s origins, it also provides a glimpse of what’s to come.
Nothing ever changes in Silicon Valley, it implicitly testifies, and
nothing ever stays the same.” ―Reid Hoffman, partner at Greylock and co-author of Blitzscaling
"From its discussion of the Valley's deep roots in the semiconductor
industry, to the rise of start-ups, venture capital, and the emergence
of new models of management, The Big Score
documents the beginnings of a technological transformation. When the
book was first published, the microprocessor was kickstaring the
computer industry. Today, our greatest innovators continue to build on
the work of these early pioneers." ―John Hennessy, president emeritus of Stanford University and chairman, Alphabet Inc.
"This is a captivating contemporary history of the pre-internet
computer industry. Now, 36 years later, it is a fascinating time capsule
chronicling the roots of an explosion that is about to occur. Malone's
refreshingly honest new foreword, describing retrospectively what he did
and didn't get right, is by itself worth the price of admission." ―Len Shustek, founding chairman, Computer History Museum
"The Big Score
covers the people and companies that shaped many aspects of early
Silicon Valley--people from humble beginnings who took huge risks to
accomplish great things while dealing with their own fallibility. This
book captures the can-do maker-spirit of the early tech industry and
gives us a unique view into a key moment in time." ―Elad Gil, author of High Growth Handbook
"The story of Silicon Valley and the digital transformation underway in
every facet of our lives can be told from a thousand different vantage
points. Read this book to learn that the essential element in the story
may not, in fact, be silicon, but rather the people who made it." ―Dan'l Lewin, president and CEO, Computer History Museum
"What’s remarkable about The Big Score?
It’s truly the first, and by far the best, panoramic history of the
Valley’s founding. But more than that, it shows the emergence of Mike
Malone as the conscience of Silicon Valley, something the Valley needs
now more than ever." ―Ed Clendaniel, editorial page editor, San Jose Mercury-News