Cover Image: Valley of Genius

Valley of Genius

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

It was a bit hard to get into this book but once I got about 30% in I was hooked. It was a great read that gives a history of Silicon Valley and the technology that surrounds it. Before I got into the book I was impressed with the way it was written and the side points it mentioned and I convinced my husband to buy a copy (he prefers hardcopy) and he’s reading it too. Definitely a book you should read if you’re interested in the tech, the companies, the people, and/or the location.
Was this review helpful?
“Valley of Genius” is an oral history of some of the biggest names that we know (and don’t know) that created Silicon Valley. 

Did you play Atari video games? Learn to write papers on an Apple II personal computer? Launch a Netscape web browser to send your Yahoo email? Start using Google as a verb and then proceed to donate your dictionaries and encyclopedias? Use Facebook to find a zillion high school and college friends? And buy or sell crap from your closet on eBay? 

If so, this book is for you!

Drawing on over two hundred in-depth interviews, Adam Fisher isn’t really an author as much as he is an editor. A genius one at that. 

Thankfully, he knows how to tell an amazing story. Because I was hooked on this book for the three days it took to finish it. I now feel like I am one of the tech industry insiders. 

Adam figured out how to get people to talk (I mean, really talk). And he put all the nitty gritty into some semblance of order so that it tells the timeline of how Silicon Valley came to be.

This book is chock-full of the who’s who in Silicon Valley, plus all the names of folks who made them look good: Steve Jobs (Apple, Pixar); Nolan Bushnell (Atari); Zuckerberg (Facebook), Larry Page (Google); Jim Levy (Activision); Bruce Horn (Xerox PARC, Apple); (eBay); John Giannandrea (Silicon Graphics, General Magic, Netscape, Google); Bob Taylor (Xerox Parc); Doug Engelbart (Stanford Research Institute); Jack Dorsey (Twitter); Jim Clark (SGI, Netscape); Heather Cairns (Google); Stewart Brand (Whole Earth Catalog); Patty Beron (; John and Michelle Battelle (Wired); Marc Andreessen (Mosaic, Netscape); Ev Williams (Blogger, Twitter); Pierre Morad Omidyar (General Magic, eBay); Shawn Fanning (Napster), and so many more!

“Valley of Genius” covers a lot of ground. While I was reading, it sure felt like a long book. But it needed to be in order to explain how we got from the launch of the PC to the internet to the iPhone and virtual reality. “It interweaves accounts of invention and betrayal, overnight success and underground exploits, to tell the story of Silicon Valley like it has never been told before.” 

I highly recommend this book to engineers, marketing folks, early adopters and entrepreneurs.
Was this review helpful?
I was given access to this book free and early for a honest review.  I found the book odd as it was written in quotes and statements.  I thought I would be able to get in and look at it in a different way.  I struggled to keep at it and found myself skimming through most of it.
Was this review helpful?
Good information and stories, but I thought it would cover more about Silicon Valley. I expected a bit more. Not a bad read, just not as good as I had hoped.
Was this review helpful?
We’ve heard countless stories of the birth of Silicon Valley and the companies that created it. Though even interviews with those that helped make it happen often lack detail. For the inside stories and most complete history, you need to check out Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom).

Many have told these stories before, but no single source has put together so many of the members that helped create the technology we know today, as in Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom) by Adam Fisher.

It’s really three books in one. The first focuses on those that created the computers, on which the others would build.

The start of Atari, Zerox PARC, and Apple, along with the challenges each faced.

To hear Steve Jobs, Wozniak, Ted Dabney, Nolan Bushnell, Alan Kay, and others own words and personal insight, is amazing. They offer detail never heard in other accounts of the birth of the computer revolution.
Book Two turns the focus to the hackers that created Wired, Pixar, Netscape, Suck, and later made hacker culture more mainstream.

The third book looks at the network effect and how it built eBay, Google, Napster, and more. The return of Steve Jobs with Apple reborn, along with the birth of Facebook and Twitter.

Using a unique style of interview, Valley of Genius pastes together stories of the creation of Silicon Valley and the companies that now rule it. It’s as if you’re sitting in a room with tech legends, listening to them converse and tell the stories from an insider perspective. Each interjecting their own insight and piece of the story to tell a complete picture. You won’t find this level of detail anywhere else.

It’s fascinating to hear more than just the success stories typically printed in the media. You get an education on the chaos, the struggles, the failures, and the infighting that happened within these young companies.
Intimate Insight

The companies that created Silicon Valley have changed the world. They’ve built the technology we use everyday and continue to create the future moving forward. Valley of Genius is an intimate look at the amazing innovators who dared to dream big and made their mark on humanity as a whole.

Grab a copy of Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom) on Amazon now and immerse yourself in the storied history of our tech world.
Was this review helpful?
At over 500 pages, this book is an oral history of the most infamous stories about Silicon Valley and the companies that were grown there straight from the horse's mouth. Love them or hate them, besides a brief intro paragraph, each line of the book is a direct quote from some of the most influential and successful innovators like Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Larry Page, detailing monumental moments in Silicon Valley from Twitter, Napster, hacking culture, eBay, Google, the era, and more. A very interesting, thorough read

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.
Was this review helpful?
This is my most recent thirty years experienced in the PC technology industry in just about one book. From the magazines we read, through the video games, music, authors, PCs, events and all the stuff around the industry  this author does a terrific job of packing much of  it in.  The format draws you through as the discussion is led by quotes and conversations with exactly these hackers, freaks and founders. I found this very hard to put down as it fills in gaps as well helps explain where many of these people came from, what they did, are doing and went.  If you are at all curious as to how this whole industry grew to where it is, read this book.  Great for a cross country flight.
Was this review helpful?
Great book about Silicon Valley that is told via quotes from those that were there.  I loved the juicy tidbits that were disclosed and learned a lot more about Silicon Valley. Great read!
Was this review helpful?
Having lived near Silicon Valley since 1980 and having been at or near the bleeding edge of much of its technology, I applaud Fisher for this amazing oral history of the Valley and the industry it has spawned.  Unlike some books it does not ignore the hard-working folks who built these companies in favor of a picture of an amoral and hedonistic culture (a very one-sided view). It also does not ignore or discount the utopian ideas of many of the early computer people as this year's Surveillance Valley did.

What it does is present this world as pictured by and recounted by its founders. While the  military/government connections are pretty much ignored, so is the semi-conductor industry. You also won't find much about important computer companies such as Sun, H-P, or Compaq. The Internet hardware industry, as represented by Cisco, is completely ignored.

Instead Fisher focuses on a few important companies: Atari, Apple, Google, Facebook, and a few others, devoting one or more chapters to each. Because he deftly weaves comments from many principles in each company, you really get an inside look at what  happened in each.

It's great, and interesting. But it is also incomplete. What's missing is an overall history, but most importantly, the book needs a conclusion.

It isn't enough just to say the story of Steve Jobs is the story of Silicon Valley. We need more than a final chapter about his illness, death, and memorial service. We need to know why he was emblematic. It isn't enough to give us the ideas about the future from the folks already in the book; I'd like to know what Fisher thinks and what he has learned.

it's an amazing start, a great foundation.
Was this review helpful?
By far my favorite Silicon Valley history for a long time! The highly edited oral history approach Adam Fisher uses gets much closer to the truth than other extended narratives, I believe. Valley of Genius is an entertaining education to read.
Was this review helpful?
Gossipy and granular oral history of Silicon Valley's rise to tech megapolis. Fun reading for those interested in 21st century history and technology, and anyone who has a smartphone and/or enjoys Silicon Valley the TV series.
Was this review helpful?