2009 Computer History Museum Prize

Christophe Lécuyer, Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970 (MIT Press, 2006)

Prize Citation

Christophe Lécuyer’s Making Silicon Valley is a meticulously researched and carefully crafted study that sheds new light on the archetypical “high tech” region. It provides a deep and balanced re-interpretation of Silicon Valley as a major innovation region though a detailed examination of the region’s history of electronics amateurs, engineering firms, and specialized equipment makers. It addresses the interaction of military and commercial markets, profiling the key firms that emerged beginning in the 1920s in the San Francisco peninsula. By focusing on the diverse networks of innovative firms—including Eitel-McCullough, Litton, Varian, Fairchild,Intersil, National, Intel and other —Lécuyer provides a compelling historical account, one which adds significant insight to the typical focus on Frederick Terman or William Shockley. He fruitfully engages the literature on “industrial districts” and innovation. Ultimately, his story embraces diversity in the types of firms as well as diversity in the culture of the region. Making Silicon Valley will be required reading for scholars in computing history as well as anyone seeking to understand the peculiar chemistry and culture of innovative regions.

2009 Prize Committee

Thomas J. Misa [chair]
Charles Babbage Institute
211 Andersen Library
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Paul E. Ceruzzi
MRC 311
National Air and Space Museum
PO Box 37012
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC 20013-7012

Jennifer S. Light
Northwestern University School of Communication
Frances Searle Building
2240 Campus Drive
Room 2-152
Evanston, IL 60208-2952