Tags: Menuez | Jobs | computer | photo

Photographer Menuez Documents Rise of Silicon Valley

By    |   Thursday, 14 Aug 2014 07:55 AM

Photo journalist Doug Menuez documented through photographs the rise of the Silicon Valley between 1985 and 2000, and he presented his collection in a book titled Fearless Genius: The Digital Revolution in Silicon Valley 1985-2000 to an audience of several hundred at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

John Hollar, CEO of the museum, hosted the program, which was sponsored by Micron Technologies.

Hollar explained that Menuez had met Steve Jobs in 1985 as Jobs was returning to Apple after a hiatus to begin the next chapter of his career, which he called NeXt. Jobs gave Menuez unlimited access to document his work, and this, in turn, opened other doors for Menuez, allowing him to photograph more than 70 leading companies in the Valley. Menuez took the project up to 2000, when the dot-com bomb collapsed and the nation was threatened by the curse of Y2K (remember that?). In those 15 years, Menuez generated 250,000 images, now housed at Stanford Library, and 50 of the most carefully curated images were placed on display at the museum for a show slated to run into September.

Menuez took the audience back "to a simpler place and time," before Al Gore invented the Internet, when people communicated through beepers and fax machines. (It is said that Thomas Jefferson invented an early version of the fax machine.) A "secret tribe of engineers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists" came together to create "this explosion of innovation that rocked our world," creating millions of jobs and untold wealth.

He warned that the industry has evolved to a point where it suffers from a shortage of engineers and a short-term orientation marked by a reluctance to make funding available for the toughest technological challenges.

In a remarkable view for a photographer, Menuez challenged his audience to think about whether "we're really as innovative as we think we are — or were." Menuez recounted a conversation with Jobs as he was struggling to recast his work during a 10-year period after he was ousted from Apple. Jobs was working on a prototype of a computer that would house the power of a mainframe in a 1-foot cube. Menuez asked Jobs what he was trying to do, and Jobs replied that he wanted to enable some student "to cure cancer in his dorm room."

Jobs envisioned a factory that would house a robotic assembly line that would produce 10,000 computers a month, and he convinced Ross Perot to contribute $6 million. Menuez told of Jobs asking the engineers to work nights and weekends until Christmas and then take a week off, and one of the engineers piped up and said, "We're already working nights and weekends."

Menuez recognized a woman named Susan Kare, a graphics designer, as the "mother of the Mac" who invented many of the icons and other features of the Apple that affect millions of people daily and was one of the original employees of NeXt.

This writer resisted the Mac "cult"-ure from the outset in favor of the "open source" movement led by IBM, Intel and, unfortunately, Microsoft. This is still a developing story that has many fascinating characters and a lot of concept and companies that were left behind. It's a fascinating story, and readers are fortunate to have people like Doug Menuez who are dedicated to telling it.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
Photo journalist Doug Menuez documented through photographs the rise of the Silicon Valley between 1985 and 2000, and he presented his collection in a book titled Fearless Genius: The Digital Revolution in Silicon Valley 1985-2000 to an audience of several hundred at the Computer History Museum.
Menuez, Jobs, computer, photo
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2014-55-14
Thursday, 14 Aug 2014 07:55 AM
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