Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Great Turnout for the 2007 Fellow Awards - Celebrating the Stories of the Information Age

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 17, 2007

Silicon Valley hasn't been a good curator of its history. It generally keeps its head down trying to exploit the next disruptive technology cycle. It is only fairly recently that there was even a Computer History Museum.

This is changing and there is a growing recognition that we have some giants among us. Tuesday the Computer History Museum hosted the 2007 Fellow Awards in a sold out event that was also a fund raiser.

The awards were presented to: Morris Chang, John Hennessy, David A. Patterson and Charles Thacker. All of them helped create massive amounts of innovation.

The awards also recognize the contributions to Silicon Valley of Stanford University and University of California at Berkeley, arguably the best private university and the best public university in the US.

Morris Chang helped create the fabless chip industry. And in doing so, he created a massive innovation platform by enabling small bands of chip designers to buy production time as they needed it. Chip companies no longer needed to own and maintain hugely expensive chip fabs. Without the fabless chip industry we would not have had the incredible advances in consumer electronics and in the PC industry.

John Hennessy helped develop the RISC microprocessor, whose features are found in all modern microprocessors. As President of Stanford University, he has made huge contributions to education, and the creation of a student body that has gone on to found many of Silicon Valley's largest companies. And his work has helped generate huge licensing revenue for the university.

David Patterson made important contributions to microprocessor design and RAID data storage technologies. As head of Computer Science at the University of California at Berkeley, he has helped educate generations of computer engineers.

Charles Thacker helped create the personal computer. His work at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center led to the Alto, the machine that inspired Apple Computer and featured a windows graphical user interface. He co-developed Ethernet and also the laser printer. His wife Karen coined the term "what you see is what you get" to describe the ability of laser printers to print an accurate display of a computer screen.

I will have video of the event from TechOne published shortly.

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It would have been great if there had been a table or two set aside for local high school kids at the event. Computer history has to connect with our younger generations. The Tech Museum of Innovation, just a few miles away, does a tremendous amount of work with local schools.

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About the Computer History Museum

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The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with a 25-year history as part of the former Boston Computer Museum. CHM preserves and presents the artifacts and stories of the information age and is dedicated to exploring the social impact of computing.

CHM’s diverse collection of computing-related artifacts is the largest and most significant in the world. CHM brings computing history to life through an acclaimed speaker series, dynamic website, and onsite tours and exhibits. Current exhibits include “Mastering The Game: A History of Computer Chess,” “Innovation in the Valley,” and “Visible Storage,” featuring 600 key objects from the collection.

A signature “Timeline of Computing History” exhibit will open in October 2009. For open hours and more information, visit: computerhistory.org or call +1 650.810.1010. Admission is free.

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