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Portraits of Success

Homage to Silicon Valley founders.

Carolyn Caddes‘s book, “Portraits of SuccessImpressions of Silicon Valley Pioneers,” is a photographic tribute to the pioneers of Silicon Valley and a document of historical value. Second-hand versions of this beautiful volume are available on Amazon and I’ve had a copy on my shelf for years.

Caddes‘s images are monochromatic, superbly composed and appositely toned. Her portraits distill the essence of the men (and one woman) who stood at the cradle of the technological revolution that gave birth to Silicon Valley. The engineers, scientists, mathematicians, academics, entrepreneurs, lawyers, venture capitalists, publishers, policy makers – dreamers all – who contributed to fundamental advances in semiconductors, computers, and business practice, nurtured the ecosystem, and transformed a placid valley of orchards by the San Francisco Bay into what it is today: the centre of the Internet universe.

Caddes initiated the project in 1982, accreting her material over 4 years. She writes that her catalogue is neither exhaustive nor complete. Nonetheless, there is no question that every one of her 63 subjects has impacted our digital lives in some form. Each entry is accompanied by a short biographical sketch as well as Caddes‘s own impressions of her encounter with the subject.

I think of this book whenever I hear the infantile boasts of Indians in Silicon Valley and beyond – “We created Silicon Valley! Silicon Valley runs because of us! blah blah…” Where do modern Indians get this hubris? Surely not from the Indic traditions which frown on such self-delusion.

And now, a few examples from the book.

Portraits of Success

Portraits of Success – by Carolyn Caddes
Tioga Publishing Company, Palo Alto, California, 1986

Frederick Terman

“Father of Silicon Valley” – Frederick Terman (1900-1982)
© Carolyn Caddes

Edward Ginzton

Pioneer in Microwave Technology – Edward Ginzton (1915-1998)
© Carolyn Caddes

William Shockley

Co-inventor of the transistor – William Shockley (1910-1989)
© Carolyn Caddes

William Hewlett (1913-2001)

The ‘H’ in HP – Bill Hewlett (1913-2001)
© Carolyn Caddes

Ted Hoff

Inventor of the microprocessor – Ted Hoff
© Carolyn Caddes
(See my post on Dr. Hoff)

Adam Osborne

Computer pioneer – Adam Osborne (1939-2003)
© Carolyn Caddes

William Hambrecht

Venture capitalist – William Hambrecht
© Carolyn Caddes

Sandra Lynn Kurtzig

Entrepreneur – Sandra Lynn Kurtzig
© Carolyn Caddes

Thomas Perkins

Venture capital pioneer – Thomas Perkins (1932-2016)
© Carolyn Caddes

John McCarthy

Mathematician, Comp. Scientist, AI pioneer – John McCarthy (1927-2011)
© Carolyn Caddes

Steve Wozniak

Engineering genius and Co-founder of Apple – Woz
© Carolyn Caddes
(See my post on Woz)

  • Ajay Divakaran - June 13, 2017 - 3:14 am

    Dear Rajan,

    A veritable pantheon of greatness. Always instructive to see how the firmament is made up of many superstars and is bigger than the sum of its parts. Btw, I could certainly imagine Prof. Thomas Kailath as part of this list because of his magisterial research and textbooks and the impact his students have had.


  • Atanu Dey - June 4, 2017 - 11:54 am

    Rajan, what a beautiful tribute to those who pushed the boundaries of human well-being through technology. Truly awe inspiring. Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • Premanand - June 2, 2017 - 8:27 am

    A very different post from your usual posts, but very inspirational! Please do more of these. Thanks! 🙂ReplyCancel

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