Tech History, and the 2017 Fellows Awards

I’ve spent my whole life in Silicon Valley, and so I have a deep reverence for the remarkable people in tech history who helped create what Silicon Valley is today. I grew up hearing stories about Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, and their garage in Palo Alto; as a teenager I dreamed big while soldering transistors together to create binary logic gates; I graduated from high school the year two guys named Steve built the first Apple computer in a garage five miles from our house. 

So I’m a bit of a tech history geek. Having a front-row seat to the technology revolution has the opportunity of a lifetime, honestly.

It’s been observed before that if the industrial revolution was about creating machines that amplified the human body, the tech age has been about creating machines that are amplifiers of the human mind. The power with which those machines have changed the world is remarkable. And those of us who work in Silicon Valley are lucky enough to be able to leverage every day the body of knowledge built by the brilliant technology minds who came before us.

So I felt fortunate to be able to represent Tivix at the big gala Fellows event at the Computer History Museum on Friday night. The annual event has become sort of Silicon Valley’s version of the Academy Awards, a swank annual gathering of tech intelligentsia, honoring the achievements upon which a thousand careers have been built (plus it’s fun to see geeks wearing tuxedos). 

The very first Fellows award, 30 years ago, went to Grace Hopper, arguably one of the greatest women in technology history (long before “women in tech” became a phrase and a cause). Since then there have been 75 other technology and computer science giants inducted into the Fellows Hall, from Steve Wozniak to Linus Torvalds.

At this year’s event on Friday night, we celebrated as 4 new entrants were inducted: 

  • Alan Cooper, for his invention of the visual development environment in Visual BASIC, and for his pioneering work in establishing the field of interaction design and its fundamental tools.
  • Margaret Hamilton, for her leadership and work on software for NASA’s Apollo space missions and for fundamental contributions to software engineering.
  • Cleve Moler, for his creation and development of the MATLAB numerical computing environment and programming language.
  • Larry Roberts, for his contributions to human and machine communications and for his role in the development of the ARPANET (precursor to the internet) and the X.25 protocol.

Congrats to this year’s cohort in the Computer History Museum Hall of Fellows. They are the exceptional people whose ideas and tools have changed the world.  

I look forward to seeing some Tivix team members inducted on stage before their careers are over. 🙂