by Julie Zisman
I grew up in Silicon Valley in a town called San Carlos. If you live here now, you might be surprised. It seems that it’s quite unusual to be a native these days.
Most of my earliest memories feel like they fell out of small town, 1950s USA. I used to get french fries at the Woolworth’s lunch counter. I saw Snow White for the first time in one of the two movie theaters that used to be downtown (and cried because it was so scary). I used to play outside all day long without seeing an adult until dark. My older brother used to walk me to elementary school (I was 7 and he was 10).
In 1979 my father brought home a Radio Shack TRS80 — one of the original desktop computers. Who knew, at the time, that this signified a cultural phenomenon that would impact the rest of my life.
Let’s look at my personal history with technology:
1982: (Sun Microsystems was founded)
There’s this kind of crazy math teacher called Mr. Shoots who picked on the kids but kept a bank of computers in his classroom so we could play a game called “Worm.” Everyone got to play but first we had to learn how to code the game in computer language C++.
1987: (PeopleSoft was founded)
My very first, part-time job was at a company that developed proprietary software for ATMs. I sent DOS-prompted “electronic mail” to my co-workers in order to request their timecards and expenses.
1991: (The debut of the World Wide Web)
I started to work on my Bachelor of Arts degree at San Diego State University with an emphasis in graphic design. My first classes largely focused on skills having to do with an X-Acto Knife. Within one quarter the curriculum completely changed and all my classes moved to the computer lab. The students excelling were clearly those people who had their own desktop Apple computers. How was I supposed to afford $1,000 for my own Macintosh Classic when I had to buy beer?
1996: (The launch of Hotmail)
I land a junior marketing role at VeriFone. One of the first technology business disruptors, VeriFone changed the way consumers and banks looked at credit card payments. My general appetite for technology was fully seeded and my climb as a technology marketer started.
For a long time, I held a skewed view of how my career choices were based on my proximity to Silicon Valley. Then I started meeting other amazing women from all parts of the nation who were drawn to technology and the “start-up” culture. I’m pretty sure we all like the same thing: complex problem solving. We all bring unique approaches and have different flavors of life. As such, I’ve invited a bunch of them to partner with me in discussing their histories and stories.
This blog is dedicated to celebrating the crazy, weird ways that technology shapes our lives and why things are just a little bit different here in Silicon Valley.