Catticus Corporation

For production support for a three-hour series tracing the history of Silicon Valley to be aired on PBS primetime, along with development of a public education and community outreach campaign

  • Amount $1,500,000
  • City Berkeley, CA
  • Investigator Michael Schwarz
  • Year 2012
  • Program Public Understanding
  • Sub-program Television

Funds from this grant support a project by award-winning producer Michael Schwarz to develop, produce, and air a three-hour PBS special on the intellectual, cultural, and technological history of Silicon Valley from its origins in the 1870s to today. The film will explore how and why Silicon Valley has, decade after decade for nearly 100 years, produced world-changing innovation-not just new products but whole new industries: vacuum tubes, radio, radar, integrated circuits, venture capital, PCs, printers, genetic engineering, software, networking hardware, the internet, social media, cloud computing, mobile. Guided by a distinguished group of scholars, historians of technology, and other experts, the program will examine how the Valley has managed to stay on the cutting edge of technology even as that edge has shifted and pivoted dramatically, and why its success has been so difficult to emulate. By casting a longer and more informed historical lens on Silicon Valley, the proposed show promises to stimulate a deeper understanding of how government, academia, and the private sector can collaborate successfully and also provide new insights on innovation and entrepreneurship, especially as applied to technology. In addition to the three-hour film for broadcast, funds from this grant support a public engagement and educational campaign targeted at middle and high school students, a website, a multiplatform digital media strategy including a social media campaign, short-form videos and interactive maps for web tablets and phones, and a strong publicity and promotion effort that should significantly expand both the audience for the show and discussion of the issues raised.

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