Accidental Empires, Part 3 — Preface to the original 1991 edition

accidental-195x300The woman of my dreams once landed a job as the girls’ English teacher at the Hebrew Institute of Santa Clara. Despite the fact that it was a very small operation, her students (about eight of them) decided to produce a school newspaper, which they generally filled with gossipy stories about each other. The premiere issue was printed on good stock with lots of extra copies for grandparents and for interested bystanders like me. The girls read the stories about each other, then read the stories about each other to each other, pretending that they’d never heard the stories before, much less written them. My cats do something like that, too, I’ve noticed, when they […]

Accidental Empires, Part 2 — Preface to the 1996 edition

accidental-195x300The first edition of Accidental Empires missed something pretty important — the Internet. Of course there wasn’t much of a commercial Internet in 1990. So I addressed it somewhat with the 1996 revised edition, the preface of which is below. Tomorrow we’ll go on to the original preface from 1990. 


In his novel Brighton Rock, Graham Greene’s protagonist, a cocky 14-year-old gang leader named Pinky, has his first sexual experience. Nervously undressing, Pinky is relieved when the girl doesn’t laugh at the sight of his adolescent body. I know exactly how Pinky felt.

When I finished writing this book five years ago, I had no idea how it would be received. Nothing quite like it had […]

Accidental Empires Reboot

AEcoming soon

I, Cringely version 3.01

cringley media logoToday is my 60th birthday. When I came to Silicon Valley I was 24. It feels at times like my adult life has paralleled the growth and maturation of the Valley. When I came here there were still orchards. You could buy cherries, fresh from the fields, right on El Camino Real in Sunnyvale. Apricot orchards surrounded Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose, where I flew in those early days because hangars were already too expensive in Palo Alto. My first Palo Alto apartment rented for $142 per month and I bought my first house there for $47,000. I first met Intel co-founder Bob Noyce when we were both standing in line at […]

Geek Idol: A Competition to Promote Competitiveness

A couple weeks from now we’re going to start serializing my 1992 book Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can’t Get a Date. It’s the book that was the basis for my 1996 documentary TV series Triumph of the Nerds and ultimately led to this column starting on in 1997.

What goes around comes around.

We’ll be serializing the complete 1996 paperback edition which is 102,000 words in length, pumping the book onto the intertubes at around 2,000 words per day. In about 51 days, give or take a bit, we’ll put the entire work on the web with no ads and no subscription fee, just lots and lots of […]