Cisco's Origins - For The Techies


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This is a must read for techies interested in the history of the internet. I know several people who retired from Cisco some years ago. If you're a Cringley fan, you'll love this.

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It starts out:

A start-up's true tale:
Often-told story of Cisco's launch leaves out the drama, intrigue

Mercury News

Founding legends are a specialty of Silicon Valley, and none is more appealing than that of Cisco Systems: i/In the 1980s a young Stanford University couple invent the multiprotocol router and starts Cisco in their living room, using their own credit cards for financing.

Repeated for years by Cisco's marketers and the news media (including the Mercury News), the story of the couple, Leonard Bosack and Sandy K. Lerner, mirrors the Silicon Valley dream: Come up with a breakthrough, found a company and become a millionaire.

But the Cisco legend is incomplete. It omits many people who helped develop the multiprotocol router, a device critical to the early Internet. It omits a battle with Stanford that almost killed Cisco at birth over charges that the founders used technology that belonged to Stanford to start their business.

Perhaps most important, legends like Cisco's obscure the true collective nature of the innovation that built Silicon Valley long before the hype and froth of the Internet bubble. A good idea is followed by hundreds of major and minor improvements; the entrepreneur in the group forms a company around the idea, and makes still more improvements.

"One can't define who did what, because it was pretty much of a cooperative effort,'' said Nick Veizades, one of many Stanford staff members who worked on the router. "People tried to improve certain things so they worked better, and in this way they propagated.'


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