LAUNCH: Katherine Maxfield

Tuesday, April 8, 7:30 p.m. 

Starting Up Silicon Valley: How Rolm Became a Cultural Icon and Fortune 500 Company

Introduction by Leslie Berlin, historian for the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford University  

Decades before Facebook, seven years before Apple, four young men were hard at work in a prune-drying shed designing "the world's toughest computer." That was the founding of ROLM Corporation, at a time when the orchards of Santa Clara County were being transformed into what would become Silicon Valley.

By 1984--merely fifteen years later--ROLM was a Fortune 500 company with worldwide offices and a park-like campus. That same year, IBM bought the company in the biggest deal Silicon Valley had ever seen. By then, Silicon Valley was the world's center of innovation, with a hallmark culture very different from the rest of corporate America. ROLM set the benchmark for that culture by providing significant financial rewards for smart, successful work, and an environment where employees could unwind. ROLM's influence extends today, in campuses like those of Google and Cisco, where onsite masseuses and sushi chefs are commonplace.

Kathie Maxfield distributed phone books one summer during high school in Ohio. That did not lead to her 25 years of work for technology companies in Silicon Valley. An MBA did, coupled with her innate (as in, who knew?!) ability to translate technology into features and capabilities that customers needed and could relate to--marketing. After retiring from the corporate world, she turned from writing marketing and business plans to writing fiction, with the help of an MFA in creative writing. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, and her personal perspective nonfiction has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Event date: 
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1010 El Camino Real
94025-4349 Menlo Park