Route 128: Lessons From Boston's High Tech Community

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9780465046393: Route 128: Lessons From Boston's High Tech Community

This is the story of how a stretch of highway, Route 128, circling Boston, became the nation's bestknown centre of high tech industrial innovation. The first book to address the importance of the region "Route 128" examines the forces that shaped it and the role people and events there played in determining the course of the overall relationship among industry, academia and government in our society. The book is as well a brilliant, incisive prescription for duplicating that experience elsewhere to meet the mounting pressures of the world marketplace. The fruitful marriage of industry, the federal government and higher education in Massachusetts produced new fields of research, novel inventions, spin-off companies, entire new industries, new academic disciplines, and innovative federal agencies like the National Science Foundation. The book highlights the roles of such "ultimate entrepreneurs" as Digital Equipment's Ken Olsen and of such academic impresarios as Vannevar Bush of MIT. The authors also explain why "the Massachusetts Miracle" appeared to have fizzled out by the end of the 1980s as the national and regional economies slid into recession and high tech companies laid off thousands.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A funny thing happened to Lamp and Rosegrant (both former Business Week reporters) on their way to writing a book about the so-called ``Massachusetts Miracle''--a two-decade economic expansion sparked by high-tech enterprises clustered along Route 128, which encircles Boston. When they began their reporting in 1985, the Bay State's business activity was nearing a cyclical peak; by 1988, though, the regional boom had become a bust with national implications. Undaunted, the authors persevered and produced a thoughtful appraisal of what has made this New England enclave a hotbed of innovation. To gain perspective, Lampe (now assistant director of MIT's Industrial Liaison Program) and Rosegrant (now a free-lance writer) examine the interactive forces that have helped shape Route 128's high-tech community over the better part of a century. To begin with, they point out, eastern Massachusetts has an education/research infrastructure second to none; its extensive network of world-class universities, hospitals, laboratories, and related facilities remains a magnet for talented students, professors, and scientists eager to test their mettle in demanding environments. No one set out to create a high-tech mecca in metropolitan Boston, the authors insist; it simply evolved as a result of fruitful alliances among local industry, federal agencies, and indigenous institutions before, during, and after WW II. Critical mass was reached during the early 1970's (with the dawn of the minicomputer age), and Route 128 now sustains itself (via start-up or spin-off firms, for example) while supporting a wealth of service providers--patent attorneys, venture capitalists, et al. Nor did state government play a substantive role either in triggering the onset of the Massachusetts Miracle or in cushioning the impact of its recession, the authors observe, concluding that the system seems to work best when not overmanaged. An expert audit of Silicon Valley East, highlighting the contributions of entrepreneurs like Digital Equipment's Ken Olsen and of scholastic promoters like MIT's Vannevar Bush. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

According to former BusinessWeek reporters Rosegrant and Lampe, the Boston region adjoining Route 128--credited for accomplishing the "Massachusetts Miracle" of the 1970s and 1980s--had been the home of technical innovation long before the advent of the computer. Starting with the humble beginnings of such a giant as Digital Equipment, the authors here attribute the so-called miracle of high-tech growth to a particularly American spirit of idealism and entrepreneurship, combined with a happy confluence of resources, "creative tensions" and the combined contributions of academia, government and industry. And although overexpansion, speculation and recessions have taken their tolls, the authors of this well-documented, incisive account urge that, to help boost the nation's productivity and competitiveness, the Route 128 infrastructure should be duplicated in other locales, with government and industry providing support for universities' basic research and training of a professional workforce.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Lampe, David
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David Lampe, Susan Rosegrant
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