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Silicon Valley’s Secret Involves Proximity, Stolen Parts, and the Kindness of Strangers, Say Atari Alumni

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Every time I talk to a Silicon Valley newbie, particularly someone trying to start a company, I find them enthralled by the “magic” of the place. They are amazed to discover that just about everyone you meet is involved in tech, and, as a result, neighbors, parents on the soccer sidelines, and people in line for coffee at Coupa can all potentially help you make your dream happen. And the most surprising thing to outsiders is that all these random connections actually want to help you, the earnest entrepreneur.

That’s the Silicon Valley secret. And it’s nothing new. Stories about this kind of help—advice, encouragement—and spare parts—came up again and again at a gathering last week of 100 Atari alumni and others connected to the birth of video games and home computers, hosted by the IEEE Silicon Valley History Committee: