Meet the man who flew the SR-71 Blackbird—the world’s fastest jet

Meet the man who flew the SR-71 Blackbird —the world’s fastest jet Pilot Brian Shul discusses his unique trajectory—in life and in flight—ahead of his Hiller Aviation Museum event By Kali Shiloh Speed demons: pilots of the Blackbird SR-71 looking as top secret as the plane itself. (Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin) The ups and downs of Brian Shul’s life have been both literal and extreme. Shot down over Vietnam, the fighter pilot suffered extensive burns and broken ...

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Plastic droids and evil Care Bears: the (less nostalgic) story of Kenner’s Star Wars toys.

Stanford Design Professor Bill Burnett recounts his time at Kenner (and how Star Wars ruined the toy industry) By Charles Russo Partial disintegration: a couple bounty hunters short of a collection. (Photo by Charles Russo) I still have my childhood Star Wars lunchbox. It’s the same one I took to my first day of pre-school…a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away (which is to say — about 40 years ago in northern New Jersey). My lunchbox ...

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Remembering Silicon Valley’s trailblazing “Troublemakers”

Stanford historian Leslie Berlin discusses her new book on the forgotten figures of tech history By Emily Olson Bunch of troublemakers: early Silicon Valley engineers responding to a reporter’s question—“What do you think of Texas Instruments?” (Images Courtesy of the Computer History Museum) It’s possible to explain the history of Silicon Valley using only two types of characters — and no, we’re not talking binary. There’s the “innovators … the typical heroes in our story of technological process,” as Atlantic Senior ...

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Our guide to celebrating Filoli’s 100th year (amid lots of holiday cheer)

Seasonal celebrations for the centennial of a Peninsula landmark By Laura Ness The meticulously manicured gardens of the Filoli Estate. (Image courtesy of Gretchine Nievarez/Filoli) This year marks the 100th anniversary for the Filoli Estate, the beloved local landmark in Woodside. While many of the official centennial celebrations have already been held and chronicled, the holiday season provides a unique opportunity to pay a visit and toast the existence and persistence of this historic ...

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Five fascinating finds from the archives of Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum

A photographic tour through the early days of the tech industry By Anna van Raaphorst-Johnson and Dick Johnson Customer engineers working on a General Electric mainframe. (Image courtesy of the Computer History Museum archives) For all of the recent boom and widespread hype of modern day Silicon Valley, it remains compelling to consider that the region’s ties to technology and computer innovation date back well over 60 years. Deep in the archives of the CHM’s Fremont warehouse. ...

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Atari and the dawn of video game culture

Talking art and innovation with author Tim Lapetino on the anniversary of a Silicon Valley classic By Charles Russo Cover art for the Atari 2600 game “Surround,” by Cliff Spohn. (Courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment) This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Atari home gaming console. Yes, the 2600, with its sleek design and many iconic games, is now four decades old. The cover of Tim Lapetino’s book, published by Dynamite Entertainment. In the years since the Atari ...

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Stanford vs. Cal: A visual history of the Big Game

The triumph and the tragedy…the Play and the Revenge of the Play…the Rugby Years? A photographic historical tour of the Bay Area’s most heated football tradition By Charles Russo Dating back to the 1890s, the Big Game — the annual Stanford-Berkeley showdown — is the oldest sports rivalry in the West. (Courtesy of the Stanford Historical Photograph Collection) This weekend will see the 122nd incarnation of The Big Game, one of the oldest, most well-known and contentious rivalries ...

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Ten years later: the lessons of the Cosco Busan oil spill

How one of the worst environmental disasters in Bay Area history has led to surprising progress over the past decade A Coast Guard 25-ft small boat patrols the Port of Oakland near the Cosco Busan on Nov. 10, 2007. The vessel struck the Bay Bridge in the San Francisco Bay on Nov. 7, 2007, and spilled approximately 53,000 gallons of oil into the Bay. (Photo by Petty Officer Second Class Prentice Danner, ...

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An afternoon within the City of the Dead

The deceased greatly outnumber the living in the Necropolis of Colma By Charles Russo The huge sprawling graveyard of Cypress Lawn Cemetery. (Photo by Charles Russo) The ravens wanted me out of the graveyard. Indignant to my presence, they protested with shrill shouts and sharp squawks, fluttering about in agitation from headstone to tree limb. The cemetery was massive, and I struggled to find my destination. Passing by a pair of weathered old tombs, I tried to assess ...

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Check out 15 years worth of Bridge School Benefit concert photography

Photographer Erika Carrillo shares more than 15 years of imagery from Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit. Photos by Erika Carrillo/Text by Charles Russo Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters (and Nirvana fame) performing at the Bridge School Benefit in 2011, one of many times he has played the concert. (Photo by Erika Carrillo) This final weekend in October will mark what would have been the 32nd year of the annual all-acoustic charity-based Bridge School Benefit ...

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