ROLM: From Fruit Shed to Fortune 500

Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014 - 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm PDT          


Katherine Maxfield’s entertaining talk will reveal ROLM’s challenges and innovations, its triumphs and missteps, and the frustrations faced after IBM bought it in the biggest deal Silicon Valley had ever seen.

In 1969, ROLM introduced the world’s toughest computer – an off-the-shelf machine able to withstand extreme military field conditions. In 1975, its CBX – the first digital, computerized business phone system – challenged the world’s largest corporation, AT&T.In 1969, ROLM introduced the world’s toughest computer – an off-the-shelf machine able to withstand extreme military field conditions. In 1975, its CBX – the first digital, computerized business phone system – challenged the world’s largest corporation, AT&T.

In this talk, Kathie Maxfield will reveal the company’s challenges and innovations, its triumphs and missteps, and the frustrations faced after IBM bought it in 1984 in the biggest deal Silicon Valley had ever seen. She got the inside story of ROLM from the founders, former employees, and a number of Silicon Valley’s key figures. Their perspectives, and the wisdom of hindsight (“Seemed like a good idea at the time!”), provide many humorous and heart-felt scenarios.

In 1996, the San Jose Mercury News said, “ROLM epitomized how successful an agile, well-managed startup could be in a world dominated by giants.” As the place to work in Silicon Valley during these years, ROLM set into motion the work style that characterizes many tech companies to this day.

Book Signing
Copies of Kathie’s book Starting Up Silicon Valley: How ROLM Became a Cultural Icon and Fortune 500 Company will be available for purchase for $20, and for signing by her after her talk.


About the speaker, Katherine Maxfield

Katherine Maxfield worked in marketing for tech companies for 25 years, from market research to product marketing to head of a major product line. She worked for ComQuest, TRW Vidar, ROLM and BusinessLand, and consulted for 3Com, Apple, Polycom, Aspect and many others.

Katherine is the author of Starting Up Silicon Valley: How ROLM Became a Cultural Icon and Fortune 500 Company. Other written works have appeared in literary journals and the San Francisco Chronicle.


Location: Agilent Technologies, Inc. - Aristotle Room, Bldg. 5

5301 Stevens Creek Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95051
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