When I was a child growing up in a suburb of Boston, my parents often took me to the outdoor concerts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Esplanade along the Boston shores of the Charles River. Looking across the Charles toward Cambridge in the evenings I was repeatedly awed by the looming majesty of M.I.T.'s bulk and, alongside it, the bright blue flashing roof-sign and logo of Electronics Corporation of America, an early high-technology firm located a few doors down Memorial Drive from what is now the MIT Sloan School of Management. My first strongly formed images of MIT were thus intimately interwoven with a fascination for technological entrepreneurship. Little did I realize then that my life's work would be at that interface of MIT and entrepreneurship.
This, then, is a book about entrepreneurs. But it is mostly about a very special group of entrepreneurs who were nurtured at or nearby MIT in the post-World War II explosion of science and technology and its applications to industrial and societal advance. Trained in high-technology in MIT's labs and academic departments or in the local industrial marvel that became known as the "Route 128 phenomenon", these entrepreneurs took their technical and innate skills with them to found their own new companies. The book explains the origins of these people and of the companies they founded and grew. It focuses on people, technology, money, and markets and their interplay in the formation, development and success or failure of hundreds of high-technology companies in the Greater Boston area.
The formal studies that led to this book began in 1964 and continue to the present. But three years earlier, out of a gnawing curiosity while I was still an economics doctoral student at MIT, I had cross-registered at the Harvard Business School to enroll in their New Enterprises subject, the only related subject then available in the Greater Boston area. And in 1963, just one year before this research began, I recruited my close MIT System Dynamics colleague, Jack Pugh, to join me in forming Pugh-Roberts Associates, my first act of business entrepreneurship. Over a quarter-century has passed since these beginnings and they have been exciting and fulfilling years, made whole especially by the combination of new enterprises research and action that have paralleled and become integral with my family life.
This book fuses my work with many close working colleagues, including research associates, graduate research assistants, and many thesis students. But it also draws from the unique environment of MIT and Greater Boston, and the generous willingness of the entrepreneurial community to share their experiences, their pains and their successes. The research could not have been carried out in a less thriving, less self-assured, less open