Retracing Silicon Valley’s Rave Roots

It’s common knowledge that Silicon Valley has been the epicenter of the digital revolution as we know it since the late 1980s. A lesser known fact is how intertwined the tech world and the then burgeoning rave scene were.

Michaelangelo Matos, author of The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America, retraces the relationship between tech and techno through the decades.

There were obvious social links between the tech and rave scenes. It was not uncommon for startup workers to spend fourteen hours a day for two weeks straight, coding in preparation for a launch, and then blow it out for two or three days at a party. The heavy tech workload, says Brian Behlendorf, was “certainly more than anyone would for any ordinary kind of job. It’s very much about youth. It’s something that everyone wants to be a part of. That drove me, and it drove a lot of people I know, to not so much work hard-play hard, but to work and play in furtherance of some frontier.”

Behlendorf certainly did his part in furthering things. At the University of California at Berkeley for his freshman year, in the spring of 1992, Behlendorf started the first U.S. rave mailing list, SF-Raves. “Wow! 35 subscribers in 24 hours!” went his first message. “This may get gigantic.” A year later, he and a couple of other ravers co-founded Organic, Inc., with the brand new idea of building websites for businesses. That led to developing HotWired, the website for the future-forward magazine Wired, in 1994—and to Behlendorf leading a team that developed the Apache HTTP server, which undergirds the modern-day Internet.

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