editor, Midge Decter at Basic Books,nwho observers say took a strong hand innhelping Gilder shape both VisiblenMan and Wealth and Poverty out ofnlonger, more ecstatic manuscripts, hadnleft. The Gilder flair for the extravagantnoverstatement, which had seemedna mere tic in Wealth and Poverty,nburgeoned floridly. He equated capitalismnwith the teachings of Ghrist.n'”Do unto others as you would haventhem do unto you’ and ‘Give and younshall be given unto’ are the centralnrules of the life of enterprise,” henwrote. The book largely consisted ofnflattering two-dimensional portraits ofnentrepreneurs he admired, interspersednwith tendentious flailings at thentax system and the industrial-policynliberals who haunted the early 1980’s.nGilder’s literary style acquired a dense,namphetaminized quality, pushing avalanchesnof detail at readers in everynparagraph.n, The book jacket for The Spirit ofnEnterprise notified readers that Gildernhad taken a job as semiconductorsneditor for RElease 1.0 magazine, ancomputer journal, and that a Gildernhistory of the semiconductor industrynwould be forthcoming the next year.nIndeed, a full third of The Spirit ofnEnterprise — the most feverish andnleast readable third — is devoted toncomputer entrepreneurs and microchips.nMicrocosm is Gilder’s promisednmicrochip history, although four yearsnhave elapsed since its promised duendate. It is a kind of continuation of ThenSpirit of Enterprise, that is to say, it isnin some ways yet another rewrite ofnWealth and Poverty. Smith, Say’s Law,nand Schumpeter’s creative destructionnall duly make their appearances innMicrocosm. So do all of Gilder’s worstnstylistic traits in this, the longest, mostnambitious, and most maniacal of hisnbooks.nParts of Microcosm are far fromndull. Its best chapters are the first two,nin which Gilder clearly and elegantlynexplains the basic principles of quantumnphysics that lie at the heart of thenidea of miniaturizing electronic circuitry.nThe “quantum revolution” that isnthe subject of Gilder’s book has madenpossible the personal computer via thenmicroprocessor — essentially a computernon a single chip — the hand-heldncalculator, the digital watch, and thenchips now embedded in telephone sys­ntems, automobiles, household appliances,noffice equipment, fax machines,nand so forth. The developments innchip design that lie behind all thisnsophisticated new information technologynemanated mostly from the fertilenbrain of Carver Mead, a computernscience professor at the Galifornia Institutenof Technology who did the basicnphysics research on electron tunneling,nlaunched several generations of students,nand was the guiding light behindnseveral pioneering Silicon Valley companies.nGilder believes that, as chip designnbecomes more sophisticated and it becomesnpossible to pack ever more circuitsnonto a single sliver of silicon,nmicroprocessors will one day completelynreplace the powerful high-speednsupercomputers produced by industryngiants such as Cray Research and IBM.nFor Gilder, the costly Cray machines,nwhich rely on fast-moving metalnswitches and wires rather than slowmovingnsilicon circuits — a macrocosmicnrather than a microcosmic approachnto computing, as he wouldnsay — are objects of contempt. He describesnthe innards of the Cray as “anmadman’s pasta of tangled wires.”nThat description, sad to say, also fitsnGilder’s prose as the book plungesn”deeper into the microcosm,” as henputs it. After those first elegant explanationsnof quantum theory and how itnapplies to microcircuitry. Microcosmnquickly deteriorates into a feverish,nconfusing, technical-jargon-ladennmess. In chapters packed as denselynwith information as a 64K memorynchip, Gilder overloads readers withncompany names, details of chip designnprocesses, and nano-tidbits of biographicalndata, all in no apparent chronologicalnorder. Nor is there any othernorder. Gilder never hesitates to refer tonan arcane scientific process dozens orneven hundreds of pages before describingnit.nFor example, Microcosm containsnfive references to the exploits of anmysterious company called Xicorn(spelled “Xicon” in Gilder’s index).nAlthough we learn that Xicor (or Xicon)nwas founded by an Israeli emigrennamed Raphael Klein, Gilder neverntells us when Klein got started, wherenthe company is located, how manynemployees it has, or what it does.nnnTo Gilder’s computer-buff readers atnRElease 1.0, the saga of Xicor with allnits technical baggage may make perfectnsense, but to this lay reader it seemsndisorganized, disorienting, and notnvery interesting. Xicor is but one ofnscores of microchip companies whosenfortunes Gilder relays in the samentangled fashion. Microcosm is thusncompletely useless as business history.nIt is also useless as entrepreneur hagiography,nthe genre Gilder developed innThe Spirit of Enterprise. Except for anfew figures like Carver Mead, thencharacters in Microcosm are not evenntwo-dimensional; they are merennames, like Raphael Klein.nOccasionally, Gilder strives for flamboyantnTom Wolfe-like descriptions,nsuch as that of Jerry Sanders, head ofnAdvanced Micro Designs, who showsnup at a company sales conference atnWaikiki Beach tricked out like KingnKamehameha, flanked by his Barbiedollngirlfriend, and showering his audiencenwith gold watches that the menndare not pick up. “What is this? Approachingnthe podium, white-hairednand with a gilded crown. He is drapednin frangipani leis, royal in a radiantnvelveteen robe, open to show a grizzlednchest and a French bathing thongnabove tapering sun-rouged legs.” ButnGilder lacks Wolfe’s imagination and,nmore important, Wolfe’s interest in thenpeople he writes about, except insofarnas they serve to make a point. Sanders,nlike Klein, simply fades away, as doesnAdvanced Micro Designs.nA reader who would like a coherentnthumbnail history of the microchipnindustry along with its leading figuresnand companies and chief technologicalnadvances would do far better to readnGilder’s five-page article about the industrynin the October 23, 1989, issuenof Forbes rather than this 383-pagenbook. The article is written in plainnEnglish and includes photographs ofnmany of the men whose names cropnup in Microcosm. Gilder has an egalitarian’snhatred of the beautiful, so henenjoys describing computer types asn”unappealingly small, fat, or callow, allnthe nerds and wonks disdained at thensenior prom or the Ivy League cotillion.”nIt is a relief to see that his siliconnpioneers are in fact pleasant-looking,nhighly intelligent-looking men.nIt is clear that Gilder’s chief interestnis not really the computer industry atnJANUARY 1990/31n