EAT LUNCH at Legal Seafood in Kendall Square any weekday, and you are likely to be surrounded by biomedical scientists from academia and biopharmaceutical companies. You might find the occasional information technology worker, but they are few and far between. Why has the local innovation economy, once dominated by information technology, now shifted decidedly to biotech?
Over the last half century, Boston gave birth to legendary technology companies like DEC, Wang, Lotus, and EMC. Only EMC remains as a highly successful and independent Fortune 500 company today. Something shifted in the 1970s and 1980s, such that Boston, which was fertile ground for “hardware” innovation (computers and storage), mostly missed the Internet, software, and social media revolutions. With a few exceptions, such as Akamai, Boston has not created dominant new IT companies of late.