The traffic is the first clue. Four lanes in each direction, jammed bumper to bumper for two hours every morning and every night. It's New England's answer to Silicon Valley: Route 128, the high-tech beltway surrounding Boston.
The stretch is home to Lotus, Lycos, Data General and about 3,600 other upcoming and stalwart computer and electronics companies. Statewide, about 308,900 people work in high-tech related fields, making the sector responsible for almost 10 percent of the 3,218,600 jobs in Massachusetts.
To be sure, East Coast companies benefit from the technological advances made out West, but those here think their own stock of intellectual and venture capital are the real reason for Route 128's rise.
Frederick Terman, the dean largely credited with Stanford University's rise as a science and technology powerhouse, came from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after World War II. So did Vannevar Bush, the man who crafted U.S. research policy in the postwar years and laid the groundwork for the Silicon Valley boom.
In MIT: The Impact of Innovation, the BankBoston Economics Department found MIT graduates spawned 4,000 companies and 1.1 million jobs worldwide.
Silicon Valley companies like Intel and Sun Microsystems have outposts along Route 128.
And then there are the startups like FutureTense, an electronic publishing company that uses Netscape technology to help The Washington Post, Fidelity Investments and Newsweek show off their products on the Internet.
Howard Webber, FutureTense's chairman, says, "We depend on the West Coast for technology, but the technology that wraps around the Netscape application server has many roots. Clearly, there's a concentration of high-tech companies in this area that are good for us."
Written By Sharon L. Lynch