Eric Emerson Schmidt was born in the spring of 1955 in Washington, D.C. After graduating from high school in Yorktown, Virginia, he earned an electrical engineering degree from Princeton University and then a doctorate in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley.

Schmidt earned his tech stripes toiling in the ranks of respected Silicon Valley veteran organizations. He worked at a series of companies, including Bell Labs, Zilog, and Xerox's legendary Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). He progressed to chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems, and then to chief executive officer of Novell. When Novell was acquired by Cambridge Technology Partners, Schmidt left the company, making him available for recruitment by Google.

Though the implication that Schmidt provides adult supervision to impetuous young men may rankle, occasionally Schmidt's parental proclivity has popped up in public. At one meeting, Larry Page was asked about his opinion of the U.S. PATRIOT Act, legislation that some people fear impinges on personal privacy. Larry started to reply with theoretical comments about the Act, when Schmidt interrupted, "The best way to answer that is, it's the law of [the] land and we have to follow it."[]

(For more about privacy, see the section "Privacy Issue" in the chapter "Google Grows Up.")

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