Israel’s transition from struggling agrarian upstart to pulsing hi-tech superpower is often mentioned with a certain wistful, nostalgic longing. In reality, though, the pioneering spirit of Israel has remained throughout; what early and recent generations have in common is that both have managed to create astonishing new blossoms in the place of barren wastelands.
Some have even undergone that transformation personally. Dan Vilenski, for example, picked oranges in the orchards near his home in Binyamina as a boy. Over the past 40 years, he has led several hi-tech companies, championed government investment in local hi-tech research, and headed the Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative.
The unique way in which Israeli hi-tech companies influence global markets is not through their size, but through their innovation. Rather than establishing the largest companies in a given field, Israelis repeatedly manage to introduce technologies and create products that set worldwide industry standards. Through both homegrown companies and local branches of international firms, Israel has been the source of a long list of breakthroughs in dozens of hi-tech fields.
Israeli communications innovations include the first telephone line doubler, the first commercial voice-over-Internet phone (VoIP) technology, the first consumer product for instant online chat, and much more.