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Tandem Computers Unplugged. Gaye I Clemson. Pioneer Programmer. This was most apparent to me when I reached the Gary Kildall section. Another stylistic thing were his 'cliffhangers' at the end of almost every section. It's pretty gimmicky, and in a book this large, it eventually got very tiresome. I guess what I'm thinking is that I'd much rather read 10 separate books that each focus on a single thread of narrative. We'd get much more into the meat of it. For example, far more enjoyed reading Steve Jobs than this. I do admit Jobs is probably one of the more colorful stories to tell here of course.

View all 3 comments. Jan 18, Jerry rated it really liked it Shelves: conviction , retro. A year was a lifetime in those days. The Tandy computers were the top-sellers from the moment it came out in through at least and probably And there are, as far as I can tell, outright mistakes. In , Radio Shack introduced a spate of new machines.

This is somewhat important, and plays into the overall thesis of the book, which is that this was all completely new. We see consecutive model numbers today and we think, of course, the second was a newer model of the first. But this was a new industry with new players, and many of them, Radio Shack included, were flying by the seat of their pants. As it turned out, they soon created the Model III to replace the I, and renumbered their business line entirely. Another flaw is that each chapter is written as a sort of mini-essay, sometimes repeating what we already know from previous chapters but not nearly redundant enough for each to stand on their own.

Those are the flaws.


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All he had was a bunch of paper tape and no way to show it off to MITS. So he wrote a loader program on paper while flying, and switched it in the Altair had no keyboard—it used switches to enter machine code in binary cold. It worked. One of the undercurrents running throughout the book is that these things were built because the people building them wanted to use them.

Nobody else was making them, so they had to do it themselves. Only one thing bothered him: he wanted to design them now. In order to design computers, he had to do it on his own. As big as it is, the book also feels very unfinished. Netscape has just gone open source and been bought by AOL and Sun, but it is still a viable competitor to Internet Explorer. And Java, running code downloaded from the Internet, was still considered secure. Google, which would fit right into their thesis, is nowhere here, though the company had been founded a year or two before publication.

The book is copyrighted , but may have been finished in there is no date later than Page and Brin began developing Google in ; Google started in , and the web site was running no later than December of , according to the Internet Archive. There were references to them in one old computer magazine I picked up Hobby Computer Handbook but by the time I started reading current magazines, they were gone.

Why are video games so much better designed than office software? Video games are designed by people who love to play video games. Office software is designed by people who want to do something else on the weekend. Apr 29, Barbara rated it it was amazing Shelves: biz-tech-books. Loved this book! I read it back when it was first published and during the time I was working at my first job after graduating from Cal For anyone that worked in Silicon Valley then, and now, this is a fascinating and accurate portrayal of the leaders and visionaries who helped shape the technology industry. Jan 20, Mark rated it really liked it.

Fire in the Valley is one of the seminal books on the history of personal computing and still has value. Over time, most books on the subject have tended to focus on the chosen few who have become household names especially Jobs and Gates , but at the time when this book was first written, it was not yet obvious who would be canonized in the long run.

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Thus, Fire in the Valley, describes the key contributions of dozens and dozens of individuals whose names have mostly been forgotten. The book re Fire in the Valley is one of the seminal books on the history of personal computing and still has value. The book reminds us how communal and democratized the early days of personal computing were. Hundreds of hobbyists, from around the country not just Silicon Valley , contributed to the development of the computer.

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That said, the book's comprehensive nature leaves it somewhat diffuse, and some readers might, by the end, find themselves longing for something simpler a biography of Jobs , even if it means missing out on the many heroes of the early computing revolution. I recommend it more for its value as a history than as a pleasant read. May 26, Cori rated it it was amazing. An entirely captivating look at how the technology of the personal computer evolved from garage hobby project to household essential.

I read the original version first and was left thirsting for more so tracked down this updated one. The only downside is that it is in desperate need of updating again because 10 years have passed since this edition. I would love to see a new version or a new book written on the further impact of the Internet, Social Networking, and how Silicon Valley recover An entirely captivating look at how the technology of the personal computer evolved from garage hobby project to household essential.

I would love to see a new version or a new book written on the further impact of the Internet, Social Networking, and how Silicon Valley recovered from the dotcom bust. I believe there are more stories to tell and these guys are the ones to do it. View 1 comment. Amazing storytelling about the birth and rise of the personal computer.

Required reading for anyone in the IT industry. Favorite quote from the book: "Let's not worry about conformity and tradition. Let's just do whatever works and let's have fun doing it. Sep 18, Alexander Case rated it liked it Shelves: computer-history , nonfiction. The book significantly underestimates gaming's role in promoting the adoption of computing technologies. I'm to get more into this in depth with my video review. Feb 05, John Harvard rated it liked it Shelves: business. A fast-paced narrative documenting the development of the PC industry, from the emergence of the Altair computer in the seventies to the arrival of the internet and AOL in the late nineties.

The book is not technical and does not need any formal understanding of computers to be enjoyed. It is the story of the PC revolution and the personalities behind it. The book spends a fair bit of time portraying key personalities who were behind the PC revolution and how they incrementally built on each othe A fast-paced narrative documenting the development of the PC industry, from the emergence of the Altair computer in the seventies to the arrival of the internet and AOL in the late nineties.

The book spends a fair bit of time portraying key personalities who were behind the PC revolution and how they incrementally built on each others efforts to continually improve the PC and make it more affordable. The title of the book is wholly appropriate, it was really a wildfire of ideas and efforts in Silicon Valley that led to the PC revolution. A similar revolution seems to be occurring in Silicon Valley in Artificial Intelligence, or AI, today where every company seems to be taking incremental steps and learning from others to make AI ever more powerful and accurate in its predictive capability.

Sep 30, Dan Cohen rated it really liked it Shelves: history , business-and-economics , it. A decent account of the fascinating few years that saw the birth of the PC industry. I was impressed by the fact that the author kept a wide angle view and so did not neglect to write about the journals, fairs, clubs, retailers and other key elements of the scene, in addition to the obvious players hardware and software vendors.

Perhaps a little overly US-centric for my taste although the title of the book means I can't say I wasn't warned. I might have found the book a little easier to foll A decent account of the fascinating few years that saw the birth of the PC industry. I might have found the book a little easier to follow if it had been structured more by date and less by, say, company, but that's a quibble. Definitely worth a read if you are interested in the subject. Aug 07, Derek rated it it was amazing.

I've read many books that covered the history of computers, with Steven Levy's Hackers being a favorite. This book had anecdotes of never seen before. It was an exciting read even knowing large portions of the history it covers. The book contain some new info to me but the story line jumped around a bit. I listened to the audio book version and that is where everything fell apart for me. The narrator has absolutely no emotion in his voice. Sep 22, Mike rated it really liked it. An interesting contemporary account of the development of personal computers.

Jun 24, Michelle Padley Masson rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. Jan 01, Kian rated it it was amazing. As a child of the 80s, and a learner of the 90s, I grew up in an exciting era in personal computing. I've been in this industry a while. I know As a child of the 80s, and a learner of the 90s, I grew up in an exciting era in personal computing. Whilst all this was going on, I had very little idea of the early history of personal computing, the things that happened before the Z80 processor and Clive Sinclair's little black box.

I expected a dry history, a page by page presentation of facts and was pleasantly surprised by quite a compulsive page-turner giving a sense of real excitement to the early and developing industry. The late few chapters do focus on the rise of Windows, Apple and the post-PC era but the bulk of the book is on these early years.

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The book is organised mostly around subjects rather than presenting a chronological history. Where one chapter will deal with the development of the computer manufacturing industry from the s through to the mid s you'll then find yourself cast back to the mid s for a discussion of early computer publishing.

Check the dates whilst you're reading to make sure you're when you think you are and you'll be fine. I found this book surprisingly inspiring. It's full of stories of geeks starting out businesses with very little, mostly from their garage sheds. Some rise, some fell, and it was interesting to see how much hard graft went in to building these empires. As someone coming in to the IBM PC era during the 90s, it was very easy to see these people as having it all handed to them on a plate, where the realities were lots of late nights, dodgy deals, fallen ventures and near bankruptcy.

It's excellent reading, and really fills in the details for those of us working in the industry today. Jan 20, Senthil Kumaran rated it it was amazing Shelves: computer-science. This is one of the finest book written on the history of personal computers and computer revolution tracing back from to It traces it back to the hobbyist culture which shaped the industry.

It talks about the attempts made my individuals who were interested in electronics, computers and who cared about this thing even before it was widely known to the general public. The history of machines and companies like IMSAI took me by surprise as even in the very early days, there was this com This is one of the finest book written on the history of personal computers and computer revolution tracing back from to The history of machines and companies like IMSAI took me by surprise as even in the very early days, there was this company which was completely run by sales people and where technology had a backseat.

It shows how the MITS ALTAIR computers helped spread the imagination of ownership of personal computers, but they were not perfect and had lot of short-comings in their engineering that led others catch on in the game. The story of young programmer bill gates is fascinating and it becomes more interesting towards as he works out his partnership with a big company like IBM. The story of Steve and Woz, and their differing personalities, styles makes an interesting read too. Steve seems to have had am ambition to build a great business and he pursued it like a religious leader would with his ideology, Woz on the other hand was an engineer, a fun loving type with no interest in business.

I had an idea of Gary Kidall, who was the original author of DOS operating system and I thought that he lost out in the revolution, but this book corrected me as I learnt that Gary Kidall did make millions with his invention of DOS and enjoyed the lifestyle he wanted. Here are some of the photos from this book which shows the various revolutions. I bet each of them have an Wikipedia entry that you can read further on.

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If you have time or interest to read only one book about the history of the personal computer, this is that book. I have read and reviewed many related titles; this is one of the few to to encapsulate both the PC's technical and entrepreneurial history. Swaine and Freiberger ask and effectively answer relevant If you have time or interest to read only one book about the history of the personal computer, this is that book. Swaine and Freiberger ask and effectively answer relevant questions including why the PC revolution was sparked by individuals, while business-orientated suppliers such as Hewlett Packard, initially resisted PC initiatives.

The authors also point to the release of the Apple iMac in as the crowning achievement in PC development - following this laptop computers and smaller devices increasingly became popular. Added chapters for the third edition include discussion about mobile platform development and cloud-based storage. The personal insights of computer scientists and engineers turned entrepreneurs including the late Gary Kildall, Lee Felsenstein and Ed Roberts, help make this book a very engaging read. As the short timeframe on reading this book might indicate, it was engaging. The myth of IBM going with Microsoft for their operating system, because Gary Kildal was to busy flying, gets debunked.

The notion that Bill Gates was just able to buy another operating system, cheap, from someone else and slap it onto the IBM PC is also debunked. If you're looking for the proliferation or urban legends and myths, As the short timeframe on reading this book might indicate, it was engaging. If you're looking for the proliferation or urban legends and myths, you will hate this book. If you're looking for an honest, sober look at the creation of the PC industry, and a good lead-in on the post-PC era, start here.

The who and the why are at least as important as the what.