10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10
Nick Montfort, Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. Marino, Michael Mateas Casey Reas, Mark Sample, and Noah Vawter. MIT Press, 2012
This book takes a single line of code—the extremely concise BASIC program for the Commodore 64 inscribed in the title—and uses it as a lens through which to consider the phenomenon of creative computing and the way computer programs exist in culture. The authors of this collaboratively written book treat code not as merely functional but as a text—in the case of 10 PRINT, a text that appeared in many different printed sources—that yields a story about its making, its purpose, its assumptions, and more. They consider randomness and regularity in computing and art, the maze in culture, the popular BASIC programming language, and the highly influential Commodore 64 computer.
Abstracting Away the Machine: The History of the FORTRAN Programming Language (FORmula TRANslation)
Mark Jones Lorenzo. Self published, 2019
At the dawn of the computer age, an elite development team at IBM built the most influential computer programming language in history: FORTRAN. Abstracting Away the Machine tells the epic story of how they did it–and what happened next. Over the past six decades, programming languages like ALGOL, BASIC, C/C++, COBOL, Java, LISP, LOGO, Pascal, PL/I, Python, Visual Basic, and many others opened up the field of computer science, and of computer programming in general, to the masses. But all of these high-level languages (HLLs)–computer languages that automate, hide, or otherwise abstract away the underlying operations of the machine–owe a huge debt of gratitude to FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation), the first HLL to achieve widespread adoption. Many programming practices that we take for granted now came about as a result of FORTRAN. Created over a three-year period at IBM by a development team led by a brilliant but wayward mathematician named John W. Backus, FORTRAN was implemented initially on the IBM 704 mainframe computer in the mid-1950s, with dialects of the language quickly spreading thereafter to other platforms. FORTRAN’s powerful compiler, which translated human-readable code into code a computer could understand, produced incredibly clean and optimized standalone executable programs, all of which could be run independently of the compiler, setting the standard for decades to come–and overcoming the doubts of many skeptics along the way, who thought the FORTRAN project would never succeed. In the 1960s the language was standardized, with machine-dependent commands excised, and many platform-independent implementations followed. With the language now portable, able to run on any computer (at least in theory), FORTRAN, almost by accident, secured a stranglehold in the fields of science and engineering. The language also came to dominate in the supercomputing industry. But FORTRAN, a blue-collar workhorse more concerned with results than with style, was a victim of its own success–the language sowed the seeds of its own demise. New high-level languages sprouted up, stealing the good bits from FORTRAN while simultaneously defining themselves in opposition to it. FORTRAN had become the foil. As these new languages pierced the cutting edge of the programming landscape, they redefined computing paradigms (e.g., with structured programming, object-oriented programming, and the like), and FORTRAN–though eventually (and repeatedly) modernized and formally renamed Fortran–struggled to keep up through multiple standardization efforts, finally ceding significant ground to its successors as it slowly withdrew from the spotlight. To add insult to injury, even John Backus eventually turned against his creation. This is not a book on how to program in FORTRAN, nor is it a technical manual. Rather, the focus in Abstracting Away the Machine, which chronicles the complete history and development of the FORTRAN programming language, is set squarely on telling three interlocking stories: (1) How an elite group of computing trailblazers built FORTRAN, (2) Why the conditions at the time were ripe for them to succeed, and (3) What happened after they did. Tracing the long arc of FORTRAN’s development and maturation is integral to understanding not only the history of programming but also the state of computer science today. The birth of FORTRAN planted a seed that led to the full flowering of high-level languages, since FORTRAN overcame initial skepticism by demonstrating to the world that a well-made HLL really could abstract away the machine.
Acorn – A World in Pixels
AA.VV. Idesine, 2020
Spread over 476 pages, with a foreword by Richard Hanson (Superior Software) and Life of an Acorn Gamer by TV's Iain Lee, it features over 150 classic games, with exclusive interviews with key figures in the industry at the time - from the likes of David Braben and Ian Bell (Elite); Geoff Crammond (Revs/Aviator); Peter Irvin (Exile); Tim Tyler (Repton); Nick Pelling (Frak!); Peter Scott (Sim City/The Last Ninja); Gary Partis (Psycastria/Dr Who); Chris Roberts (Stryker's Run); Steve Furber (Acorn); Steve Botterill (Superior Software / 4th Dimension); Alan Butcher (Micro Power) and many, many more – and features on subjects such as key publishers, cover art and classic magazines. The book showcases the computers’ inimitable graphic style and is packed full with memories and anecdotes from programmers, artists, publishers, reviewers and enthusiasts. Remember Elite, Chuckie Egg, Repton, Exile, Starship Command, Thrust, Citadel, Revs, Imogen, Codename:Droid, Firetrack, Arcadians, Mr Ee!, Zalaga, Castle Quest, Galaforce, Snapper and many more. Read about the history of the iconic publishers including Superior Software, Micro Power, Acornsoft, Tynesoft, 4th Dimension, Alligata, Ultimate Play the Game and more. Learn about the magazine publishers of the time, how the games industry evolved and the many 'lost and found' games of the era. And much, much more. New artwork from Ste Pickford (of the Pickford Brothers) and Les Ives (original cover artist for Micro Power and Superior Software). An unmissable publication for anyone who grew up with an Acorn 8-bit machine.
Building IBM: Shaping an Industry and Its Technology
Emerson W. Pugh. MIT Press, 1995
No company of the twentieth century achieved greater success and engendered more admiration, respect, envy, fear, and hatred than IBM. Building IBM tells the story of that company—how it was formed, how it grew, and how it shaped and dominated the information processing industry. Emerson Pugh presents substantial new material about the company in the period before 1945 as well as a new interpretation of the postwar era.Granted unrestricted access to IBM's archival records and with no constraints on the way he chose to treat the information they contained, Pugh dispels many widely held myths about IBM and its leaders and provides new insights on the origins and development of the computer industry.Pugh begins the story with Herman Hollerith's invention of punched-card machines used for tabulating the U.S. Census of 1890, showing how Hollerith's inventions and the business he established provided the primary basis for IBM. He tells why Hollerith merged his company in 1911 with two other companies to create the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, which changed its name in 1924 to International Business Machines. Thomas J. Watson, who was hired in 1914 to manage the merged companies, exhibited remarkable technological insight and leadership—in addition to his widely heralded salesmanship—to build Hollerith's business into a virtual monopoly of the rapidly growing punched-card equipment business. The fascinating inside story of the transfer of authority from the senior Watson to his older son, Thomas J. Watson Jr., and the company's rapid domination of the computer industry occupy the latter half of the book. In two final chapters, Pugh examines conditions and events of the 1970s and 1980s and identifies the underlying causes of the severe probems IBM experienced in the 1990s.
Commodore 65 – La storia
Carlo Pastore. Self published, 2017
Il libro racconta la storia di un personal computer Commodore mai nato. Il Commodore 65 rappresenta uno dei prototipi più affascinanti per storia e caratteristiche mai ideati dalla Commodore Business Machines LTD. Molto raro, è oggetto del desiderio di ogni appassionato e collezionista Commodore.
Commodore: A Company on the Edge
Brian Bagnall. Variant Press, 2010
Filled with first-hand accounts of ambition, greed, and inspired engineering, this history of the personal computer revolution takes readers inside the cutthroat world of Commodore. Before Apple, IBM, or Dell, Commodore was the first computer maker to market its machines to the public, eventually selling an estimated 22 million Commodore 64s. These halcyon days were tumultuous, however, owing to the expectations and unsparing tactics of founder Jack Tramiel. Engineers and managers share their experiences between 1976 and 1984 of the groundbreaking moments, soaring highs, and stunning employee turnover that came with being on top of the world in the early computer business.
Competing On Internet Time
David B. Yoffie, Michael A. Cusumano. Free Press, 1999
Competing on Internet time means competitive advantage can be won and lost overnight. In this penetrating analysis of strategy-making and product innovation in the dynamic markets of commercial cyberspace, bestselling Microsoft Secrets co-author Michael Cusumano and top competitive strategy expert David Yoffie draw vital lessons from Netscape, the first pure Internet company, and how it has employed the techniques of “judo strategy” in its pitched battle with Microsoft, the world's largest software producer. From on-site observation and more than 50 in-depth interviews at Netscape and other companies, Cusumano and Yoffie construct a blueprint meticulously detailing how the fastest-growing software company in history has competed on Internet time by moving rapidly to new products and markets, staying flexible, and exploiting leverage that uses the weight of its giant rival Microsoft against it. The main source of Netscape's leverage, they argue, has been its skill in designing products that run on multiple operating systems. Microsoft has responded with judo techniques in kind. Managers in every high-tech industry will discover a wealth of new ideas on how to create and scale-up a new company quickly; how to compete in fast-paced, unpredictable industries; and how to design products for rapidly evolving markets. The lessons that Cusumano and Yoffie derive from Netscape's contest with Microsoft go far beyond start-ups and Internet software. Small companies in any industry and powerful, established firms alike will welcome the principles the authors formulate from this David-and-Goliath-like struggle. Competing on Internet Time is essential and instructive reading for all managers, engineers, and entrepreneurs who want to succeed in ultra-fast-paced markets.
DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporation
Edgar H. Schein, Paul J. Kampas, Michael M. Sonduck, Peter S. Delisi. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2003
DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC tells the 40-year story of the creation, demise, and enduring legacy of one of the pioneering companies of the computer age. Digital Equipment Corporation created the minicomputer, networking, the concept of distributed computing, speech recognition, and other major innovations. It was the number two computer maker behind IBM. Yet it ultimately failed as a business and was sold to Compaq Corporation. What happened? Edgar Schein consulted to DEC throughout its history and so had unparalleled access to all the major players, and an inside view of all the major events. He shows how the unique organizational culture established by DEC's founder, Ken Olsen, gave the company important competitive advantages in its early years, but later became a hindrance and ultimately led to the company's downfall. Schein, Kampas, DeLisi, and Sonduck explain in detail how a particular culture can become so embedded that an organization is unable to adapt to changing circumstances even though it sees the need very clearly. The essential elements of DEC's culture are still visible in many other organizations today, and most former employees are so positive about their days at DEC that they attempt to reproduce its culture in their current work situations. In the era of post-dot.com meltdown, raging debate about companies “built to last” vs. “built to sell,” and more entrepreneurial startups than ever, the rise and fall of DEC is the ultimate case study.
Digital Equipment Corporation: (Images of America: Massachusetts)
Alan R. Earls. Arcadia Publishing, 2004.
From its inception in 1957, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), headquartered in Maynard, Massachusetts, carved itself a role in American business unlike any other company. Launched by Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineer Ken Olsen with a $70,000 investment from the country's first venture capital firm, DEC rapidly became a pioneer in computer technology. In its heyday, DEC had a valuation of more than $12 billion and employed approximately one hundred twenty thousand people worldwide, making it second only to IBM. Its people and technology contributed to making computers increasingly affordable, which led directly to the advent of the personal computer, the first computer games, and computer networks. DEC was also a leader in the Internet revolution, claiming the dubious distinction of launching the first spam mailing and registering one of the first commercial domain names. Through photographs of people, events, and machines, Digital Equipment Corporation tells the story of the unassuming computer revolutionaries who reshaped the technological world. It is written for anyone who is interested in how the present era of computing ubiquity has evolved since the 1940s, when IBM chairman Thomas Watson predicted that the whole world might need no more than five computers.
Eniac: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer
Scott McCartney. Berkley Trade, 1999
ENIAC is the story of John Mauchly and Presper Eckert, the men who built the first digital, electronic computer. Their three-year race to create the legendary ENIAC is a compelling tale of brilliance and misfortune that has never been told before. It was the size of a three-bedroom apartment, weighed 30 tons, and cost nearly half a million dollars to build-and $650 an hour to run. But in 1945, this behemoth was the cutting edge in technology, and a herald of the digital age to come. This “little gem of a book” tells the story of this machine and the men who built it-as well as the secrecy, controversy, jealousy, and lawsuits that surrounded it-in a compelling real-life techno-thriller.
Hypergrowth: The rise and fall of Osborne Computer Corporation
Adam Osborne, John C. Dvorak. Idthekkethan Pub. Co., 1984
Osborne Computer Corporation shipped the world's first portable computer in July 1981. Less then a year later, in August 1982, the company had its first ten million dollar month. Its best quarter even ended in February 1983, yet little more than six month later, in the midst of intense media coverage, the company went bankrupt. What happened? Adam Osborne and John Dvorak recount the complete history of Osborne Computer Corporation, from its improbable beginnings to its astonishing heights and the subsequent, equally improbable collapse. The authors provide starting revelations which suggest that there may have been more to the bankrupcy than met the eye. In this fast-paced first-person account, Osborne spares no one, including himself. His observations are both provocative and controversial.
I Am Error: The Nintendo Family Computer / Entertainment System Platform
Nathan Altice. MIT Press, 2015
In the 1987 Nintendo Entertainment System videogame Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, a character famously declared: I AM ERROR. Puzzled players assumed that this cryptic mesage was a programming flaw, but it was actually a clumsy Japanese-English translation of “My Name is Error,” a benign programmer's joke. In I AM ERROR Nathan Altice explores the complex material histories of the Nintendo Entertainment System (and its Japanese predecessor, the Family Computer), offering a detailed analysis of its programming and engineering, its expressive affordances, and its cultural significance. Nintendo games were rife with mistranslated texts, but, as Altice explains, Nintendo's translation challenges were not just linguistic but also material, with consequences beyond simple misinterpretation. Emphasizing the technical and material evolution of Nintendo's first cartridge-based platform, Altice describes the development of the Family Computer (or Famicom) and its computational architecture; the “translation” problems faced while adapting the Famicom for the U.S. videogame market as the redesigned Entertainment System; Nintendo's breakthrough console title Super Mario Bros. and its remarkable software innovations; the introduction of Nintendo's short-lived proprietary disk format and the design repercussions on The Legend of Zelda; Nintendo's efforts to extend their console's lifespan through cartridge augmentations; the Famicom's Audio Processing Unit (APU) and its importance for the chiptunes genre; and the emergence of software emulators and the new kinds of play they enabled.
IBM's 360 and Early 370 Systems
Emerson W. Pugh, Lyle R. Johnson, John H. Palmer. MIT Press, 1991
No new product offering has had greater impact on the computer industrythan the IBM System/360. IBM's 360 and Early 370 Systems describes the creation ofthis remarkable system and the developments it spawned, including its successor, System/370. The authors tell how System/360's widely-copied architecture came intobeing and how IBM failed in an effort to replace it ten years later with a bolddevelopment effort called FS, the Future System. Along the way they detail thedevelopment of many computer innovations still in use, among them semiconductormemories, the cache, floppy disks, and Winchester disk files. They conclude bylooking at issues involved in managing research and development and striving forproduct leadership.While numerous anecdotal and fragmentary accounts of System/360and System/370 development exist, this is the first comprehensive account, a resultof research into IBM records, published reports, and interviews with over a hundredparticipants. Covering the period from about 1960 to 1975, it highlights suchimportant topics as the gamble on hybrid circuits, conception and achievement of aunified product line, memory and storage developments, software support, uniqueproblems at the high end of the line, monolithic integrated circuit developments, and the trend toward terminal-oriented systems.System/360 was developed during thetransition from discrete transistors to integrated circuits at the crucial time whenthe major source of IBM's revenue was changed from punched-card equipment toelectronic computer systems. As the authors point out, the key to the system'ssuccess was compatibility among its many models. So important was this to customersthat System/370 and its successors have remained compatible with System/360. Manycompanies in fact chose to develop and market their own 360-370 compatible systems.System/360 also spawned an entire industry dedicated to making plug-compatibleproducts for attachment to it.The authors, all affiliated with IBM Research, arecoauthors of IBM's Early Computers, a critically acclaimed technical historycovering the period before 1960.
IBM's Early Computers
Charles J. Bashe, Emerson W. Pugh. MIT Press, 1985
In describing the technical experiences of one company from the beginning of the computer era, this book unfolds the challenges that IBM's research and development laboratories faced, the technological paths they chose, and how these choices affected the company and the computer industry. It chronicles the transformation of IBM into a computer company in a remarkably few years, discussing projects that ended in frustration as well as the more successful ones, and providing a sense of the atmosphere, the people, and the decision-making processes involved during the company's rapid technological transformation. IBM's Early Computers is a unique contribution to the modern history of computers. It focuses on engineering alternatives rather than business and general management considerations and reveals the significance of imaginative solutions to problems in design and technology, from initial experiments with electronics in digital machines to the threshold of the System 360 era. This fair and balanced account of IBM's role in shaping today's electronic revolution identifies the individuals (both inside and outside the company) whose pioneering work influenced developments at IBM. The book's fourteen chapters briefly survey the card machine era and then cover electronic calculation, the magnetic drum calculator, the Defense Calculator and other first-generation products, ferrite core memories, magnetic tape, and disk storage development, programming, transistors, “Project Stretch” (which involved disappointments but led to one of IBM's greatest successes) high-speed printers, research, and new-product-line considerations.
Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer that Changed Everything
Steven Levy. Penguin Books, 1993
The creation of the Mac in 1984 catapulted America into the digital millennium, captured a fanatic cult audience, and transformed the computer industry into an unprecedented mix of technology, economics, and show business. Now veteran technology writer and Newsweek senior editor Steven Levy zooms in on the great machine and the fortunes of the unique company responsible for its evolution. Loaded with anecdote and insight, and peppered with sharp commentary, Insanely Great is the definitive book on the most important computer ever made. It is a must-have for anyone curious about how we got to the interactive age.
From Whirlwind to MITRE: The R&D Story of the SAGE Air Defense Computer
Kent C. Redmond, Thomas M. Smith. MIT Press, 2000
This book presents an organizational and social history of one of the foundational projects of the computer era: the development of the SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) air defense system, from its first test at Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1951, to the installation of the first unit of the New York Air Defense Sector of the SAGE system, in 1958. The idea for SAGE grew out of Project Whirlwind, a wartime computer development effort, when the U.S. Department of Defense realized that the Whirlwind computer might anchor a continent-wide advance warning system. Developed by MIT engineers and scientists for the U.S. Air Force, SAGE monitored North American skies for possible attack by manned aircraft and missiles for twenty-five years.Aside from its strategic importance, SAGE set the foundation for mass data-processing systems and foreshadowed many computer developments of the 1960s. The heart of the system, the AN/FSQ-7, was the first computer to have an internal memory composed of “magnetic cores,” thousands of tiny ferrite rings that served as reversible electromagnets. SAGE also introduced computer-driven displays, online terminals, time sharing, high-reliability computation, digital signal processing, digital transmission over telephone lines, digital track-while-scan, digital simulation, computer networking, and duplex computing.The book shows how the wartime alliance of engineers, scientists, and the military exemplified by MIT's Radiation Lab helped to transform research and development practice in the United States through the end of the Cold War period.
Now the Chips Are Down: The BBC Micro
Alison Gazzard. MIT Press, 2016.
In 1982, the British Broadcasting Corporation launched its Computer Literacy Project, intended “to introduce interested adults to the world of computers and computing.” The BBC accompanied this initiative with television programs, courses, books, and software–an early experiment in multi-platform education. The BBC, along with Acorn Computers, also introduced the BBC Microcomputer, which would be at the forefront of the campaign. The BBC Micro was designed to meet the needs of users in homes and schools, to demystify computing, and to counter the general pessimism among the media in Britain about technology. In this book, Alison Gazzard looks at the BBC Micro, examining the early capabilities of multi-platform content generation and consumption and the multiple literacies this approach enabled–not only in programming and software creation, but also in accessing information across a range of media, and in “do-it-yourself” computing. She links many of these early developments to current new-media practices. Gazzard looks at games developed for the BBC Micro, including Granny's Garden, an educational game for primary schools, and Elite, the seminal space-trading game. She considers the shift in focus from hardware to peripherals, describing the Teletext Adapter as an early model for software distribution and the Domesday Project (which combined texts, video, and still photographs) as a hypermedia-like experience. Gazzard's account shows the BBC Micro not only as a vehicle for various literacies but also as a user-oriented machine that pushed the boundaries of what could be achieved in order to produce something completely new.
On the Edge: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore
Brian Bagnall. Variant Press, 2005
Filled with first-hand accounts of ambition, greed, and inspired engineering, this history of the personal computer revolution takes readers inside the cutthroat world of Commodore. Before Apple, IBM, or Dell, Commodore was the first computer maker to market its machines to the public, selling an estimated 22 million Commodore 64s. These halcyon days were tumultuous, however, owing to the expectations and unsparing tactics of founder Jack Tramiel. Engineers and managers with the company between 1976 and 1994 share their experiences of the groundbreaking moments, soaring business highs, and stunning employee turnover that came along with being on top of the PC world in the early days.
Open: How Compaq Ended IBM's PC Domination and Helped Invent Modern Computing
Rod Canion. BenBella Books, 2013
The story of Compaq is well-known: Three ex-Texas Instruments managers founded Compaq with modest venture funding. Just four years later, Compaq was on the Fortune 500 list, and, two years after that, they had exceeded $1 billion in annual revenue. No company had ever achieved these milestones so rapidly. But few know the story behind the story. In 1982, when Compaq was founded, there was no software standardization, so every brand of personal computer required its own unique application software. Just eight years later, compatibility with the open PC standard had become ubiquitous, and it has continued to be for over two decades. This didn’t happen by accident. Cofounder and then CEO Rod Canion and his team made a series of risky and daring decisions—often facing criticism and incredulity—that allowed the open PC standard marketplace to thrive and the incredible benefits of open computing to be realized. A never-before-published insider account of Compaq’s extraordinary strategies and decisions, Open provides valuable lessons in leadership in times of crisis, management decision-making under the pressure of extraordinary growth, and the power of a unique, pervasive culture. Open tells the incredible story of Compaq’s meteoric rise from humble beginnings to become the PC industry leader in just over a decade. Along the way, Compaq helped change the face of computing while establishing the foundation for today’s world of tablets and smart phones.
Peripheral Vision: Bell Labs, the S-C 4020, and the Origins of Computer Art
Zabet Patterson. MIT Press,2015
In 1959, the electronics manufacturer Stromberg-Carlson produced the S-C 4020, a device that allowed mainframe computers to present and preserve images. In the mainframe era, the output of text and image was quite literally peripheral; the S-C 4020—a strange and elaborate apparatus, with a cathode ray screen, a tape deck, a buffer unit, a film camera, and a photo-paper camera—produced most of the computer graphics of the late 1950s and early 1960s. At Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, the S-C 4020 became a crucial part of ongoing encounters among art, science, and technology. In this book, Zabet Patterson examines the extraordinary uses to which the Bell Labs SC-2040 was put between 1961 and 1972, exploring a series of early computer art projects shaped by the special computational affordances of the S-C 4020.
Priming the Pump: How TRS-80 Enthusiasts Helped Spark the PC Revolution
David Welsh, Theresa Welsh. The Seeker Books, 2007
Priming the Pump: How TRS-80 Microcomputer Enthusiasts Helped Spark the PC Revolution by David Welsh and Theresa Welsh takes you back to the largely unknown origins of personal computing. Personal computers grew out of a hobbyist movement in the 1970s, as some began experimenting with the new microchips, building their own computers. Kit computers appeared, available from small mail order companies, but the computer that brought a wider audience to personal computing was the TRS-80 Model I, introduced by Tandy Corporation in August 1977. It was the first complete mass market, off-the-shelf microcomputer that anyone could buy for $599.95. And it was available at 3500 Radio Shack stores nationwide. Introduction of the TRS-80 meant, for the first time, anyone could experiment with software and affordably use word processing, spreadsheets, accounting, database and other applications… except for one thing: there weren't any programs. So, of necessity, new computer owners became programmers, and enterprising individuals working in basements and garages created the software everyone wanted. Many of them had never done any programming before. The authors were part of a community of entrepreneurs who sold software for the TRS-80. Besides telling their own story, they also collected stories from key innovators from that era, including some who had never been interviewed before about their contributions to computing. The technology that originated with these amazing microcomputer pioneers went on to change life in fundamental ways and their stories are the heart of this book.There were programmers who created fabulous games like Dancing Demon, Microchess, Oregon Trail and the Scott Adams Adventures; there were rivals who created five different Disk Operating Systems for the TRS-80 and one man's fight with Tandy over who owned the code; there were scam artists who offered products that were too good to be true, and brilliant visionaries who were first with software features later “invented” by big companies with more money but not more talent. The authors relate how Don French, a computer hobbyist who worked for Radio Shack at the time, suggested to his bosses that they capitalize on the latest craze, home-built computers. Radio Shack took a chance and hired young Steve Leininger away from Silicon Valley and told him to build a machine they could sell cheap. Working alone in an old saddle factory in Fort Worth, he built the first TRS-80; its total development costs were less than $150,000. Author David Welsh was one of those self-taught computer-buyer/programmers. He created a word processor, Lazy Writer, and, working with his wife Theresa, sold copies worldwide to enthusiastic fans who were eager to ditch their typewriters. This was before Microsoft was a household word, when software was new and exciting and everyone was learning. Software generally had only one author, and programmers were proud of their work; some became stars. David and Thesesa Welsh, who lived through it all, have captured the defining moments and excitement of this era, with the untold stories from the microcomputer pioneers whose efforts and love for their “trash-80” helped spark the PC revolution that followed.
Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System
Nick Montfort, Ian Bogost. MIT Press, 2009
The Atari Video Computer System dominated the home video game market so completely that “Atari” became the generic term for a video game console. The Atari VCS was affordable and offered the flexibility of changeable cartridges. Nearly a thousand of these were created, the most significant of which established new techniques, mechanics, and even entire genres. This book offers a detailed and accessible study of this influential video game console from both computational and cultural perspectives. Studies of digital media have rarely investigated platforms–the systems underlying computing. This book (the first in a series of Platform Studies) does so, developing a critical approach that examines the relationship between platforms and creative expression. Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost discuss the Atari VCS itself and examine in detail six game cartridges: Combat, Adventure, Pac-Man, Yars' Revenge, Pitfall!, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. They describe the technical constraints and affordances of the system and track developments in programming, gameplay, interface, and aesthetics. Adventure, for example, was the first game to represent a virtual space larger than the screen (anticipating the boundless virtual spaces of such later games as World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto), by allowing the player to walk off one side into another space; and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was an early instance of interaction between media properties and video games. Montfort and Bogost show that the Atari VCS–often considered merely a retro fetish object–is an essential part of the history of video games.
Revolution in the Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made
Andy Hertzfeld. O'Reilly Media, 2004
There was a time, not too long ago, when the typewriter and notebook ruled, and the computer as an everyday tool was simply a vision. Revolution in the Valley traces this vision back to its earliest roots: the hallways and backrooms of Apple, where the groundbreaking Macintosh computer was born. The book traces the development of the Macintosh, from its inception as an underground skunkworks project in 1979 to its triumphant introduction in 1984 and beyond. The stories in Revolution in the Valley come on extremely good authority. That's because author Andy Hertzfeld was a core member of the team that built the Macintosh system software, and a key creator of the Mac's radically new user interface software. One of the chosen few who worked with the mercurial Steve Jobs, you might call him the ultimate insider. When Revolution in the Valley begins, Hertzfeld is working on Apple's first attempt at a low-cost, consumer-oriented computer: the Apple II. He sees that Steve Jobs is luring some of the company's most brilliant innovators to work on a tiny research effort the Macintosh. Hertzfeld manages to make his way onto the Macintosh research team, and the rest is history. Through lavish illustrations, period photos, and Hertzfeld's vivid first-hand accounts, Revolution in the Valley reveals what it was like to be there at the birth of the personal computer revolution. The story comes to life through the book's portrait of the talented and often eccentric characters who made up the Macintosh team. Now, over 20 years later, millions of people are benefiting from the technical achievements of this determined and brilliant group of people.
Sophistication and Simplicity: The Life and Times of the Apple II Computer
Steven Weyhrich. Variant Press, 2013
Despite humble beginnings, today Apple, Inc. enjoys unprecedented popularity and prosperity with its products, routinely selling over a million devices in a single day. It is a major innovator in the computing and consumer landscape, and as shown in this retrospective, the history of the Apple II computer plays a large part in the current successes of the company. The late 1970s saw the dawn of the Apple II, the company's first hit product. It provided the breathing room for Apple to become self-sustaining and ultimately blossom into one of the greatest business and technology successes in history. This account provides a unique view of early personal computing and Apple as a company, focusing almost exclusively on the role of the Apple II within that story. It extends outward to the products, publications, and early online services that made up the ecosystem for the platform during its active years, and follows the story to present-day enthusiasts who still find new things to do with a computer that got its start more than 35 years ago.
Show Stopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft
G. Pascal Zachary. Free Press, 1994
Showstopper is the dramatic, inside story of the creation of Windows NT, told by Wall Street Journal reporter G. Pascal Zachary. Driven by the legendary David Cutler, a picked band of software engineers sacrifices almost everything in their lives to build a new, stable, operating system aimed at giving Microsoft a platform for growth through the next decade of development in the computing business. Comparable in many ways to the Pulitzer Prize–winning book The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder, Showstopper gets deep inside the process of software development, the lives and motivations of coders and the pressure to succeed coupled with the drive for originality and perfection that can pull a diverse team together to create a program consisting of many hundreds of thousands of lines of code.
Sunburst: The Ascent of Sun Microsystems
Mark Hall, John Barry. McGraw-Hill/Contemporary, 1990
In the volatile, high-stakes arena of the Silicon Valley computer industry, few corporate stars have consistently blazed as brightly as Sun Microsystems. Rising from start-up to present-day revenues of over $1 billion in just six years, Sun has not only survived the competitive and technological land mines that annihilate many a fledgling business; it has succeeded - and it has done so spectacularly. Sun Microsystems exploded into the computer business world with amazing speed and force in 1982. With an innovative new machine - a high-performance desktop computer capable of handling even complex scientific tasks - four men still in their twenties combined their marketing savvy, business drive, and engineering talent to create a company that within four years of its founding would ascend to the number one position in the workstation marketplace. Within six years, it would be recognized as an industry leader. Sun's unique marketing tactics and sheer business chutzpah have outraged most of its competitors - and resulted in an almost unprecedented rate of success for the upstart firm. In the history of high-tech business, only one other firm has exceeded Sun's growth in terms of speed and size. Where others imitate, though, Sun invents. While others jockey for a share of shelf space, Sun goes for a share of mind. In this high-voltage account, authors Mark Hall and John Barry tell the story of an amazing start-up success. The history of Sun Microsystems is, however, much more than an inside look at the exciting and perilous world of start-up technologies. It's an object lesson in how to build a major corporation able to compete with companies ten, twenty, even fifty times its size. It's an exploration of the innovative corporate cultural traits that have enabled Sun to beat out its competition, from fellow upstarts to the “big dogs” such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM - traits that may well represent a formula for what it takes to be successful in today's world.
The Charisma Machine: The Life, Death, and Legacy of One Laptop Per Child
Morgan G. Ames. MIT Press, 2019
In The Charisma Machine, Morgan Ames chronicles the life and legacy of the One Laptop per Child project and explains why–despite its failures–the same utopian visions that inspired OLPC still motivate other projects trying to use technology to “disrupt” education and development. Announced in 2005 by MIT Media Lab cofounder Nicholas Negroponte, One Laptop per Child promised to transform the lives of children across the Global South with a small, sturdy, and cheap laptop computer, powered by a hand crank. In reality, the project fell short in many ways–starting with the hand crank, which never materialized. Yet the project remained charismatic to many who were captivated by its claims of access to educational opportunities previously out of reach. Behind its promises, OLPC, like many technology projects that make similarly grand claims, had a fundamentally flawed vision of who the computer was made for and what role technology should play in learning. Drawing on fifty years of history and a seven-month study of a model OLPC project in Paraguay, Ames reveals that the laptops were not only frustrating to use, easy to break, and hard to repair, they were designed for “technically precocious boys”–idealized younger versions of the developers themselves–rather than the children who were actually using them. The Charisma Machine offers a cautionary tale about the allure of technology hype and the problems that result when utopian dreams drive technology development.
The Dirty Book Vol. 2 N. 1
Bourbon Street Press, 1982
A catalog of “erotic” software for microcomputers, dated First Quarter, 1982. Includes order form!
The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga
Jimmy Maher. MIT Press, 2012
Long ago, in 1985, personal computers came in two general categories: the friendly, childish game machine used for fun (exemplified by Atari and Commodore products); and the boring, beige adult box used for business (exemplified by products from IBM). The game machines became fascinating technical and artistic platforms that were of limited real-world utility. The IBM products were all utility, with little emphasis on aesthetics and no emphasis on fun. Into this bifurcated computing environment came the Commodore Amiga 1000. This personal computer featured a palette of 4,096 colors, unprecedented animation capabilities, four-channel stereo sound, the capacity to run multiple applications simultaneously, a graphical user interface, and powerful processing potential. It was, Jimmy Maher writes in The Future Was Here, the world’s first true multimedia personal computer. Maher argues that the Amiga’s capacity to store and display color photographs, manipulate video (giving amateurs access to professional tools), and use recordings of real-world sound were the seeds of the digital media future: digital cameras, Photoshop, MP3 players, and even YouTube, Flickr, and the blogosphere. He examines different facets of the platform–from Deluxe Paint to AmigaOS to Cinemaware–in each chapter, creating a portrait of the platform and the communities of practice that surrounded it. Of course, Maher acknowledges, the Amiga was not perfect: the DOS component of the operating systems was clunky and ill-matched, for example, and crashes often accompanied multitasking attempts. And Commodore went bankrupt in 1994. But for a few years, the Amiga’s technical qualities were harnessed by engineers, programmers, artists, and others to push back boundaries and transform the culture of computing.
The Making of Prince of Persia: Journals 1985-1993–Illustrated Edition
Jordan Mechner. Stripe Press, 2020
Before Prince of Persia was a best-selling video game franchise and a Disney movie, it was an Apple II computer game created and programmed by one person, Jordan Mechner. Mechner's candid and revealing journals from the time capture the journey from his parents’ basement to the forefront of the fast-growing 1980s video game industry… and the creative, technical, and personal struggles that brought the prince into being and ultimately into the homes of millions of people worldwide. Now, on the 30th anniversary of Prince of Persia’s release, Mechner looks back at the journals he kept from 1985 to 1993, offering new insights into the game that established him as a pioneer of cinematic storytelling in the industry. This beautifully illustrated and annotated collector’s edition includes: 300 pages of Jordan’s original journals, Present-day margin notations by Jordan adding explanation, context, and affectionate cartoons of real-life characters, Archival visuals illustrating the stages of the game’s creation, Work-in-progress sketches, rotoscoped animation, screen shots, interface design, memos, and more, A full-color 32-page “Legacy” section in which Jordan and fans share Prince of Persia memories from the past 30 years, including the Ubisoft games and Disney movie. The Making of Prince of Persia is both a tribute to a timeless classic, and an indelible look at the creative process that will resonate with retro-gaming fans, game developers, and writers, artists, and creators of all stripes.
The Sierra Adventure: The Story of Sierra On-Line
Shawn Mills. Self published, 2018.
The Sierra Adventure tells the story of legendary computer game company Sierra On-Line, developer of industry defining titles such as King’s Quest, Quest for Glory, and Leisure Suit Larry. Through interviews with over fifty of the key players at Sierra, management, producers, artists, designers, musicians, and marketting tell the story of Sierra, in their own words.
The Wozpak Special Edition: Steve Wozniak's Apple-1 & Apple ][ Computers
Bill Martens, Brian Wiser. Lulu.com, 2016.
The WOZPAK Special Edition is a compilation of original documents created by Steve Wozniak and other Apple legends including: Randy Wigginton, Andy Hertzfeld, Keith Walls, Robert Clardy, Allen Baum, Val Golding, Don Williams, Bob Huelsdonk, and Wendell Sander. Many are original typed or hand written documents and drawings detailing the Apple-1 and Apple ][ Computers. The WOZPAK includes forwards from six of the legends whose work is included in the book.
UNIX: A History and a Memoir
Brian W. Kernighan. Self published, 2019.
The fascinating story of how Unix began and how it took over the world. Brian Kernighan was a member of the original group of Unix developers, the creator of several fundamental Unix programs, and the co-author of classic books like “The C Programming Language” and “The Unix Programming Environment.”
We Love Atari
Karl Morris. Zafinn Books, 2019
View the Atari story as it unfolds with period advertising and product images, lightly sprinkled with interesting facts and historical snapshots of the Atari story as it happened. From the very first Pong arcade machine, to Atari's first home computers, “We Love Atari” is a tribute to one of the worlds most iconic companies, loved by millions and still loved today.