Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer, Collector's Edition

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9780071358958: Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer, Collector's Edition

In 1984, two beat reporters wrote what has since become the seminal work on the creation of the PC industry. Now back by popular demand, this updated re-issue of Fire in the Valley contains more outrageous tales about, and photos of, the individuals that created the personal computer.This is the story of those pioneering individuals and the industry they founded, often in their own words, but always with an insider's view. A fascinating account of an idea that caught fire, Fire in the Valley became the basis for TNT's Original Movie Pirates of Silicon Valley that aired early summer 1999.

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Review:

This is not a computer book but rather a fascinating history of the personal computer. Even if the computer isn't your thing, and you don't remember arguing with Commodore 64, Apple II, and TRS-80 owners over whose computer was the best, you'll find the writing engaging and the subject matter more than entertaining. Who would have thought a bunch of misfit nerds could make history?

Fire in the Valley is an accurate, insightful, and often entertaining look at the many accidents and mistakes that eventually led to the computer you have on your desktop today. The history of the personal computer comprises a series of well-planned errors, with eccentric personalities floating from company to company, and geniuses so twisted they created for the sheer joy of it--never imagining the multibillion dollar industry that would result.

This book is magnetic. I started reading some of the Microsoft and Apple stories first, because I figured I would be more connected to the names Gates and Jobs than some of the earlier (and now retired) rabble-rousers. But the consistent and strong writing drew me in, and I found myself reading the entire thing. The entire story of the personal computer, from the vacuum tube to the iMac, is told and told well.

Fire in the Valley was originally published back in 1984. This copy is the "collector's edition," and updated to reflect contemporary issues. The book is hardbound, hence the hefty cover price. (It also has a CD-ROM.) I highly recommend it--especially for anyone who's into high tech and wants to understand the value of not putting creativity into a bottle. --Dan Gookin

Book Description:

In the early 1970s the personal computer was just a wild dream shared by a small group of computer enthusiasts in an area south of San Francisco now called Silicon Valley.

Working after-hours in basements and warehouses, computer pioneers Jobs and Wozniak of Apple Computer, Gates of Microsoft, Kildall of Digital Research, and many others ignited a technological revolution of astounding magnitude.

This is the story of those individuals and the industry they founded. It reveals the visions they shared, the sacrifices they made, and the rewards they reaped. A fascinating account of an idea that caught fire.

“Swaine and Freiberger capture the communal spirit of the early computer clubs, the brilliance and blundering of some of the first start-up companies, the assortment of naivete, noble purpose and greed that characterized various pioneers, and the inevitable transformation of all this into a major industry. Must reading." --Philip Lemmons, editor-in-chief, BYTE Magazine

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