On the Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore

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9780973864908: On the Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore

Between 1976 and 1994, Commodore had astounding success in the nascent personal computer business. Amid the chaos and infighting, Commodore was able to achieve some remarkable industry firsts. They were the first major company to show a personal computer, even before Apple and Radio Shack. They sold a million computers before anyone else. No single computer has sold more than the Commodore 64. The first true multimedia computer, the Amiga, came from Commodore. Yet with all these milestones, Commodore receives almost no credit as a pioneer. Commodore was one of the only companies with the ability to make silicon, and the results were obvious. They had more creativity, more color, and more character than the competition. While Apple and IBM charged exorbitant prices, Commodore was able to reach the masses with affordable computers while remaining profitable. The Commodore 64 cut a path of destruction through the early industry, knocking Tandy, Texas Instruments, Sinclair, and Atari out of the computer business and badly hurting Apple and even IBM. While other companies received more press, Commodore sold more computers. Yet Commodore never reached a comfortable position. They were always on the verge of blinding success or abysmal failure. Commodore’s volatile founder, Jack Tramiel, lived on the edge, and he made sure his employees lived there too. On the Edge: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore tells the story through over 44 hours of interviews with former engineers and managers: Chuck Peddle, the digital God who created a revolution with the 6502 chip and designed the PET computer. Al Charpentier, the chain smoking architect of Commodore’s revolutionary graphics chips. Bob Yannes, the frustrated musician and synthesizer aficionado who designed the Commodore 64 and the SID sound chip. Bil Herd, the unruly engineer who created the maligned Plus/4 and later sought redemption with the C128. The Amiga engineers, who created the first true multimedia system even before the word multimedia existed. Irving Gould, financier and majority shareholder who rescued Commodore in the sixties, then allowed it to wither.

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About the Author:

Brian Bagnall is the author of several computer books for McGraw-Hill, Prentice-Hall PTR, and Syngress Publishing. His latest book, Core Lego Mindstorms Programming, has been translated into French and Japanese. He is a frequent contributor to Old-Computers.com, an online museum dedicated to preserving computer history.

Review:

"[F]ascinating and improbably hilarious."  J. Edward Keyes, Philadelphia City Paper

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Bagnall, Brian
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