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Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date Paperback – September 13, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; Reprint edition (September 13, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887308554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887308550
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Robert X. Cringely manages to capture the contradictions and everyday insanity of computer industry empire building, while at the same time chipping away sardonically at the PR campaigns that have built up some very common businesspeople into the household gods of geekdom. Despite some chuckles at the expense of all things nerdy, white, and male in the computer industry, Cringely somehow manages to balance the humor with a genuine appreciation of both the technical and strategic accomplishments of these industry luminaries. Whether you're a hard-boiled Silicon Valley marketing exec fishing for an IPO or just a plain old reader with an interest in business history and anecdotal storytelling, there's something to enjoy here.

From Publishers Weekly

Rich in relevant, entertaining digressions, this breezy but informative history recounts how gifted, maverick "nerds," "hippies" and entrepreneurs like Apple's Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs invented and developed microprocessors and operating systems into today's volatile, ego-driven, highly competitive personal computer industry, in which ever-changing technical standards propel the market. Info World columnist Cringley charges that the astronomical sales of PCs ($70-billion worldwide in 1990) "both created the longest continuous peacetime economic expansion in U.S. history and ended it." While current dominance by IBM spurs competitors to further research and networking, the author predicts that by the year 2000 single chips will render today's PCs obsolete and that of American technology only software will survive.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I found this book to be very entertaining and fun to read.
M. Saunders
I would recommend this book as an ESSENTIAL READ for ANYONE who is even REMOTELY thinking of starting their own business.
Vic Thesenvitz
The book has many strengths and very few weaknesses, which mainly come from the information packed writing style.
"monorage"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you're interested in the birth and growth of the PC industry this is your guide!
After I saw the TV series I wanted to have the book, I even mailed Bob Cringely for the ISBN. A book like this could be a rather dull book, but this isn't one of those. This is a great book full of facts served with plenty of humour. Cringely was there when it happened, he knows what he's writing about. This book tells you about never released software, missed opportunities, killer applications, where the GUI came from, and much more in a language that isn't just for nerds.
I've read this book twice, I'm pretty sure I'll read it again...
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Isaacs on July 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
As someone who's been working in Silicon Valley for years, I found this book interesting for its insight into the history of the computer business and the strong personalities who created it. It focuses on the early giants of IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Compaq, and the like, well before the Internet became a popular medium. The book highlighted for me how much an industry is shaped by the people and their peculiarities, and how the culture of an organization shapes its perception of and reaction to events.
Still, Cringley's smug, know-it-all attitude detracted from the book and made me question the credibility of his analysis. He paints people in black and white strokes, often portraying the object of his ridicule as blind to the obviously correct course of action. Cringely is especially harsh on people he perceives as ego-driven and insecure, which, ironically, is just how he struck me.
I suspect people who are not particularly tied into the computer culture won't find this worth reading. But if you are among those hooked on the computer industry and you can get past Cringely's attitude, the book has some useful insights, anecdotes, and facts.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Walter Nicolau on September 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Accidental Empires is the suggestive title of a journey into the story of computing starting from its humble beginnings during the early seventies and ending just before the Internet revolution. It is by all means a fascinating account of the people and events that shaped the marketplace and gave it a direction and turned it into a multibillion industry. I still find it hard to believe that the first computer available on the market came in unassembled parts and the user had to put it together and the end product had no harddrive, no OS, and no applications to run. And this happened only 25 years ago...
As a journalist for Infoworld, Cringely leads us with a firm hand and clear passion for disentangling the intricate dependencies and relationships that reign in the computing industry. His book is a well informed account of the evolution of operating systems, hardware, networking, and print technologies starting from the day these were just wild ideas. Although the lecture may sound a little too technical and hence a bit complicated, this book is easy to follow. Through Cringely's talent we get a (funny but very plausible) portrait of the people, their desires, shortcommings, and in most cases genius and totally obsessive personalities.
Apart for the obvious animosity that the author nurtures towards Gates and Jobs whom he claims to be to various degrees true sociopaths, one with ambition to dominate the world, the other one to be accepted and loved, I find the whole overview to be an objective and informative account of the fascinating and tumultuous evolution of computing as we know today.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sheryl Katz VINE VOICE on August 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was a book that launched a genre - the sarcastic, gossipy fast-paced insiders look at the computer industry. It's still one of the best of its kind even though it is now pretty dated.
I work in a company on the fringe of the computer industry. Sometimes co-workers come and ask me what to read to understand the industry. This is the first book I give them. The stories in this book, how Microsoft beat IBM, how Apple grew, etc. are the fundamental mythology of the industry. If you work in or near the industry you ought to read this book. As some other reviewers have noted, the tone will make some readers cringe a bit, but the tone is pretty depictive of the way in which many people in the industry actually see things.
The only reason I didn't give this book five stars is because it is a bit dated. Most of the stories have been told later and better by others so if you've already read a lot of the books about the industry this one will seem a bit old. Although I do still think this book is worth reading even if you've read the others.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on December 5, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I started reading this book while curled up on the couch next to a friend who was trying to watch a soccer match. He finally told me to stop snickering or leave the room. I had to leave the room.
_Accidental Empires_ is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time and as someone who works as a consultant for one of the companies roasted in its pages, I have to say that the passage of time has not made its commentary any less true. Also insightful, well-written, witty, etc.
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