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Apple Confidential: The Real Story of Apple Computer, Inc. Paperback – May 11, 1999

114 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Owen Linzmayer's Apple Confidential is subtitled The Real Story of Apple Computer, Inc., and while nobody will ever know the complete, "real" story about Apple, Linzmayer's is probably as close as they come. Having covered Apple news since 1980, he offers extensive insider details about Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, John Sculley, Gilbert Amelio, Bill Gates, and other major players whose lives were (and are) intertwined with Apple's history. And along the way, we also learn about lesser-known figures whose stories have remained hidden in the Apple myth: Ronald Gerald Wayne, for example, who was actually a partner with Wozniak and Jobs in the original incarnation of the company, but who sold his share when he realized he would be financially vulnerable if it should fail.

Linzmayer's tale does have a few drawbacks. Because he mixes a chronological narrative with chapters that focus on key points in the Apple story, he sometimes repeats himself. Case in point: the chapter "Big Bad Blunders" makes a great record of Apple's failures, but the story of the exploding Powerbook 5300s is duplicated at later points. Nonetheless, Apple Confidential is rife with gems that will appeal to Apple fanatics and followers of the computer industry. Especially enjoyable are the revelation of "Easter eggs" that are hidden in several versions of the Mac operating system; the many screen shots, timelines, and telling quotes from Jobs, Gates, Wozniak and others that populate the margins and concluding sections of each chapter; the "Code Names Uncovered" section that makes public the monikers of several secret Apple projects; and Bill Gates's 1985 letter to John Sculley and Jean Louis Gassee pleading for Apple to license Mac technology and develop a "standard personal computer." --Patrick O'Kelley

From Library Journal

For your Mac community, you can't go wrong with these titles. Linzmayer's Apple Confidential is an unofficial history of Apple and a great read. Pogue's MacWorld Mac Secrets explains all the oddities about any Mac still in use, while his iMac guide follows the format of the "Dummies" series. Poole's MacWorld Mac OS 8.5 Bible completely explains Mac 8.5, the newest operating system upgrade.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (May 11, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 188641128X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1886411289
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,278,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

263 of 265 people found the following review helpful By Jef Raskin on May 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Of all the books written on Apple's history, this one comes closest to accurately relating the story of how the Mac was created, and other early Apple events.
I can't personally vouch for Linzmeyer's discussion of more recent history, because I left Apple a while ago, but having seen the results of his careful research where I personally took part in the events, and having seen the massive inaccuracies in many other books, I'd bet on his.
Some other books are more exciting reads, but that's because they're partially fiction. Linzmeyer has done his homework. But don't get the impression that this book is dull; it's fun, with many interesting tidbits and historical photographs.
This is the book to read if you are interested in fact rather than legend.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By therosen VINE VOICE on April 18, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book combines gossip, history, trivia and the legends & lore of one of America's most fascinating companies. The story starts with the two Steves making and selling boxes to confuse the phone system into granting free calls. It chronicals the development of Apple computer from the first Apple through the Lisa, endless varities of Macintosh and today's iPod. Throughout the story, the massive ups and collosal failures of this American instution are laid bare.
The layout is interesting as well. As characters are introduced, the reader frequently wonders "What happened to them?" More often than not, the question is answered in a sidebar. This showed that Apple wasn't just a great product developer, but also a great developer of silicon valley talent.
The book details the extremes of the players personalities:
- How Jobs agreet to split the proceeds of an Atari deal with Woz, only to keep 90% of the income himself.
- How Woz forced the company to go public early by sharing his stock with too many employees.
- How Gasse talked folks out of liscencing the technology until it was too late.
- How several successive CEOs tried in vain to save the company.
The book also details some lesser known stories from Apple's storied past:
- How the 1984 commercial almost never made it.
- How the company decided to abandon Copland. (& Why!)
- How the company got sued by Carl Sagan, and how they dug their ditch a little deeper.
There's a lot of "Hows" here, which really shows how deep the author gets into the company's history and soul. You come away with not just a knowledge of the people, but their personalities and why exactly things turned out the way they did.
This book is excellent reading for anyone interested in the world of technology, and an absolute must for fans of Apple.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bob Sassone ( on March 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a must-have book for any fan of Apple. It's possibly the most thorough - yet still readable - history of the company. It mixes business facts, behind-the-scenes secrets, and pop culture tidbits beautifully. Along the way, you'll learn the ins and outs of other computer companies (Microsoft, IBM, AOL, NeXT, Power Computing, Xerox PARC, etc) and a lot about the history of the industry in general and the players in particular.
Linzmayer is the author of "The Mac Bathroom Reader," and knows what he's talking about. Not only does "Apple Confindential" add more history that wasn't in that volume, but it's redesigned, updated to this year, and includes Steve Jobs' return and the iMac success.
In a word, breathtaking: It has quotes from everyone involved, timelines, products lists, a history, a little opinion, analysis, stock info, classic pictures. It's all here.
I'd write more, but I'm going to read it again. And I now know what to give other Apple fans for gifts.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert Pratte on December 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
Linzmayer's book is an excellent addition to the library of any computer enthusiast and/or historian. This is a well-written, comprehensive work covering a broad range of Apple topics: the development of the Macintosh, the executives, the spin-offs (NeXT and Be), etc.. For a high-level overview of the company to OS X, this is a fine work. One particular feature that I loved was the inclusion of sidebar information, providing background, quotes (many of these are fantastic), and "where are they now" information without distracting the reader.

That said, Linzmayer doesn't sound entirely objective and his likes and dislikes seem rather apparent. That said, if you read this book with a certain political bent (particularly a pro-Jobs one), then you may not like the way certain events are portrayed. A further complaint is the focus on executives without providing enough (in my opinion) about the engineers and thinkers. Personally, I think that more on Woz, Tribble, Tesler, Hertzfeld, etc. would be worth far more than the highs and lows of Sculley's marketing dreams. In this regard, I would say that the best history of Apple, particularly from a technical standpoint is Hertzfeld's Revolution in the Valley.

Bottom line: This is an excellent overview of Apple history. Included among a library of works - I might mention the excellent bibliography included in the book - then Apple Confidential rounds things out wonderfully. A few caveats aside, I recommend reading this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Nadyne Richmond VINE VOICE on March 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
After reading the insufferable iWoz, I wanted a book about the early days of Apple that didn't suck. A friend gave me Apple Confidential 2.0 for my birthday, and it was just what the doctor ordered. It emphatically didn't suck.

This is a well-written account of Apple, from the early pre-Apple blue box days through the book's 2004 publication. Instead of taking a traditional day-by-day walk through the company's history, Linzmayer arranges his chapters by topic. This makes following the individual threads of Apple much easier. Extra quotes and notes are included in the margins, which add colour and depth to the story. Jef Raskin, who unabashedly called himself the father of the Macintosh, said that this book was the most accurate depiction of how the original Mac was created.

Each chapter mostly stands alone. Since each chapter covers only one topic (say, the development of the Newton), some of the chapters in the tumultuous 90s are a bit hard to follow if you're not already aware of certain pieces of Apple history. Many topics are referenced without a word of explanation, just an occasional pointer to the later chapter. The most glaring examples of this are the references to Be, the Star Trek project, and Copland.

The chapter about the Star Trek project is a great example of another problem of the book. It's too early to talk about more recent developments. Star Trek was the project started in 1992 to bring the Mac OS to Intel. According to this book, the project was shelved in 1993. Typing on a MacTel today, it's obvious that the project was resurrected. I know that I'm not alone in wondering how this actually came about.

Even with those complaints, I recommend the book. The early days of Apple are interesting indeed, and understanding them is critical to understanding Apple today.
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