Top positive review
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History and clarity, not hype
on February 27, 2003
You can see why the author was able to solve so many of the earliest computing problems: he can distill huge amounts of mind-numbing technical detail into a crisp, memorable point. Sure, he has the right credentials to write this professional autobiography: he helped build and design the first "personal" computer (in the early sixties!), the first ARPANET nodes, the first true multiprocessor, worked at Xerox PARC, and so on. And he covers history, technology, and personalities with a clear, self-effacing style.
But what will stick with me longest are his explanations of issues I had thought I understood: why "time-sharing" is dead and personal computers are alive, why synchronization and "real-time" computing are so hard, why programs are (still) so buggy. His explanations, forged from decades of deep and considered thought while creating those famous room-sized computers, manage to isolate and address the most important "why" questions without getting mired in the technical "what"... this is really a great way to know about how computers work and how they got to be the way they are.
I've been messing with computers for over thirty years, and I've never read anything better.