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Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers Hardcover – May 10, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; First Edition edition (May 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811854426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811854429
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 11.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mark Richards's work has been featured in numerous publications. He lives in Mill Valley, California.

John Alderman, author of Sonic Boom, lives in San Francisco.

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Customer Reviews

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Every computer geek should have a copy of this on their coffee table.
Wyzard
This book is going right to my office Monday morning where it will sit on my meeting table for everyone to admire.
Joe Wikert
The book is a great collection of photographs and detailed descriptions of the same.
rpv

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Craig Stalwart on November 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is very pretty, and has some *outstanding* photographs of classic machines. If only the selection of machines and printing (at least on my copy) matched the quality of the photos, this would be on my "must by" list.

Newer photo-books like this rely on some special printing techniques to make their images stand out, such as printing a glossy image, with the non-printed portion paper treated to make it flat and bright white. It makes for a stunning presentation when it is done properly.

My book has several pages where the glossy images are scratched, and others where the pages are covered with scratches and dirt. I don't know if my pages sat on the top of a pallet or the presses were just dirty, but it clearly happened before binding, as in some cases, page 64 on the left hand side is very dirty, page 65 on the right is totally clean. The beautiful dust jacket is also badly scuffed up--a book like this should have been shrink wrapped--and the cover dinged. This Chinese-printed book would have been considered a "hurt" at my local press.

On this sort of book, that totally shatters the beauty of it all, and I think I will end up returning it. I considered asking for a replacement, but I am further disappointed by the selection of machines.

There are major companies of the era not even represented here. Not a single Data General machine...I would have expected the "70's photogenic" Nova, or a later machine like a S/150. No Burroughs, no DEC-20...the entire history of DEC reduced to two photos and one closeup of a pdp8 and a glimpse of the boot console panel from a DEC-10.

VAX? What's a VAX? No mention of a VAX here, but the TRS-80 I and 100 get four pages. I *loved* my Model 100, but this is not the place for it.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Joe Wikert on June 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A coffee table book about technology? Are you kidding me? What an unusual idea...but what an awesome book! My copy arrived on my doorstep yesterday and I couldn't resist flipping through it right away...then I couldn't put it down for another hour.

If you're in any way interested in technology in general and computers in particular you need to check out this book. The photos are gorgeous. I know it sounds funny saying that pictures of computers could be gorgeous, but they really are!

You'll find entries for all the classic systems, from the ENIAC to Google's first production server, and all points in between. The close-up shots of some of the vacuum tube-based systems are truly fascinating, but it was just plain fun to once again see a device you probably haven't set your eyes on for 20 years. A good example is the Commodore 64 and the original Macintosh. The early "portables" are a hoot to see again too, especially the Osborne 1, with a screen so small it looks like a large digital watch display!

This book is going right to my office Monday morning where it will sit on my meeting table for everyone to admire. Chronicle, thanks for this wonderful trip down memory lane!

P.S. -- This one's not just for the "over 40 crowd" like me: My 18 year-old son spent the last 30 minutes looking through it and loved it as well. That said, Father's Day is just around the corner, so think about this one if your dad is into technology...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Archibald on May 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Core Memory" was a happy surprise to come across, and a total home run when shared with my family and friends. I feared the book would be a dry catalogue that spoke only to the geek-iest of computer fans. What I found was a book that spoke to everyone: photographer Mark Richards studies these machines with a cold detachment yet still seems to somehow remind us that it is human beings that created these things: anthropomorphic machines, wires that looks like human circulatory systems, computers that look like oddly like faces, sometimes just a dada-ist collection of wires and knobs that don't look functional at all. The text by Alderman grounds everything and makes it accessible to the masses. This book will tie you up for hours, and you'll never look at your laptop the same again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brian Smith on May 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It doesn't matter if your a PC Guy or a Mac Guy or a total Luddite, you've got to buy this book. Mark Richards photographs are archaeological gems of the most important technological creation of the last fifty years. Richards exposes the guts of the machine in a way few have ever seen and fewer still could imagine would be so beautiful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W Boudville HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Alderman provides a useful service to those of us who use computers for a livelihood. (And isn't that many these days?) He reminds us of the still-recent heritage. Computer improvements have occurred at a rate unprecedented in technological history. The photos and descriptions from the computer museum show such dinosaurs! Yet still well within living memory.

A prosaic image of a punched card will take some readers back to their first programs. In Fortran or Cobol. Hacked out on a stack of those cards. While the photos of the mainframes and minicomputers might have been of types you ran those cards on. Sobering to realise that other readers weren't even born when all this happened.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Computers have settled into a fairly standard design, with the basics being monitor, keyboard, and mouse. They were not always so simple, and they were certainly not so powerful as the laptop on which I am typing this review. It is good to remember that a computer used to be a roomful of tubes that could barely multiply a couple of big numbers, and that no one really could predict the ways that computers would become smaller, more useful, more powerful, and more ubiquitous. So while my laptop might trace its descent from the Universal Automatic Computer, or UNIVAC, of 1951, there were plenty of steps along the way, as well as branches that proved to be dead ends. Many branches of the computer's genealogical tree are illustrated in _Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers_ (Chronicle Books), with photographs by Mark Richards and text by John Alderman. Computers are barely fifty years old, and many of the artistic and handsome photos here look like ancient jumbles of vacuum tubes or transistors and capacitors, while others look like gadgets the Jetsons would be glad to own. While the vibrant pictures are the show in this large-format book, the short text that accompanies each of the thirty-two computers shown here puts them in a historical and technological context.

The computer that starts the pictures, the Z3 Adder, no longer exists, and pictures here are only of a reconstruction; it was a German model bombed out of existence in Berlin in 1944. America didn't enter the computer race until after the war, although ENIAC, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, was part of the war's technological drive. ENIAC cost about a half million dollars, and had a memory that could process twenty ten-digit numbers.
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