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From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: A History of the Software Industry (History of Computing) Hardcover – January 27, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: History of Computing
  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 3rd prt. edition (January 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262033038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262033039
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,585,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When writers look at the birth of the computer age, they generally focus on the tangible hardware achievements of the likes of IBM and Intel and almost solely on Microsoft when it comes to software. Campbell-Kelly tells us that in the larger perspective, Microsoft is not the center of the software universe and indeed today makes up only about 10 percent of that industry. Mass-market "shrink-wrap" software is the retail version of a much larger sector that contributes to our lives constantly, running everything from airline reservations to bank transfers, credit-card transactions, and most corporate and government functions, including the space program. This is an area that is often ignored because software is hard to define; it is the nearest product we have that is virtually pure thought. Campbell-Kelly is the first historian to give us a comprehensive overview of this hidden industry, which spawned the first user groups when companies had to write their own programs for early IBM mainframes. He includes everything from the information infrastructure of IBM's CICS and SAP's R/3 to the ever-popular gaming software. David Siegfried
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Review

"...a crucial document for anyone interested in understanding the history of software from a business perspective." Case firstmonday.org



"A timely reminder of earlier booms and busts..." Barry Fox New Scientist



"A valuable long view of...the high-visibility Silicon Valley stock-market bubble." Steven Poole The Guardian



"A well-rounded look at the software industry from a business perspective. Highly recommended." Colleen Cuddy Library Journal



"Campbell-Kelly is the first historian to give us a comprehensive overview of this hidden industry..." David Siegfried Booklist



"From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog should command a wide audience..." Slashdot.org



"I strongly recommend this book..." Paul Ceruzzi The Times Higher Education Supplement



"In his incisive, panoramic book... Martin Campbell-Kelly delivers all three: context, insight, even occasional humor." Steve Lohr The New York Times



"In his incisive, panoramic book...Martin Campbell-Kelly delivers...context, insight, even occasional humor." Steve Lohr The New York Times



"A timely reminder of earlier booms and busts." Barry Fox New Scientist



"A valuable long view of what is...the high-visibility Silicon Valley stock-market bubble." Steven Poole The Guardian



"I strongly recommend this book..." Paul Ceruzzi Paul Ceruzzi



"In his incisive, panoramic book...Martin Campbell-Kelly delivers all three: context, insight, even occasional humor." Steve Lohr The New York Times



"...Provides a smooth, very readable ride through the growth of one of the last half century's most important industries." Cal Clinchard PC Today


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brian Turchin on June 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I wasn�t sure how I would like Martin Campbell-Kelly�s new book since I have grown up with the software industry--I started as a programmer in 1973�and thought I had a pretty good understanding of it. But on the contrary I found his book fascinating. Over all I thought Campbell-Kelly weaved together many hard-to-find facts and statistics into a comprehensive, well-researched, and well-written story of how the software industry evolved
Basically, it reviews the development of the various software industry segments; what we now refer to as professional services companies, enterprise product software companies, personal computer software companies and game companies. For each, it describes the major events that created these industry segments�e.g. in 1970 IBM unbundled its software pricing from its hardware pricing ushering in age of product software companies; the major companies who dominated these segments; and the business models.
A few things that were of particular interest to me.
When I grew up in the software business, we used lines of code as a way to estimate the work it would take to create an application. I have overseen the development of systems with millions of lines of code. So I was surprised to learn how few lines of code were in DOS 2.0, just 20,000+, and even more surprised to learn that the venerable early business language Fortran, in its first incarnation, was only 18,000 lines of code.
And it helped put into context what I have lived through. For example, in 1973, straight out of C.C.N.Y., I first entered the job market as young Cobol programmer trainee at Royal-Insurance Company in New York. As a youngster I had no awareness that Thomas Watson Jr. bet his business on the IBM360, or that it was the reason for IBM�s unprecedented industry dominance.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Acute Observer on September 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a history of the Software Industry. "Software" was coined to distinguish it from hardware; it describes the spirit that activates electronic machines. There are three sectors: software contracting, corporate software products, and mass-market software products (pp.3-8). The book covers events from around 1950 to 1995 in the USA. Chapter 1 gives an overview of the sources available. Chapter 2 tells of the origins of software writing, and its need for high-maintenance. Could errors arise from "one minor change"? Early users cooperated in sharing software. FORTRAN and COBOL became the first standard programming languages. But high costs and slipped schedules became typical. Government support for SAGE helped establish US dominance of the computer industry (p.48). The "Great Society" led to investments in non-defense projects.
Chapter 3 discusses "Programming Services". The established techniques of engineering management filtered into programming projects. Program flowcharts became institutionalized, then flushed away by the "fad for 'structured programming'" (p.69). The boom for software companies in the late 1960s reminds me of the dot-com fever in the late 1990s. All fueled from government spending (p.75, P.80). The arrival of minicomputers around 1970 allowed middling companies to own a computer. Chapter 4 tells about the change to "Software Products". Computers were more plentiful and more powerful (pp.90-91), programmers didn't keep up. Lines of code used increased 1000% every 5 years, the cost of developing quadrupled by 1965. Page 100 discusses flowcharting, whose purpose was to graphically represent a program's operations. Sort of like a condensed slide presentation of a topic.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on June 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog may sound like a mystifying title, but this book provides a reasonable overview of the history of the software industry. At times, given the ups and downs in the industry, it can't avoid sounding like a catalog of defunct firms and obsolete software. However, this chronology is quite useful for anyone who wants to come up to speed very quickly and very generally on the main trends in the industry. Author Martin Campbell-Kelly covers some of the industry's seminal events and the main categories of software. Vexingly or refreshingly, he takes pains to say as little about Microsoft as possible, making it clear that others have written enough on that subject. So, with that absence duly noted, we recommend this book to those who want an inside history of the software industry, from massive mainframes to little blue cartoon porcupines.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The emphasis of the book is on the economic history of the software industry. There is a very small number of references to the technological developments that enabled the progress that the author outlines. Among others, he leaves out the one significant event that explain, for example, the mushrooming of Microsoft. The author glosses over the importance of the scientific and technological aspects of software development and their influence on the history of software. Also, in the exposition of his methodology (he is a "certified" historian) he says that most of the software history writings are anecdotal -- but that his isn't. Then throughout the book we find lots of quotes of peoples opinions; of tables published in magazines whose origins are not questioned or cross-validated. This does not ring of rigorous historical research and the double and triple typical crosschecks. In a nutshell, if what one is looking for financial "facts" regarding the software industry history -- which company was the first, second, etc., money wise, during a given decade, then you will enjoy the book. For me, it wasn't what I expected.
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