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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this to understand programmers, March 30, 2006
By 
Peter Norvig (Palo Alto, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Programmers at Work: Interviews With 19 Programmers Who Shaped the Computer Industry (Tempus) (Paperback)
I have to say, this is a great book, almost unique in its scope; I wish there were more books like this. There are many collections of short biographies of mathematicians, and a few of computer scientists, but that's not quite the same as programmers. If you want to know what programmers do, the best thing is to read their code, but failing that (or in addition to that) you need to read interviews like this. I wish someone would do another book like this covering programmers of the last 15 years, but this one has a very good selection of programmers from the early PC era, and the interviews are very well-done: they let the programmer speak, yet the interviewer keeps them on track.

I'm sure some people will object: "How can this be a great book; it's from Microsoft Press! It features Bill Gates on the cover! Four times larger than anyone else!" Perhaps it would be better if Gates' picture were smaller, but admit it -- how many of the other faces do you recognize? And the fact is, billg was an extremely influential programmer, and the interview with him is a good one. I liked it so much I was inspired to write a short fiction piece on the subject (search for "Y2K Saga").

But don't just take my word on this book: trust the "customers who bought this"; they're also buying heroes of the open source movement like Joel and ESR, as well as (to my mind) the two best author/consultants in the business, Demarco and Weinberg.

It may still take you ten years to become an expert programmer, but carefully reading this book should speed up your quest, or at least let you understand better the programmers around you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Peek Into the Mind of Greatness, October 28, 2009
This review is from: Programmers at Work: Interviews With 19 Programmers Who Shaped the Computer Industry (Tempus) (Paperback)
I bought this book so many years ago now I can't begin to remember, probably right after I graduated high school and realized that I couldn't even begin to imagine making a living doing anything but working with computers.

Don't let the front cover or the publisher fool you, the interviews in here run the gamut and every one represents a seminal pioneer in our industry.

These aren't just people who write code and sell products, these were the folks who *invented* some of the ideas that make up the foundation of our field.

I re-read them every few years and am amazed at how much this book still has to teach me more than a decade after buying it.

One of the other really neat things about this book is the way the personality of the people being interviewed shines through - you really get a feel for their style, sense of humor, and the way they think.

I wish this book were still in print, I'd recommend it to all the young whipper snapperes out there who never had to load a BASIC program off a cassette or think in terms of using registers and memory addresses to get the job done.

My dog eared copy will always occupy a hallowed place on my shelf.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A quick easy read, even for junior high school level kids, September 30, 2014
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This review is from: Programmers at Work: Interviews With 19 Programmers Who Shaped the Computer Industry (Tempus) (Paperback)
This book inspired me to start my own software company. A quick easy read, even for junior high school level kids, that sheds a simple different light on these people who loved to write code and helped changed the world.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unfound but essential., July 16, 2009
By 
Carlos Urtasun Estanga (Pamplona, Navarra Spain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Programmers at Work: Interviews With 19 Programmers Who Shaped the Computer Industry (Tempus) (Paperback)
Although this book is for the 80's, the interviews are very interesting.

And these guys are now the bosses of software business.
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