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Revolution in The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made Hardcover – December 16, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Another blog-turned-book (see Hertzfeld's www.folklore.org), this set of remembrances chronicles the birth of the Macintosh from inside the lab. In 1978, Hertzfeld's world was rocked by his purchase of an Apple II; by the next year, he was working for the fledgling company on the nascent Mac as a software engineer, co-writing the Mac's operating system. Strictly for Silicon Valley-folk and Apple obsessives, Hertzfeld's short entries dwell on everything from mouse-scaling parameters to the eating habits of hardware engineer Burrell Smith. A plethora of color photos feature early screen shots and sedentary-looking Mac team members in tight t-shirts ("User Friendly!") and large glasses. Even aficionados may find their attention wandering at sentences like, "The most controversial part of the Control Panel was the desktop pattern editor, which I had rescued from its earlier standalone incarnation." But among the 90 entries, highlights include awkward-looking early demos of the Mac's operating system; competition and idea-swapping with Microsoft, Osborne and Xerox; and inside glimpses of Apple's unique, before-the-boom culture. Hertzfeld's earnest enthusiasm for the work that he and the team began 25-plus years ago is infectious enough to carry one through the rest.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Andy Hertzfeld was a graduate student in computer science at UC Berkeley in January 1978 when he purchased one of the first Apple IIs.He quickly lost interest in grad school as he began writing programs for his Apple II, eventually leading him to join Apple Computer as a systems programmer in August 1979. He joined the Macintosh team in February 1981, and became one of the main authors of the Macintosh system software, including the User Interface Toolbox and many of the original desk accessories. He left Apple in March 1984, and went on to co-found three companies: Radius (1986), General Magic (1990) and Eazel (1999). In 2003, he developed web-based software for collective storytelling that he used to write the stories in this book. In 2005, he joined Google, and was one of the main creators of Google+.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (December 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596007191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596007195
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #942,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It's easy to get discouraged as a developer. Time, features, quality, these all turn the thrill of inspiration into the cool slog of a job. But sometimes the fire gets through. That's what happened at Apple with the birth of the Macintosh. And that's what Andy Hertzfeld, one of the primary team members on the first Macintosh, chronicles in this book.

The summation of the folklore.org site, this book is a set of about 100 stories. Each running about 3-4 pages on average. Starting with Andy's first day at Apple and ending around the time when Jobs' was ousted in a palace coup. The stories run the gamut from the deep technical to the interpersonal. They are well written and engaging.

A must read for those inspired by the original Apple Mac engineers.
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Format: Hardcover
How wonderful is this book? That will depend on several factors. I've read a lot of books that claim to dish out the real dirt about Apple, and this book impressed me because Andy Hertzfeld didn't write all the anecdotes himself. Instead, he created a web site at [...] and encouraged any and all persons involved with the creation of the Macintosh to document their own recollections of how it all went down. Those essays, along with dozens written by Hertzfeld himself, are now the basis of this new book, mixed in with pencil sketches, historcal photos, and old ads. This book is not about grinding axes or settling grudges. It merely documents in an objective fashion how the whole team came together, and the many many ups and downs encountered in bringing this wonderful computer to life.

What I like about this book can be summed up in two phrases. First, none of the essays exceeds five pages (roughly the length of my attention span), so I easily breezed through ninety pages of historical material without losing interest. I found myself laughing outloud at times. Second, because of the way Hertzfeld collected these stories, I truly believe that this book is not an attempt to re-write history so as to exalt himself as the God of Macintosh. While I have seen reviews of this book describe it as a coffee table book, I don't view it as a coffee table book. The essays cover technical details about how the Macintosh was prototyped and debugged, and these technical details will be above 95 percent of the people who pick up this book. Not to mention there is a lot of text.

The anecdotes in this book read quite true to me. We follow Hertzfeld from his initial hire at Apple through to his maneuvers to get himself onto the Macintosh development team.
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Format: Hardcover
Written as a series of short blog-like entries, this book takes you on a unique behind-the-scenes look at what it was like building the original Mac. I found it a genuine and fascinating peek into both the "birth of the Mac" and the emerging personal computer industry as a whole. It's tough to fathom what it must have been like to write an entire operating system and applications with only 128K to work with.

Being in the software industry myself, I could identify with a lot of the programming situations and unique characters that end up in software development. It was oddly comforting to find that certain things haven't really changed that much. My favorite in this regard was a short entry about a management decision to "track progress" by entering the number of lines coded that week. One guy put down "-2000", as he had done some optimizing and was able to get rid of a lot of extra source code.

Great nuggets of information about how things came into existence. For instance, the "Command" key icon, the boot beep, and the original font names. A glimpse at what it was like to work for Steve Jobs was also captivating.

All told, a must read.
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Format: Hardcover
The first thing that struck me about this book is that it's effectively written in hypertext - it's a series of vignettes about the development of the Mac from its beginnings as a tiny research project through launch and the eventual combination of the Mac and Lisa development teams. The non-linearity of the narrative can be a little distracting at times, but you get used to it.

Some of the vignettes are fairly technical - they might be more than the lay reader wants to get into, but each story is short (3-5 pages) so a non-technical reader can always skip ahead (or back, or sideways) to a less-technical narrative.

Hertzfeld doesn't gloss over conflict within the Mac team, but he also celebrates the fun times and shows why the Mac development team was a unique and very productive working environment. It's clearly one person's version of the story, but he never claims it's anything else.

All in all, I highly recommend this book for anyone who's interested in the Mac as a computer and Apple as a company.
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Format: Hardcover
Apple is a special company and the Macintosh was a pivotal product that is still at the heart of its success today. Yet if you were to look inside the original Macintosh you would find something even more remarkable than technical innovation and creativity.

Past the intuitive graphical user interface, behind the first 3.5" floppy drive in a personal computer, and over the novel logic board was something that most users never knew was there. Inside the case of every Macintosh was a collection of signatures. Just as an artist would sign a canvas, the team that put together the first "insanely great" computer signed their masterpiece.

The Macintosh was a special product because of the amazing team that took it from conception to retail. Revolution in the Valley is the story of their achievement. It is a sturdy and attractive hardbound book with a modern and approachable layout, relevant illustrations, and highlighted summary quotes from team members and the minds that inspired them. Under the dust cover it is adorned with stills taken from the infamous 1984 commercial announcing the Macintosh.

Though the book touches on parts of the larger Apple story - such as the exile and return of Steve Jobs, the development of the Lisa, and the great initial success of the Apple II - it maintains its focus on the Macintosh throughout. It follows the project from Jeff Raskin's research project, to Steve Jobs' adoption as the future of Apple, and through the first time the world said "'hello' to Macintosh."

Rather than offering a "monolithic narrative," Revolution is presented as a compilation of short stories. Most are the work of Andy Hertzfeld, a key personality in the development of the Macintosh system software, but some are submissions from other team members.
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