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Revolution in The Valley [Paperback]: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made [Kindle Edition]

Andy Hertzfeld
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

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Book Description

There was a time, not too long ago, when the typewriter and notebook ruled, and the computer as an everyday tool was simply a vision. Revolution in the Valley traces this vision back to its earliest roots: the hallways and backrooms of Apple, where the groundbreaking Macintosh computer was born. The book traces the development of the Macintosh, from its inception as an underground skunkworks project in 1979 to its triumphant introduction in 1984 and beyond.

The stories in Revolution in the Valley come on extremely good authority. That's because author Andy Hertzfeld was a core member of the team that built the Macintosh system software, and a key creator of the Mac's radically new user interface software. One of the chosen few who worked with the mercurial Steve Jobs, you might call him the ultimate insider.

When Revolution in the Valley begins, Hertzfeld is working on Apple's first attempt at a low-cost, consumer-oriented computer: the Apple II. He sees that Steve Jobs is luring some of the company's most brilliant innovators to work on a tiny research effort the Macintosh. Hertzfeld manages to make his way onto the Macintosh research team, and the rest is history.

Through lavish illustrations, period photos, and Hertzfeld's vivid first-hand accounts, Revolution in the Valley reveals what it was like to be there at the birth of the personal computer revolution. The story comes to life through the book's portrait of the talented and often eccentric characters who made up the Macintosh team. Now, over 20 years later, millions of people are benefiting from the technical achievements of this determined and brilliant group of people.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Another blog-turned-book (see Hertzfeld's, 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+.

Product Details

  • File Size: 6254 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (November 19, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006BAW3N0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,336 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, fun and inspirational December 15, 2004
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 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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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
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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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Part blog, part diary; completely fascinating December 20, 2004
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A coffee-table book for nerds January 16, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Macintosh computer is the most iconic computer of all time, and probably one of the most significant consumer electronics products ever. The successors of the original Macintosh have remained aspirational products ever since, and Mac fans are oftentimes known for their cult-like admiration for their computers. One name that immediately comes to mind when Mac is mentioned is that of Steve Jobs, Apple cofounder and a mercurial and controversial visionary that has shaped Apple products for the most of company's history. However, Jobs is a strange bird - a head of a technology company without any concrete technological skills. The bulk of the work on the original Apple computer was done by the other company cofounder (Steve Wozniak) and the team that actually built Mac was composed of largely unknown engineers and technicians who worked on the computer over many years with the utmost passion and dedication. This book is a tribute to that creative and dedicated team. It is written in a form of many anecdotes of crucial events and developments in the process of creating the first Mac. Most of the stories are told from the point of view of Andy Hertzfeld, but there are numerous contributions by other team members as well. The book is filled with images of old hand-written designing notes, pictures of the team members, various Polaroid screen-shots of the development of Mac's GUI, and many, many more moments that elicit a form of nostalgia for those early days of the computer industry. The whole book is in fact a tribute to those more innocent days when idealism was a much more potent motivator than money and stock options. It also paints a picture of Silicon Valley when it was possible for young fresh-out-of-college engineers to find meaningful work and live in places like Palo Alto. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read
This book was just such an awesome read. After iWoz and Steve Jobs biography, this gave a more down to earth view on the whole thing where the apparently right people were given... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Geir Eivind Mork
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book about Apple and the Mac
This is the best book about the history of Apple and the Mac. It's a deep dive inside the events of the computers revolution and culture it created. Read more
Published 4 months ago by jbittencourt
4.0 out of 5 stars It's pretty great indeed
I had an Apple IIC as a kid. It was one of my most fascinating items. I have seen pirates of silicon valley, read iWoz and the steve jobs biography ... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Vivace
5.0 out of 5 stars What happens when playfulness meets seriousness
Hertzfeld does a good job of stressing the almost-religious zealously that created the Macintosh while at the same time highlighting the ever-present sense of humor that surrounded... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Trav
4.0 out of 5 stars A collection of interesting stories
This book is actually compiled from many stories contributed by Andy Hertzfeld, as well as others. It is available online at Andy's website. Read more
Published 8 months ago by David M. Howard
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite Apple books!
This is one of the absolute best reads about the early days of Apple and the development of the Mac written, and it's written by a guy who was right in the thick of things. Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. King
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insights to life in a world changing start-up
Great insights to life in a world changing start-up, told in stories through the lens of many key figures. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Julie Abraham
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Historic Perspective
An excellent historic perspective of the development of the Mac. Insightful discussions of the social and technical aspects that went into creating the first Macintosh computer and... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Roy Wagner
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read after Isaacson's Steve Jobs, but not on a Kindle PW
Great Book. Fast and fun read. Now I know why my 128K Mac that I purchased in 1984 sometimes behaved as it did (sometimes asking for +/- 20 disk swaps). Read more
Published 16 months ago by Kenneth Cosi
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read !
Amazing story about the creation of the first Mac and the people on the team.

A must read for all nerds
Published 16 months ago by Jorleif Joensen
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