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The Silicon Wizards [Kindle Edition]

Robert L Skidmore
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

Print List Price: $24.95
Kindle Price: $5.00
You Save: $19.95 (80%)

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Book Description

This is the story of a revolutionary device that changed the world. We follow its development along three lines:

A young Harvard sophomore, Charles Swift, and his high school mate, James Clapper, learn that a small company in New Mexico has built a desktop computer, the Taurus. Bored with Harvard and fearing that the Taurus might start a technological revolution without him, Charles phones the Taurus’s inventor and offers to provide software for the new machine. After a successful demonstration, Charles and Clapper form their own company, Digital Software. Clapper moves to Albuquerque, but Charles’ parents insist that he remain at Harvard. After a year, Charles abandons Harvard and devotes himself to Digital Software which he eventually moves to Seattle. Digital Software shares in the explosive growth of the new industry. Charles successfully navigates a turning point when he licenses an operating system to IBM. Eventually, Digital Software makes Charles the richest man in the world. This in turn attracts the attention of the antitrust busters of the Department of Justice.

Two California college dropouts, Stanley Pitts and Harold Dumbroski, start a business in the Pitts family garage. Stanley, an arrogant aesthete, decides to market Harold’s inventions. Harold, a self-educated engineering genius, designs his own computers. They name their company Astron and their computers Astron 1 and Astron 2. Stanley sells Astron 1 to a local computer chain. After considerable difficulty, Stanley and Harold meet a venture capitalist named Stuart Miller who joins with the two young men to form a corporation, Astron Computers. They move to a new building, hire employees, acquire advertising support and market Harold’s Astron 2. Miller insists that they hire a professional manager, Willard Temple. Stanley and Temple clash as Stanley interferes in Astron’s internal operations. Despite the disharmony, Astron undergoes phenomenal growth reaching the Five Hundred Company List in three short years. When Astron goes public, Stanley and Harold each become millionaires 250 times over. The charismatic Stanley becomes Astron’s symbolic leader. Harold, interested in only engineering, drops to the wayside, but Stanley spearheads the development of a new computer, the Asteroid. The Board fires Temple and hires Lawrence Starkey. Internal problems fomented by Stanley plague the company. IBM’s Personal Computer diminishes their market share, and the Astron Board in desperation bars Stanley from the premises. Stanley starts Again Corporation and builds Starlight. Astron hires then fires a company saver and invites Stanley back.

David Howard, an ex Cornell running back, joins IBM. Ernie Hendricks, the Chief of the General Products Division, takes David on as his protege. David, an IBM lone duck, IBM slang for a duck who refuses to fly in formation, fails to adapt to adapt to the regimented IBM culture. Ernie sends David to the IBM Research facility in Boca Raton to research a proposal for assembling a microcomputer using components

Product Details

  • File Size: 883 KB
  • Print Length: 528 pages
  • Publisher: 1st Books; 1 edition (December 13, 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003AQBBXQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,916,981 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story, but errors are distracting January 27, 2007
Format:Paperback
This book is a semi-fictionalized retelling of the development of the microcomputer and the related software industry. Characters and companies are given false names, but are clearly stand-ins Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and other industry luminaries. The book is a fairly interesting retelling of the evolution of the microcomputer from its origins in the mid 1970s.

The main problem I have with the book are the numerous errors - factual errors and spelling problems. For example, there are factual problems. One of the major characters is supposed to have attended Cornell on an athletic scholarship, which is a signficant factor in his life. Only problem - Cornell and other Ivy League schools don't offer athletic scholarships. Such gaffes make me wonder about the credibility of the rest of the story. Also Boca Raton was often, but not consistently, referred to as Boca Rotan. These type of issues are a major distraction from the story. Perhaps the author (and the editor) should also consider investing in a word processor that offers a spell check feature.
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