Starred Review. Since much of the research behind the development of the personal computer was conducted in 1960s California, it might seem obvious that the scientists were influenced by the cultural upheavals going on outside the lab. Very few people outside the computing scene, however, have connected the dots before Markoff's lively account. He shows how almost every feature of today's home computers, from the graphical interface to the mouse control, can be traced to two Stanford research facilities that were completely immersed in the counterculture. Crackling profiles of figures like Fred Moore (a pioneering pacifist and antiwar activist who tried to build political bridges through his work in digital connectivity) and Doug Engelbart (a research director who was driven by the drug-fueled vision that digital computers could augment human memory and performance) telescope the era and the ways its earnest idealism fueled a passion for a computing society. The combustive combination of radical politics and technological ambition is laid out so convincingly, in fact, that it's mildly disappointing when, in the closing pages, Markoff attaches momentous significance to a confrontation between the freewheeling Californian computer culture and a young Bill Gates only to bring the story to an abrupt halt. Hopefully, he's already started work on the sequel. Agent, John Brockman.(Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Thanks to the cunning of history and the wondrous strangeness of Northern California, the utopian counterculture, psychedelic drugs, military hardware and antimilitary software were tangled together inextricably in the prehistory of the personal computer. Full of interesting details about weird but not arbitrary connections, John Markoff's book tells one of the oddest--because truest--of California tales and thereby helps illuminate the still unsettled legacy of the Sixties.
--Todd Gitlin, author of Media Unlimited and The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
John Markoff tells the real story of personal computing. The heroes are not your usual suspects like Gates and Jobs, but men behind the scenes like Doug Engelbart, Alan Kay, Larry... Read morePublished 2 months ago by vakibs
This book was a fascinating history of personal computing in America, most specifically in Northern California, most especially in the Stanford region. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Scott C. Holstad
Book did not live up to my expectations
Very Informative but very very very boring.
The author, NYT reporter, started off with a thesis and then collected the evidence to support it instead of sifting the evidence and finding the truth. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mrs. Davis
The writing for this book could've been less wanderish (loses focus at times), else its a good history on the people and technology of the 50s and 60s. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Michael P. Adams
Enjoyed the read as someone who lives in menlo park and has been involved with computers since 1964... A general precision 4000 machine. 4k memory with 32k drum memory ... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Ernest E Chilberg Jr
Good history of how the Pc industry came together. Would have wanted a little more continuity though;sometimes hard to keep track of everyone.Published 12 months ago by steampunk1881
The stories are moderately interesting, but John Markoff isn't the best story teller in this case. Stephen Levy does a much better job covering similar time periods.Published 12 months ago by Nathan West
a very detailed account of the development of the computer industry. unfortunately some of it is more like a dry list of names and anagrams than an interesting story.Published 13 months ago by Manu