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From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: A History of the Software Industry (History of Computing) Paperback – February 27, 2004
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This book presents an exceptionally clearheaded overview of one of the most important industries of the twentieth century. No other work covers the business dimensions of the software industry so comprehensively or so clearly. It should be the starting point for anyone interested in the history of the software business.(Steven Usselman, School of History Technology and Society, Georgia Institute of Technology)
"...a crucial document for anyone interested in understanding the history of software from a business perspective." Case firstmonday.org
"A timely reminder of earlier booms and busts..." Barry Fox New Scientist
"A valuable long view of...the high-visibility Silicon Valley stock-market bubble." Steven Poole The Guardian
"A well-rounded look at the software industry from a business perspective. Highly recommended." Colleen Cuddy Library Journal
"Campbell-Kelly is the first historian to give us a comprehensive overview of this hidden industry..." David Siegfried Booklist
"From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog should command a wide audience..." Slashdot.org
"I strongly recommend this book..." Paul Ceruzzi The Times Higher Education Supplement
"In his incisive, panoramic book... Martin Campbell-Kelly delivers all three: context, insight, even occasional humor." Steve Lohr The New York Times
"In his incisive, panoramic book...Martin Campbell-Kelly delivers...context, insight, even occasional humor." Steve Lohr The New York Times
"A timely reminder of earlier booms and busts." Barry Fox New Scientist
"A valuable long view of what is...the high-visibility Silicon Valley stock-market bubble." Steven Poole The Guardian
"I strongly recommend this book..." Paul Ceruzzi Paul Ceruzzi
"In his incisive, panoramic book...Martin Campbell-Kelly delivers all three: context, insight, even occasional humor." Steve Lohr The New York Times
"...Provides a smooth, very readable ride through the growth of one of the last half century's most important industries." Cal Clinchard PC Today
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Because of the scope issues, the book may not satisfy all expectations (which is the reason for 4 stars), but from the opposite point of view, I believe that a better book can hardly be composed in the same conditions. As Mr. Campbell-Kelly pointed out, there are a lot of data about success stories or the firms that managed to live until today, but a lot more data have been lost to history. In this regard, "From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: A History of the Software Industry" is among the most valuable source about the history of software industry. Everybody, who works in software industry should read this book.
A last note: the book really makes to think about history. The interested reader may also read books about meaning of history, like E. Carr's "What is History".
Many of the younger generation don't realize that without computers and software many of the things we take for granted would not exist: credit cards, medical implants, GPS, I-PADS, smart phones, smart appliances, and hundreds more all depend on transistors, integrated circuits, and software.
This is a solid book if a bit dry due to lots of tables and statistics. Even so it brings back memories of living through the early days of software and seeing mainframes gradually morph into desk tops and then into notebooks and finally into tablets all within less than 50 years.
I have only two complaints. He too often says "The story of ... is well documented elsewhere." A brief recap would have helped for those who don't have time to read the other sources.
Second, there is exactly one picture in the book, and while it is great (a stack of 60,000 punch cards for the SAGE system), I wish there would have been a few more, especially of earlier systems.
But overall a fabulous book, very neatly wedged between business history and computer history!