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Open: How Compaq Ended IBM's PC Domination and Helped Invent Modern Computing Hardcover – October 15, 2013
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Peter H. Lewis, former Senior Writer and technology columnist for The New York Times
"Compaq's early business decisions changed the course of personal computing. This is a detailed inside look at those high-risk, high-reward calls by the executive who made them and holds important lessons for competitive strategy."
Richard Shaffer, former technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Fortune
"Canion's description of the human side of cobbling together what's needed to create one of these standards is correct -- and a good read, too."
Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel
Yet remarkably, just a decade later, Compaq had successfully toppled IBM as the world's largest PC company. In this fast-paced recounting of how the inconceivable became the actual, Compaq co-founder Rod Canion tells how daunting hurdles were overcome and opportunities seized. Open will take you along on this exhilarating ride through technology, innovation, and unprecedented industrial growth.”
Ben Rosen, former Chairman of Compaq
This book is a must-read for anyone seriously interested in innovation, investment in startups, or the information industry.”
William F. Zachmann, Computer and Communications Industry Analyst and Former V.P. of Market Research at International Data Corp.
About the Author
Since leaving Compaq in 1991, Canion has been involved in a long list of startups and early stage companies as an angel investor, advisor, and director. He helped found the Houston Technology Center in 1999 and the Goose Society of Texas in 2005, two organizations focused on encouraging entrepreneurs and helping early stage companies succeed. He is currently a director of Invesco, Ltd. and ChaCha Search, Inc., and is an advisory director of Encore Health Resources and Dynamics, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
I was one of the original investors in Compaq through Ben Rosen's firm. My first Compaq was the Deskpro 286e and my "Compaq Museum" computer room also holds the Deskpro 66M, Deskpro XL 6200, MiniTower Deskpro 6333 and Deskpro EN 6800, all still running like clockwork and all in like new condition. I have all the original boxes, service manuals, advertising, spare parts galore etc. There was nothing like seeing a Compaq Ad sign back then in the odd and remote of airports like Botswana, Tahiti etc. on my travels. I bailed out of Compaq in early 1997 when I got wind of the DEC acquisition which started their final downfall. Been a Dell boy (Dimension 4600 & 4700, Latitude D610 and XPS 630i's) since then.
It tells the story of Compaq Computer's rocket-ride to the top of the PC industry and it's role in establishing and then maintaining the "industry-standard" (aka IBM-compatibility) as the PC industry grew. IBM (of course) at first established the "standard," then through a series of foolish and greedy attempts to "advance" the standard--meaning they wanted to re-monopolize the entire industry.
I'm not sure whether the industry as a whole wouldn't have thwarted IBM anyway, but Compaq, led my Mr. Canion, were the ones who really contributed to making sure they didn't.
The writing could be a lot better, but the author is a business executive, not a professional storyteller, so I can't fault him too much.
Of course the irony is that these days nearly all these early players, including Compaq, are no longer here.
(Walter Isaacson's new book is being touted as a pretty complete history of the entire computer and PC industry so I'm looking forward to seeing how he fits Compaq and this period of time into his work.)
I recall purchasing only IBM PCs for our company and viewing all clone makers as poor imitations when Compaq emerged as a leading force. Now, seeing things from the non-IBM perspective, it becomes clear the Compaq well deserved its unprecedented success.
A David and Goliath story? Perhaps, but Compaq trounced IBM in its own game and positioned itself as a leader when no one else, including the dozens of IBM-compatible makers, got it. No one but Canion and his colleagues understood the importance of compatibility. Early on, they realized that software sells hardware. And they made sure their products were more compatible with IBM's software than were IBM's computers!
"Open" is a great computer history book as well as an instructive guide on how to make tough business decisions in a competitive market.
If you like computers and business, this book is tailor-made for you. Great read!
One expresses the true enthusiasm and excitement that generated amazing success, totally loyal employees, the dare to take on IBM fearlessly, Consensus management decision making, and the basis for the stunning technology we hold in our hands today, not the future.
One has to wonder where Microsoft/Bill Gates would be without Compaq and the industry standard, likely just another custom software developer.
Rod Canion is the True master of enthusiasm that that today's corporate business lack. A must read for any new business startup.