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What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Hardcover – April 25, 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
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From the Inside Flap

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (April 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670033820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670033829
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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on April 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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on August 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
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