Summer Reading Suggestions
Tim Oren has a good review of What The Dormouse Said, John Markoff’s new book that I just finished reading myself.
I agree with Tim’s critiques but like Tim, I feel that if you are involved in technology and want to understand how all this stuff happened, its a good read.
But Tim also suggests some additional reading in his post. Some really good stuff here, much of which I have already read, but I think its a good list and I’ll re-blog it here.
In spite of these caveats, I recommend this book, particularly if read alongside two earlier works cited by Markoff: Steven Levy’s ‘Hackers’ and Freiberger and Swaine’s ‘Fire in the Valley’,
alternate narratives of overlapping events. These are most often
mentioned by those who lived the stories. The 1988 collection A History of Personal Workstations,
edited by Adele Goldberg, pulls together some of the academic output of
the times of ‘Dormouse’, for those inclined to dig into primary sources.
For the later Valley and personal computing history, you’ll have to search the used book sources for Frank Rose’s ‘West of Eden’ and Paul Carroll’s ‘Big Blues’,
respectively treatments of Apple and IBM during the 1980s, and both
reasonably accurate from my first or second-hand knowledge. The
definitive history of Microsoft during this period is still to be
For the engineering and entrepreneurial cultures that became dominant, no one has ever done it better than Tracy Kidder with The Soul of a New Machine. Nominally fiction, Doug Coupland’s ‘Microserfs’ is a humane treatment of the less machismo culture of the early 90s. The voice of the engineer who has to make a product out of a vision is still best expressed in Florman’s classic ‘Existential Pleasures of Engineering’.