Fire in the Valley: The Birth and Death of the Personal Computer

Fire in the Valley: The Birth and Death of the Personal Computer

Michael Swaine, Paul Freiberger

Language: English

Pages: 424

ISBN: 1937785769

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In the 1970s, while their contemporaries were protesting the computer as a tool of dehumanization and oppression, a motley collection of college dropouts, hippies, and electronics fanatics were engaged in something much more subversive. Obsessed with the idea of getting computer power into their own hands, they launched from their garages a hobbyist movement that grew into an industry, and ultimately a social and technological revolution. What they did was invent the personal computer: not just a new device, but a watershed in the relationship between man and machine. This is their story.

Fire in the Valley is the definitive history of the personal computer, drawn from interviews with the people who made it happen, written by two veteran computer writers who were there from the start. Working at InfoWorld in the early 1980s, Swaine and Freiberger daily rubbed elbows with people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates when they were creating the personal computer revolution.

A rich story of colorful individuals, Fire in the Valley profiles these unlikely revolutionaries and entrepreneurs, such as Ed Roberts of MITS, Lee Felsenstein at Processor Technology, and Jack Tramiel of Commodore, as well as Jobs and Gates in all the innocence of their formative years.

This completely revised and expanded third edition brings the story to its completion, chronicling the end of the personal computer revolution and the beginning of the post-PC era. It covers the departure from the stage of major players with the deaths of Steve Jobs and Douglas Engelbart and the retirements of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer; the shift away from the PC to the cloud and portable devices; and what the end of the PC era means for issues such as personal freedom and power, and open source vs. proprietary software.

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Would knock off some programs on the spot to demonstrate the machine to club members. Woz had built a working prototype of the Apple II by August of 1976, and loaned one to Espinosa, who began developing games and demonstration software for the computer. By actually using the new computer, the self-confident teenager was able to suggest ways to better its design. Before he went to work for Apple, Espinosa spent a lot of time at Paul Terrell’s Byte Shop. He recalled that a “tall, scraggly.

And motivating the engineering troops. Gassée, who had made Apple France the company’s most successful subsidiary, quickly became the second most visible executive in one of the world’s great corporate fishbowls. He had a penchant for metaphor and bold pronouncements; he once gave a speech called “How We Can Prevent the Japanese from Eating Our Sushi.” Unlike Sculley, he was technical, and he won the respect and affection of Apple’s engineers. When alumni of Xerox PARC came up with a language.

Later, after he found out the company name was also available, Fischer bought that, too. He and Nancy Freitas, now husband and wife, brought in an old music-industry buddy of Fischer’s and incorporated as IMSAI Manufacturing. Operating out of a few hundred square feet in the warehouse district of Oakland, California, they began to build IMSAI computers once more. The IMSAI that Fischer and Freitas founded was a small company with little resemblance to the frenetic original. The new IMSAI.

By mail and did business with developers on a handshake basis. (Courtesy of Bill Godbout) Godbout was at the time selling chips and minicomputer memory boards by mail. Morrow asked him if he intended to sell Altair memory boards. Godbout scoffed. He wouldn’t so dignify the product, he said. Morrow wondered if Godbout might be interested in distributing a good computer, one that was the creation of a top-notch design team. “With you guys?” Godbout sniffed. He gave Morrow the once-over. Godbout.

“no matter how miserable I have to be.” He described his partners as “nostalgic for the future,” like many computer hobbyists of the day, and their discussions were frequently those of visionaries. But the mundane, day-to-day decisions also had to be made. Marsh’s friend still had all that cheap walnut originally slated for the digital-clock business, and it seemed a shame to let it go to waste, so Marsh incorporated walnut side panels into the Sol’s design, giving it the appearance of a 1950s.

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