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1. iCon Steve Jobs : The Greatest
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2. What the Dormouse Said: How the
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3. Only the Paranoid Survive
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4. The Business of Software : What
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5. Digital Crossroads : American
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6. Direct from Dell: Strategies that
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7. Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?
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8. Secrets of the Game Business (Game
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9. How We Got Here : A Slightly Irreverent
10. Fire in the Valley: The Making
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11. Accidental Empires
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12. Revolution in The Valley (hardcover)
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13. Overdrive: Bill Gates and the
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14. Necessary But Not Sufficient
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15. Hard Drive : Bill Gates and the
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16. Hackers: Heroes of the Computer
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17. Dealers of Lightning: Xerox Parc
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18. High Stakes, No Prisoners : A
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19. Demonstrating to Win
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20. Insanely Great: The Life and Times

1. iCon Steve Jobs : The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business
by Jeffrey S.Young, William L.Simon
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0471720836
Catlog: Book (2005-05-13)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 234
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Lightning never strikes twice, but Steve Jobs has, transforming modern culture first with the Macintosh and more recently with the iPod. He has dazzled and delighted audiences with his Pixar movies. And he has bedeviled, destroyed, and demoralized hundreds of people along the way. Steve Jobs is the most interesting character of the digital age.

What a long, strange journey it has been. With the mainstream success of the iPod, Pixar's string of hits and subsequent divorce from Disney, and Steve's triumphant return to Apple, his story is better than any fiction. Ten years after the leading maverick of the computer age and the king of digital cool, crashed from the height of Apple's meteoric rise, Steve Jobs rose from ashes in a Machiavellian coup that only he could have orchestrated-and has now become more famous than ever.

In this encore to his classic 1987 unauthorized biography of Steve Jobs-a major bestseller- Jeffrey Young examines Jobs' remarkable resurgence, one of the most amazing business comeback stories in recent years. Drawing on a wide range of sources in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, he details how Jobs put Apple back on track, first with the iMac and then with the iPod, and traces Jobs' role in the remarkable rise of the Pixar animation studio, including his rancorous feud with Disney's Michael Eisner.

  • Written with insider scoops and no-holds-barred style
  • Based on hundreds of highly unauthorized interviews with Jobs' nearest and dearest
  • New information on the acrimonious parting between Eisner and Jobs, the personal vendetta behind the return to Apple, and the future of iPod and the music industry
... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars I Have a Very Favorable Opinion of Mr. Jobs Now
After reading this book I have come away with a much more favorable opinion of Steve Jobs.He is the flawed hero type.I found this to be a very enlightening and motivating story.Steve Jobs is the epiteme of the New Age American Dream, a no hoper rising to the top and changing the way everybody sees things.

The truth about the reality distortion field theory is that Jobs doesn't let reality affect him.Rather he is in control of his own reality and he changes it when necessary.It's much easier to change the world when you think it is revolving around you.It's that kind of self-centered focus that many of the world's greatest minds exhibit.Many geniuses are hard to get along with and communicate to, Steve Jobs is no exception.

4-0 out of 5 stars Horrible Book Title
I can't imagine the Apple folks being happy with the title of the book. Is it:

a) iCon -- a symbol or emblem?
b) iCon -- as in "I've conned you into buying a Mac."
c) all of the above.

Somebody's in trouble somewhere...

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent sundeck reading
While completing a website: A friend pass this title along to me. Excellent read. Just five years ago Mac was just another bland corporate player. Since the inclusion of (smooth) well-developed and managed unix, the apple family has finally begun to stir well-deserved praise.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lighten up, Steve.
You would think, with all the fuss Steve Jobs is making about this new release, that it would be the worst hatchet job since "Wired" massacered the late John Bulushi.
In actuality, the approach to the project was even-handed to a fault. William Simon brings his forminable experience with these business giant profiles to the table. His signature combination of terse and flavorful makes for excellent reading.
As the episodes unfold, the Steve Jobs onion is peeled away for the reader to view the admirable along with the not-so-admirable. Great stuff!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
I've long been intrigued by the Steve Jobs story as well as the early days of company-building and conflict between he and Bill Gates. This book is a real page-turner as it explores the connection between the technology, consumer-focused brand building and the psyche of the man behind it all. Jobs is a fascinating character and the author's representation of his story is better than fiction.

Another new book I enjoyed recently which has fun analysis of public figures is "The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book." This one also has a cool online application that lets you test your emotional intelligence and learn about it via clips from movies. Fun stuff. ... Read more

2. What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer
by JohnMarkoff
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0670033820
Catlog: Book (2005-04-21)
Publisher: Viking Adult
Sales Rank: 2471
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

While there have been several histories of the personal computer, well-known technology writerJohn Markoff has created the first ever to spotlight the unique political and cultural forces thatgave rise to this revolutionary technology. Focusing on the period of 1962 through 1975 in theSan Francisco Bay Area, where a heady mix of tech industries, radicalism, and readily availabledrugs flourished, What the Dormouse Said tells the story of the birth of the personalcomputer through the people, politics, and protest that defined its unique era.

Based on interviews with all the major surviving players, Markoff vividly captures the lives andtimes of those who laid the groundwork for the PC revolution, introducing the reader to suchcolorful characters as Fred Moore, a teenage antiwar protester who went on to ignite thecomputer industry, and Cap’n Crunch, who wrote the first word processing software for the IBMPC (EZ Writer) in prison, became a millionaire, and ended up homeless. Both immenselyinformative and entertaining, What the Dormouse Said promises to appeal to all readers oftechnology, especially the bestselling The Soul of a New Machine. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Largely unknown roots of the PC revolution
John Markoff has written a wonderful book about the cultural roots of the personal computing revolution.

I don't agree with everything in the book, but "I was there" for some of the formative period, and I know a lot of the people who show up in the book, and John largely gets it right. Also, I learned more from this book that I didn't know about people that I did know than from any book I can recall.

I definitely agree with John's main thesis, that a revolution is shaped by, and needs to be understood in terms of, the culture(s) in which it is rooted.

First, and I admit that I am biased by my participation, I think John over-rates the influence of the Homebrew Computing Club and the Personal Computer Company relative to Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).Second, I think that the technologies developed at SRI and PARC had a much stronger influence on the PC revolution than psychedelics and other aspects of the counter-culture. Networking was critical to all that followed, as were graphical user interfaces, ubiquity, laser printing, etc.

4-0 out of 5 stars From Cultural Upheaval CameModern PC Technology
As all major movements and innovations seem to come out of periods of cultural upheaval so true is it of the computer revolution that brought about the information age.Here we see that Steve Wozniak's Apple one was just an immediate cause the soon to come home computing explosion.It wasn't until brew-club mate Steve Jobs saw that the market was ripe to start selling computers that the market took off.But underlying this well known story of garage-built computing is a much deeper and much more interesting story of how the field of computer science developed in sequence with the intellectual community and how it wasn't until these fields clashed (or symbiotically nurtured) with 1960's psychedelic counterculture as only California could have produced it that the computer science really took off."What the Dormouse Said" explores how the computer industry needed freedom from the heavy top down institutions of the East Coast and found it in Silicon Valley.

Of course it all started with transistors that TI built into integrated circuits in 1958.This was the essential technology that made the revolution possible and though the IC wasn't perfect it was only a few years before the idea of a home PC was possible.As possible as it was, Digital's CEO Ken Olson said that there was no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.This backward view, like Bill Gates in 1981 when he said there is no reason a PC would require more than 640K of RAM, seems laughable in hindsight yet it was these philosophies, among forward thinking men no less, that probably slowed down the process.It only follows that if these were the innovators closed-mindedness must have been the prevailing stance within the computer science community. Nevertheless progress did happen and thinking that within twenty years of the invention of the transistor solid stat computing was a solid technology it could very well be that these years saw a far greater technological leap than we have seen in the last 20 years.

As always is the case it was midlevel people that truly brought about the computer revolution. These people; the mid-level intelligent doers not the business leaders were able to thrive technically in the environment of the 1960's that questioned everything.This questioning allowed the cutting edge technology industry to break apart from stifling corporate mentalities of the current tech businesses and even universities that were still under the yoke of 19th century corporate mentality to a great extent.It was Stanford University that offered a strange mix of willingness to fund computer research and yet was a hot bead of counterculture. As a university that had a small amount of prestige yet by no means an overwhelmingly stifling atmosphere it was a breeding ground for new ideas.This naturally turned out to be a nurturing atmosphere for technical innovation.

John Markoff, explores this time of innovation that resulted in the fledgling PC industry.The book is less than a narrative and more of a mix of events accounts of people within the industry and researched texts. It is a very fast and interesting read.The connection of drugs and the enhancment consciousness and the idea that computers could augment the human intellect that Doug Englebart apparently had was visionary, though quite possibly accidental. The Drug culture of the 1960's at least opened the door to the idea of a world connected by computers.Reading this book really makes one aware of how visionary and pioneering these young computer scientists really were. I have been a fan of Markoff and his articles for a long time and I see he really put a lot of effort into making this book lucid and vital.This history is very important to us now and it had me call into question weather WWII or the PC revolution was the most important event of the 20th century.The only problem is that the book seems somewhat disjointed and I had trouble following the book at times.Overall I think this book is fascinating and should be required reading for engineering students.I

Ted Murena

5-0 out of 5 stars How LSD and Vietnam Helped Create the PC
Most histories of the personal computer begin with Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Apple in 1976, but while hanging out at SAIL in the mid 1970s, and at the First West Coast Computer Faire in 1977 I heard highly attenuated versions of the folklore that Markoff has only now, after nearly 30 years, run to ground.Conventional histories of the PC make passing reference to the MITS Altair (1974) before going on the talk about the Apple, the IBM PC (1981) and what followed.The more sophisticated would conspiratorially tell the story of how Steve Jobs "stole the idea" for the Macintosh from Xerox's fabled Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) as they were "fumbling the future", and nearly everyone knew that Bill Gates then stole the ideas from Apple.

But the truth of those half-heard folktales from my youth is that nearly every concept in the personal computer predates all of this, in a delightfully picaresque tale that starts in the late 1950s and weaves together computers, LSD, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the Vietnam War and dozens of characters.

John Markoff, veteran technology reporter for the New York Times, is the first to comprehensively tell this story in his new book What The Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry.Markoff, best known for Cyberpunk and Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, explodes the conventional notion that the PC replaced the mini-computer in the same way that the mini-computer replaced the mainframe -- by a sort of evolutionary selection within the computer business, by persistently investigating the roots of the PC its unsung pioneers, its user interface, and the culture of open-source software in the San Francisco drug and anti-war culture of the late 1950s and 1960s.

Markoff has painstakingly researched the men (and a few women) who populated the cutting edge of the computer revolution in 1960s San Francisco, capturing an oral history of the PC never before recorded.Central to "Dormouse" is the story of Doug Engelbart, the "tragic hero" of computing, and the man who invented -- and demonstrated -- virtually every aspect of modern computing as much as a decade before the PC.Engelbart presided over the ground-breaking 1968 demo of his Augment concept, which included multiple overlapping windows, the original mouse, a screen cursor, video conferencing, hyperlinks and cut-and-paste -- virtually every aspect of the modern PC user interface three decades later.Yet the combination of Engelbart's ego and his poor management skills doomed the project, and his best team members leaked over to Xerox PARC, where they worked on the equally doomed "Alto" workstation, source of Steve Job's inspiration.

In parallel to this central story are those of the Stanford AI Lab (SAIL), the Free University, the People's Computer Company, and the Homebrew Computer Club, all located within a few files of the center of the San Francisco peninsula.SAIL, in its first incarnation under John McCarthy and Les Earnest, may have been the first place where computers (or the powerful access to a time-sharing server) really were "personal", and was almost certainly the birthplace of the first true computer game, SpaceWar.It was the locus of naked hot-tub parties, a porn video, and not a little bit of LSD (taken both as serious experimentation and recreationally) that fueled a cast of characters dodging the Vietnam war at Stanford and at the ARPA-funded Stanford Research Institute and creating a counter-culture.Virtually everyone linked to the genesis of the PC spent some time at SAIL, including Alan Kay, who conceived the first notebook computer, who appears first at SAIL before running into Englebart and his enrapturing demo of Augment, leading him to PARC and eventually Apple.

"Dormouse" is peppered with odd juxtapositions and combinations of characters including Fred Moore, the anti-war activist and single father who knit the community together with a pile of special punch cards and a knitting needle and helped create the People's Computer Company and the Homebrew Computer Club.Another, Steve Dompier, was widely accused -- falsely, Markoff convincingly reports -- of being the source for the infamous distribution of Gates' early Altair BASIC.(Was this the eThrough the whole story Stewart Brand -- of Whole Earth Catalog fame -- pops up "Zelig-like" at nearly every turn.The list goes on: Larry Tesler, Ken Kesey, Joan Baez, Ted Nelson, Lee Felsenstein, Bill English, Janis Joplin, and Bill Gates.

If the book has a problem, this is it.Markoff neither presents a first-person oral history nor is he able to tease a single central narrative thread out of this creative soup.He tells several interwoven stories, but there is so large a cast of characters that one must be a dedicated reader (or have a previous knowledge of some of the events described) to keep everything straight.Without a single narrative, the book returns several times to the start of a timeline, retracing it from another perspective, and after a while you feel the need for a map.

Markoff's own "Takedown" shows that with a clear narrative arc he is a wonderful writer, and while the complexity of the tale make keep away casual readers, Markoff does the entire technology industry a great service by capturing these tales while most of the primary sources are still alive.The central story of Doug Engelbart deserves a book of its own -- a better book than the nearly unreadable Bootstrapping by Thierry Bardini -- and one can hope that Markoff revisits the trove of original material he located for this story to write that book.

"Dormouse" is an essential "prequel" to Michael Hiltzik's excellent Dealers of Lightning, the definitive work (so far) on Xerox PARC, and belongs on every bookshelf that includes Katie Hafner's Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet.

For anyone who thinks they know anything, or wants to know anything, about the real roots of the PC revolution and the pioneers who never got famous, this book is required reading. ... Read more

3. Only the Paranoid Survive
list price: $27.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385482582
Catlog: Book (1996-10-02)
Publisher: Currency
Sales Rank: 77765
Average Customer Review: 3.79 out of 5 stars
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Massive change is hitting corporate America at a furious and escalating pace, writes Andrew Grove in Only the Paranoid Survive, and businesses that strive hard to keep abreast of the transition will be the only ones that prevail. And Grove should know. As chief executive of Intel, he wrestled with one of the business world's great challenges in 1994 when a flaw in his company's new cornerstone product -- the Pentium processor -- grew into a front-page controversy that seriously threatened its future. ... Read more

Reviews (33)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Perspective From the Inside
Having personally worked (and plan on working for after I graduate from college) for Intel, Corp. Mr. Grove offers some of the insights to the success of Intel. Strategic Inflection Points (SIP) are applicable in any business, but in a high tech world, SIP's tend to occur more often. Mr. Grove, currently also teaching at Stanford Business School, offers examples of SIP's and how he, and Intel, has dealt with these market changing pressures. In addition, through his book, he also gives insight to the type of company, and corporate culture that is present at Intel, and how only through this type of verticle cooperation can a Santa Clara start-up become the techology giant it is today. I recommend this book to anyone who has ever heard of the name "Intel" and discover what it really means to be "Intel Inside"

4-0 out of 5 stars All Fear the Status Quo
Andy Grove has verbalized the mindset that we must all develop to survive in the 21st Century. While his idea of constantly looking over your shoulder has always been applicable, the speed of the Internet economy requires that we do it much more frequently and penalizes us much more quickly if we do not.

Grove does a great job of showing how one man's crises is another's opporuntity and uses the term strategic inflection points to describe these periods of 10x change.

This book is a good reminder for anyone who thinks that what made them successful to this point is any guarantee that they will be successful in the future.

2-0 out of 5 stars Nothing new here
This is something that any first year business student could have written. It is a fast read but it provides no new insights.

2-0 out of 5 stars Want to be a great manager - Go to West Point
I was very dissapointed by this book as a lesson in management. The lessons learned are basic management and military strategy that every CEO should now. i.e. Basic lessons from the book: include understanding the nature of the battlefield (6 forces that affect business), recognizing change (strategic intelligence), listening to the troops in the field, making sure you're not insulated from the bad news, seperate the noise from real intelligence, have the courage to make changes, issue clear orders, re-evaluate and adjust as conditions change, be prepared to replace the top management (not for incompetence, but to get fresh perspectives (change the old guard and the old ways of doing things), Realize that your company runs on the quality of middle management (i,e NCO and junior officers in the military). Give them clear goals and empower them to act. I have a lot of respect for Andy Grove, and the insights into his business was great, but if you want a good management book, read a military strategy manual. There's nothing new here.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good content...a little hard to read.
This was a good book. A little to technical and difficult to read ... Read more

4. The Business of Software : What Every Manager, Programmer, and Entrepreneur Must Know to Thrive and Survive in Good Times and Bad
by Michael A. Cusumano
list price: $28.00
our price: $18.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 074321580X
Catlog: Book (2004-03-15)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 16628
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The world's leading expert on the global software industry and coauthor of the bestseller Microsoft Secrets reveals the inner workings of software giants like IBM, Microsoft, and Netscape and shows what it takes to create, develop, and manage a successful company -- in good times and bad -- in the most fiercely competitive business in the world.

In the $600 billion software industry it is the business, not the technology, that determines success or failure. This fact -- one that thousands of once glamorous start-ups have unhappily discovered for themselves -- is the well-documented conclusion of this enormously readable and revealing new book by Michael Cusumano, based on nearly twenty years of research and consulting with software producers around the world.

Cusumano builds on dozens of personal experiences and case studies to show how issues of strategy and organization are irrevocably linked with those of managing the technology and demonstrates that a thorough understanding of these issues is vital to success. At the heart of the book Cusumano poses seven questions that underpin a three-pronged management framework. He argues that companies must adopt one of three basic business models: become a products company at one end of the strategic spectrum, a services company at the other end, or a hybrid solutions company in between. The author describes the characteristics of the different models, evaluates their strengths and weaknesses, and shows how each is more or less appropriate for different stages in the evolution of a business as well as in good versus bad economic times. Readers will also find invaluable Cusumano's treatment of software development issues ranging from architecture and teams to project management and testing, as well as two chapters devoted to what it takes to create a successful software start-up. Highlights include eight fundamental guidelines for evaluating potential software winners and Cusumano's probing analysis, based on firsthand knowledge, of ten start-ups that have met with varying degrees of success.

The Business of Software is timely essential reading for managers, programmers, entrepreneurs, and others who follow the global software industry. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars Solid Overview of the Software business
Cusumano presents a solid overview of selected topics relevant to the software business. He focuses on the following topics: strategy for software companies, best practices in software development, and software entrepreneurship. He makes use of case studies and provides insight on the inner workings of Microsoft, IBM, Netscape, Business Objects, and i2. In the chapters discussing strategy, he analyzes product versus service focused organizations. He also discusses market segmentation and whole product solutions as described in Geoffrey Moore's "Crossing the Chasm." With regards to best practices in software development, much of the material is from "Microsoft's Secrets." Cusumano describes the pitfalls of waterfall development and describes the key concepts of Microsoft's synch and stabilize technique. A few pages are devoted to outsourcing and specifically the rise of the Indian software business. I would have expected more analysis on some of the newer agile development methods -- such as XP. Lastly , Cusumano covers software entrepreneurship. He provides an eight point framework to evaluate a software start up. Does it have the following characterisitcs ?
1. Strong management team
2. Compelling new product, service, or hybrid solution.
3. Strong evidence of customer interest
4. An attractive market
5. A plan to overcome the credibility gap.
6. Business model showing early growth and profit potential
7. Flexibility in strategy and product offerings
8. Potential for large payoff to investors.
The text also has a useful appendix with income statement analysis of Business Objects and i2 , and growth comparisons between various organizations. There is nothing in the text I would consider groundbreaking, but it is a solid overview of the software business appropriate for software managers and entrepreneurs.

2-0 out of 5 stars Very good content ... but not printable
I've been reading the digital version of this book. I consider the content good, but the fact of havig to read it on my pc, because isn't printable, is a real Pain.. why not? I bought it anyway !! Think in your foreseas readers for God's sake!!

4-0 out of 5 stars Good info - did this guy have an editor
Lots of great information - presentation is a little rough - this reads like a great 1st or 2nd draft - I still recommend.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good strategy book about software business
This is the best book so far I have read about software business and strategy. The author answers many questions on my mind about the software business strategy and development, for example, the healthy balance of a software company¡¦s revenue between products and services. I also found this book is very practical. Highly recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars An essential contribution by a leading expert
Michael Cusumano's work has always been original and provoking. This new book provides a comprehensive and stimulating vision of the software business. Michael is one of the few persons who has really and personally studied software companies and market dynamics. His contribution is extremely important for software engineers and software managers who want to understand the critical challenges of "doing software".

I plan to adopt it as a textbook for the graduate course on software engineering economics I teach at Politecnico di Milano (Italy). ... Read more

5. Digital Crossroads : American Telecommunications Policy in the Internet Age
by Jonathan E. Nuechterlein, Philip J. Weiser
list price: $40.00
our price: $40.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0262140918
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: The MIT Press
Sales Rank: 142524
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Telecommunications policy profoundly affects the economy and our everyday lives. Yet accounts of important telecommunications issues tend to be either superficial (and inaccurate) or mired in jargon and technical esoterica. In Digital Crossroads, Jonathan Nuechterlein and Philip Weiser offer a clear, balanced, and accessible analysis of competition policy issues in the telecommunications industry. After giving a big picture overview of the field, they present sharply reasoned analyses of the major technological, economic, and legal developments confronting communications policymakers in the twenty-first century.

Since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, when Congress fundamentally reoriented the existing regulatory scheme, no book has cogently explained the intricacies of telecommunications competition policy in the Internet age for general readers, students, and practitioners alike. Digital Crossroads meets this need, focusing on the regulatory dimensions of competition in wireline and wireless telephone service; competition among rival platforms for broadband Internet service and video distribution; and the Internet's transformation of every aspect of the telecommunications industry, particularly through the emergence of "voice over Internet protocol" (VoIP). The authors explain not just the complicated legal issues governing the industry, but also the rapidly changing technological and economic context in which these issues arise. The book includes extensive endnotes and tables that cover relevant court decisions, FCC orders, and academic commentaries; a glossary of acronyms; a statutory addendum containing the most important provisions of federal telecommunications law; and two appendixes with information on more specialized topics. Supplementary materials for students are available at
... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars That rare combination: comprehensive and accessible
Digital Crossroads is that rare combination, a comprehensive and accurate -- but well-written and accessible -- presentation of the state of the technology, economics, and law driving today's complex telecommunications industry.I used it in my Albany Law School seminar on Telecommunications Law for the 21st Century, and students found it highly accessible--especially the technology chapters.The book is a real accomplishment: comprehensive, thoughtful, and forward-looking, without being swept away by the latest gimmick off the shelf.It is also an extremely well written and organized book, clear and authoritative.In addition, for either the practitioner or academic, the inclusion of relevant sections of the 1996 Telecommunications Act adds value and convenience. Making coherent sense of this industry, its history and trajectory, is a daunting challenge and one the authors met, apparently without flinching.

5-0 out of 5 stars Telecom Law for the Layman, Clearly Explained
If you need a current understanding of the law and politics around telecommunications today, this is THE book you need.While long, it is clearly written, concise, lucid, and technically excellent.Even with extensive experience in this domain, I found this book to be the most cogent and readable summary of the issues today, and I learned a lot in the process.

Jonathan Nuechterlein and Philip Weiser are practicing lawyers that have taken the time to learn enough of the engineering and technology of the telecommunications world to be able to explain the intersection of law, politics, and technology to anyone with an interest in the topic.Their goal with this book is to lay a foundation for revisions to US (and global) laws as they apply to voice, data, and video communications distribution networks.While they do not have the answers yet (no one does), they lucidly and often humorously explain why today's laws and regulations are increasingly obsolete.In the process, the authors describe how technology and software are interacting to force the government to abolish the regulatory divisions between the voice and video worlds.

Nuechterlein and Weiser outline a four layer model for communications policies of the future, dividing the domain into 1) the physical infrastructure layer, 2) a logical connectivity layer, 3) an applications layer delivering voice, video, and data services to end users, and 4) a content layer that addresses publicly visible content in any format.They illustrate how this model can be used to devise laws that can effectively achieve the goals of government, and, more importantly, how the model can demonstrate the weaknesses of existing and proposed laws and rules.As they do this, they outline the thinking from the best minds in this domain as to the direction that Congress and the FCC should take in the process of revising our laws on the Internet, traditional voice telephony, VoIP, satellite communications systems, cable TV and the broadcast TV industry.

For this reason and others, I highly recommend this to anyone needing to understand the current regulatory environment surrounding the Internet and telecommunications generally.You will not go wrong with this volume. ... Read more

6. Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry
by Michael Dell, Catherine Fredman
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0887309151
Catlog: Book (2000-09-05)
Publisher: HarperBusiness
Sales Rank: 13226
Average Customer Review: 4.11 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1983, Michael Dell, a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, drove away from his parents' Houston home in a BMW he'd bought selling subscriptions to his hometown newspaper.  In the backseat were three personal computers.  Today, he is the chairman and CEO of Dell Computer Corporation, a $30 billion company and the second largest manufacturer and marketer of computers in the world.

Founded on a deceptively simple premise-to deliver high-performance computer systems directly to the end user-Dell Computer is the envy of its competition.  It has consistently grown at two to three times the industry rate, its stock went up more than 90,000 percent in the last decade, and Dell is now selling more than $35 million worth of systems per day over  In Direct from Dell, you will learn

  • why it's better for any business starting out to
  • have too little capital rather than too much

  • why your people pose a greater threat to the health of your business than your competition
  • how you can exploit your competition's weakness by exposing its greatest strength

  • how intergrating your business virtually can make the difference between being quick -and being dead

  • and much more 
  • ... Read more

    Reviews (110)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great read for Business & Economics Studnets
    I can understand the criticism of this book that perhaps Mike Dell should have gone more in depth about the dynamics of his company and industry. However, this being his first book that I know of I can understand why he choose to keep it short and simple, and to his credit.

    A great peak into the mind of a business man and leader who in my opinion deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence with Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Lee Iacocca et al.

    One part in particular that caught my attention was Chapter 7 where on page 95&96 he talks about his "Know The Net" initiative in order to familiarize his employees with the Internet.

    I personally liked when he stated that: "Some might argue that if you give employees access to the World Wide Web, they will spend all their time surfing the Net. But that's like saying, We don't want to teach our people how to read because they might spend all their time reading."

    Fabulous insight into Michael Dell's view of the Internet's future as a conduit for Economic Efficiency in business, school, and life.

    Great piece of literature especially for beginning Business& Economics students. Peace :-)

    5-0 out of 5 stars "Stalled Thinking" has not been a problem at Dell!
    Given Dell's track record, success and innovation, this is a book that should be read by all business executives. It should also be read by all students to provide encouragement for trying the things one wants to do and is passionate about. As a strategy book, it is well written. I was hoping to learn more of the Dell secrets, the "how tos" behind this very successful approach. I also believe the market has over reacted to Dell's recent announcement of slower (38%) earnings growth. That is still superb performance and Dell is likely to outperform and continue to meet customers' need for many years. The usual problems that stall companies: The Communications Stall, The Bureaucratic Stall, The Disbelief Stall (we can't do that here), The Misconception Stall (it's too hard to do and won't work becuase), The Unattractiveness Stall, The Procrastination Stall and The Tradition Stall (this is how we have always done it) seem not to be strong issues at Dell because the company continues to ask the right questions. This is the key to progress at a much faster rate, and/or at a much lower cost. The focus on customers and selling direct helps to make this possible. Dell can continue to do many things right in the future. It will be fun to watch them. They are poised to be a prototype company of the future.

    Whether you're an entrepreneur, a manager, a marketer, or a passionate loyalist of the compelling and always competitive offerings from the star PC firm, this semi-memoir will let you in on the madly tight ship that's known as Dell.

    It's a fairly compact fluently-written book that distills Dell's lessons for business (p.s. it's NOT a biography of Michael Dell) that lends itself to some pacy in-flight reading.

    But thinking back, I have a couple of gripes.

    In recounting the company's meteoric rise from a college dorm to the multi-million dollar company in a short couple of decades, the book advocates a fanatical belief in the power of the Internet and how it is vital to every business's survival. If you don't provide access from every one of your users' desktops, you'll be gone. I find this a bit hard to digest as a categorical generalization, and I am a net evangelist myself. But I would not have expected anything different from Dell.

    Secondly, the tone of the author(s?) occasionally takes on a doting note, and they seem to imply that Dell veritably invented the direct selling approach. This is patently misguided. A corollary that stems from this is the novel way that Dell came up with to segment customers. Somewhat cloying, this self-absorption.

    Yet, in terms of good business insights, it's a fascinating read good enough to be devoured in a day or two. Recommended, especially as a business gift.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Very inspirational
    As a young entrepreneur it helped me to believe that one can achieve their goals by having a plan and a burning desire to succeed.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great story with practical advice!
    The story of Dell Computers is an enjoyable story of how an entrepreneurial young Michael Dell couldn't contain his enthusiasm for his business idea and took it all the way. Without much to guide him beyond his instincts he made some mistakes, but he admits to these and describes them so readers can learn from them as he did. Of course, far more can be learned from what he did right. One of the more noteworthy approaches he mentions is that Dell rewards success by *reducing* the responsibilities of the successful manager- an act many use as a negative disciplinary measure in other companies. The reasoning is that after a division grows from a $10 million market to $200 million, by cutting it back to $25 million, it will be easier for the manager to focus on this smaller block, understand it better, and again grow it to $200 million or more. ... Read more

    7. Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround
    by Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
    list price: $27.95
    our price: $18.45
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060523794
    Catlog: Book (2002-11-01)
    Publisher: HarperBusiness
    Sales Rank: 11929
    Average Customer Review: 3.35 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    In 1990, IBM had its most profitable year ever. By 1993, the computer industry had changed so rapidly the company was on its way to losing $16 billion and IBM was on a watch list for extinction -- victimized by its own lumbering size, an insular corporate culture, and the PC era IBM had itself helped invent.

    Then Lou Gerstner was brought in to run IBM. Almost everyone watching the rapid demise of this American icon presumed Gerstner had joined IBM to preside over its continued dissolution into a confederation of autonomous business units. This strategy, well underway when he arrived, would have effectively eliminated the corporation that had invented many of the industry's most important technologies.

    Instead, Gerstner took hold of the company and demanded the managers work together to re-establish IBM's mission as a customer-focused provider of computing solutions. Moving ahead of his critics, Gerstner made the hold decision to keep the company together, slash prices on his core product to keep the company competitive, and almost defiantly announced, "The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision."

    Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? tells the story of IBM's competitive and cultural transformation. In his own words, Gerstner offers a blow-by-blow account of his arrival at the company and his campaign to rebuild the leadership team and give the workforce a renewed sense of purpose. In the process, Gerstner defined a strategy for the computing giant and remade the ossified culture bred by the company's own success.

    The first-hand story of an extraordinary turnaround, a unique case study in managing a crisis, and a thoughtful reflection on the computer industry and the principles of leadership, Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? sums up Lou Gerstner's historic business achievement. Taking readers deep into the world of IBM's CEO, Gerstner recounts the high-level meetings and explains the pressure-filled, no-turning-back decisions that had to be made. He also offers his hard-won conclusions about the essence of what makes a great company run.

    In the history of modern business, many companies have gone from being industry leaders to the verge of extinction. Through the heroic efforts of a new management team, some of those companies have even succeeded in resuscitating themselves and living on in the shadow of their former stature. But only one company has been at the pinnacle of an industry, fallen to near collapse, and then, beyond anyone's expectations, returned to set the agenda. That company is IBM.

    Lou Gerstener, Jr., served as chairman and chief executive officer of IBM from April 1993 to March 2002, when he retired as CEO. He remained chairman of the board through the end of 2002. Before joining IBM, Mr. Gerstner served for four years as chairman and CEO of RJR Nabisco, Inc. This was preceded by an eleven-year career at the American Express Company, where he was president of the parent company and chairman and CEO of its largest subsidiary. Prior to that, Mr. Gerstner was a director of the management consulting firm of McKinsey & Co., Inc. He received a bachelor's degree in engineering from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

    ... Read more

    Reviews (96)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Win, Execute, Team - He did it, He Tells It
    A previous reader review suggested that Mr. Gerstner's was out of touch and if readers want the real story they should read Soldier of Fortune 500. Who better than Mr. Gerstner, the man responsible for turning IBM around to write about it? Who Say's Elephants Can Dance is wonderfully candid and well written (and by Mr. Gerstner himself, without the assistance of a ghost writer). I particularly liked the passages on "inspect versus expect," managing by principles vs. process, focus on core competency and impact of culture and how to change it. These can be applied to any company.

    I am author of Soldier of Fortune 500. In fact, my book is very positive about Mr. Gerstner and what he did for IBM. I think the Gerstner book is brilliant and would recommend it to all. Rather than contradicting, my book echoes similar themes, albeit the employee view vs. CEO.

    Steve Romaine
    Author, Soldier of Fortune 500

    5-0 out of 5 stars Must reading for IT professionals and business strategists
    Lou Gerstner has succeeded in writing a book which both provides valuable insights into the computer industry and the situation and success of IBM, as well as providing a roadmap for leaders seeking to effect strategic change in any industry. He reveals that IBM was close to running out of cash in 1993 before he stepped in and kicked out the investment bankers (later pilloried as greedy suppliers of the "hooch for all of the wild speculative periods in our economic history") who were preparing to sell of IBM, a national treasure, in pieces.

    The book is easy to read, non-technical, and laced with interesting anecdotes.

    Turning around IBM was one of the greatest business achievements of our time. I have worked much of my career in companies that competed against IBM and have known many ex-IBMers. All continue to have great respect for the people and the organization. There is no question that IBM had, and has, some of the best people in the world. Yet, they became unable to execute appropriate strategies quickly, losing much of their market share in the process.

    Lou Gerstner rejuvenated the company, a task which is rarely permanently successful in the high technology world. Today, IBM still sells mainframes (much less expensive now, but an extension of the basic architecture introduced in 1964). And, that technology is still at the center of the IT organizations of many of our largest companies. Introduced later, but now long gone, are the Digital VAX, the Intel 8080, the Zilog Z80 and various computer architectures from the likes of Prime, Wang, Data General, etc. Most have been replaced by Unix or Windows.

    We have Lou Gerstner to thank for saving IBM. As the book describes, he did it by focusing on the customer, eliminating useless bureaucratic processes, and, as a non-engineer, understanding the business implications of technology change better than most within IBM. But, it was execution, focus on cash flow and profits over revenues, and constant attention to detail in strategic planning and monitoring, together with communications and leadership which saved the day for IBM.

    The title is interesting. Elizabeth Moss Kanter, a Harvard Business School Professor, wrote Teaching Elephants to Dance in 1989. Gerstner refers to some of her other works late in the book, but not this one, which appears to have provided the inspiration for the title of his book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Worth your time and then some...
    Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround by Louis V. Gerstner Jr. is insightful, entertaining, and full of valuable historical perspectives into the computer revolution. There are also many management approaches throughout the book that may seem like common sense to some of us, but clearly need to be re-evaluated by many mid and top-level executives. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and light-hearted details of the first part of the book; and found the second part of the book that detailed the major steps taken in restructuring to be equally compelling.

    I definetly recommend this to anyone in the computer industry, anyone at an executive level of any company, and to those who just enjoy reading!

    4-0 out of 5 stars A big case study on renovation
    The first part of the book is full of satire and is amusing. The rest four parts lack this satire and are a little bit boring.

    The book not presents a case study of a company innovation but describes the history of IBM in nineties. For example, the author explains in detail why OS/2 was cancelled and why did they buy Lotus and didn't buy other companies.

    It's very exciting to read how the CEO has diagnosed the problems of the company and which solutions did he find.

    I would also recommend "Leading the Revolution" by Gary Hamel. It is a very serious examination on how companies innovate and why should they do it, with lots of remarkable examples. Gary Hamel uses plain friendly language.

    The books of Chris Argyris about organizational learning are also about innovation. Although the language style is "academical", the books are interesting and somewhat unique.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Overall, good, but had a few problems
    `Now before getting turned off from the stars, let me just say this: the rating reflects, for the most part, my personal connection to the book. The book itself, as well as the author, is very nice. The writing, and style of, is also nicely done. However, the writing may set you off if youfre a gslowh individual such as myself. Most authors, when writing about business, generally use the expression grepetition, repetition, repetition.h Gerstner on the other hand is very straightforward and`` doesnft repeat as much as other authors. Again, this is not bad; I however, donft care for it.

    The subject matter is very well organized and easy to pick up, even in cases where you need to look up a quote. The first part, entitles gGrabbing Holdh mainly talks about the background to IBMfs problems and the effects. Part two, gStrategyh is well, self-explanatory. Part three, gCultureh talks about corporate culture inside and outside of IBM. Part four, another self-explanatory piece,`` is gLessons Learnedh. Lastly, you have the Appendices.

    While reading this, I found that this was not all about IBM. A lot of it wasnft about large corporations at that. What I did notice was that a lot of saying, quotes, teachings and the such, could also be applied to other fields of life, both in and out of business. I use the comparison to gPoor Richardfs Almanach a lot, but it seems to fit and describes it quite well.

    Again, this is not a bad book, not at all. Personally,` however, I had a few problems with the writing and such, but I do recommend it as a good read. ... Read more

    8. Secrets of the Game Business (Game Development Series)
    by Francois Dominic Laramee
    list price: $39.95
    our price: $27.17
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1584502827
    Catlog: Book (2003-02-05)
    Publisher: Charles River Media
    Sales Rank: 78073
    Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    As the game industry continues to grow, you might be considering jumping in, but before you do, read what the insiders have to say and learn from their experiences. You’ll explore the inner workings of the game development and publishing industry through the experiences and insights of industry experts. These publishing executives, developers, veteran producers, designers, owners of independent studios, and academics have written a unique collection of articles that really delve into the intricacies of the business. The articles, case studies, and interviews cover all aspects of the industry, providing real-world examples that illustrate how successful companies and individuals have achieved their goals. Everything is covered, from how the retail market works to financing a start-up and deciding on the right business model for your game.

    This is a must-have resource for anyone interested in starting a game development studio or improving an existing one.

    * Publishers & Developers: this section examines the roles of publishers and retailers, explains how games get to market, and describes the industry’s economics.
    * Game Development Startups: describes how to prepare for the creation of a new game development company and succeed in a difficult market.
    * Taking a Game to Market: teaches developers how to approach publishers, maximize the odds of their games reaching store shelves, and negotiate contracts that protect their long-term interests.
    * Managing Game Development: contains advice on ways to make the long, arduous production process as smooth and pleasant as possible.

    * Sean Timarco Baggaley
    * Ed Bartlett
    * Tom Buscaglia
    * Beverly Cambron
    * Melanie Cambron
    * Chris Campbell
    * Sande Chen
    * Thomas Djafari
    * François Dominic Laramée
    * Philippe Larrue
    * William Lazonick
    * Heather Maxwell
    * Mason McCuskey
    * Mitzi McGilvray
    * Mary O’Sullivan
    * Javier Otaegui
    * Terri Perkins
    * Borut Pfeifer
    * Jay Powell
    * Kathy Schoback
    * Michael Sellers
    * Tom Sloper
    * Grant Stanton
    * Johanna Wilson ... Read more

    Reviews (4)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great for the startup developer!
    There is a review already on here claiming that the book is poor because he was an industry veteran and the book didn't teach him anything new. I find that rather like picking up a 2nd grade "learn to read" book and claiming that it is not valuable because you already know how to read. Obviously this book is not targeted to industry veterans.

    However, the book IS targeted at people who are new to the game development industry and want to know it works from a business, legal and production standpoint. In that role, it performs admirably. The writers are all established voices in the industry and share their insight well. As the president of a small development studio, I have 7 or 8 little flags poking out of the top of my copy for topics that I want to reread or reference once in a while.

    I believe that the book will be of help to anyone thinking of starting a new studio right up through their first year of business. As long as you believe that your time is worth money, the price of this book it is worth spending so as to save yourself the time and headache of trying to figure it out on your own.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Save your money
    I wouldn't say there are any secrets in this book. I'm an experienced product and marketing manager in the high tech industry. There was some interesting information that pertained to licensing terms and some breakouts of budgets, that was it.

    Definitely not worth $32. Maybe half the price.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Collection
    Reviewing a collection of essays isn't easy, because they are by definition a hodgepodge of widely-varying subjects, similar to a restaurant reviewer who's charged with reviewing a buffet. A buffet that is mostly excellent could get an overall mediocre rating if there's a really frightening tub of vegetable mush that wrecks the whole experience, and a review of a mostly mediocre buffet could scare people away from a truly excellent entrée hiding in there. The only buffets that are easy to review are the ones that are 100% good or 100% bad, and those are a rare thing.

    Thankfully, the editor Francois Dominic Laramee has made my job easy by editing together a uniformly excellent collection of essays on the game business. The essays are all well-written, and Mr. Laramee has done a terrific job of editing them together into a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts (along with contributing four essays himself). The authors represent a good cross-section of independent developers and game company executives, all of whom appear to be quite willing to impart their own business wisdom to the reader.

    One thing I liked right away was that the material is all presented in concrete terms and not some nebulous motivational-speaker gibberish. The authors, on the whole, are more than happy to provide real numbers and case-studies to back up their claims. The subjects covered are wide-ranging, going from do's and don'ts of dealing with publishers, putting together a business model and business plan, managing a project that won't get cancelled, and specific "wrap up" topics like managing customer-support in MMORPG games.

    Another pleasant surprise (likely due to Laramee's Quebecer heritage) is that the essays are not USA-centric, as you see in most books about business. While there are certainly plenty of case-studies of US companies, there are also some essays about the game industry in Europe and how to deal with offshore contractors.

    _Secrets of the Game Business_ should be required reading for anyone with plans to become an independent game developer. While it's far from a complete guide on how to get into the business, lacking things like the legal minutiae of obtaining copyrights and trademarks and making work-for-hire agreements, this book is a terrific overview of how to build a product, work with a publisher/producer, and get your product on the shelf. Happy reading!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent for understanding the publisher better!
    I've acquired a few books about game development and the game business, yet this is the first one that truly gave me the information I had wondered about for some time now. Many questions regarding royalty rates, the process of going from a game in its gold copy all the way to the retailer's shelves, and more are explained here.

    This book helps to clear up any misconceptions that developers often have about the publisher, as well as keep future and startup development teams primed and with a good guideline of what to expect.

    Definitely worth having in your collection, especially if you're a new developer like myself, or are intending to get involved with the game industry. ... Read more

    9. How We Got Here : A Slightly Irreverent History of Technology and Markets
    by Andy Kessler
    list price: $14.95
    our price: $10.17
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060840978
    Catlog: Book (2005-06-01)
    Publisher: HarperBusiness
    Sales Rank: 152139
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    Book Description

    Best-selling author Andy Kessler ties up the loose ends from his provocative book, Running Money, with this history of breakthrough technology and the markets that funded them.

    Expanding on themes first raised in his tour de force, Running Money, Andy Kessler unpacks the entire history of Silicon Valley and Wall Street, from the Industrial Revolution to computers, communications, money, gold and stock markets. These stories cut (by an unscrupulous editor) from the original manuscript were intended as a primer on the ways in which new technologies develop from unprofitable curiosities to essential investments. Indeed, How We Got Here is the book Kessler wishes someone had handed him on his first day as a freshman engineering student at Cornell or on the day he started on Wall Street. This book connects the dots through history to how we got to where we are today. ... Read more

    10. Fire in the Valley: The Making of The Personal Computer
    by Paul Freiberger, Michael Swaine
    list price: $16.95
    our price: $16.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0071358927
    Catlog: Book (1999-11-29)
    Publisher: McGraw-Hill Trade
    Sales Rank: 56591
    Average Customer Review: 4.47 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan Reviews

    In the early 1970s, while Silicon Valley was designing the latest generation of digital wristwatches and pocket calculators, a ragtag group of college dropouts, hippies, and electronics hobbyists were busy creating the future in their garages. What they built was the personal computer, but what they were aiming for was something much more ambitious: a revolution. Fire in the Valley is the story of their efforts, and in particular, the contributions of an informal think tank called the Homebrew Computer Club. Its technically gifted community, comprising sci-fi aficionados and Berkeley counterculturists, believed computers could usher in an age of human empowerment, perhaps even a utopia.

    The club's most famous member is Steve Jobs of Apple, whose story is told here, as is Bill Gates's, who was strongly influenced by Homebrew. What sets Fire in the Valley apart from the many other books about early days at Apple and Microsoft, though, is its focus on the brilliant engineers and coders who built the foundation that would eventually support those two companies. They included ex-Berkley Barb editor and hardware designer Lee Felsenstein, who was adamant about using computers for populist ends; Adam Osborne, who took PCs to the next level by making them portable; hacker legend John "Captain Crunch" Draper, who used telephony for his own mischievous purposes; and activist Ted Nelson, the Thom Paine of the computer revolution.

    The cast of characters is sometimes tough to keep track of, and authors Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine have wisely included a graphic timeline in the first pages of the book that readers will find useful. It stretches from 1800 to 1999, encompassing events that have occurred since Fire in the Valley's original 1984 publication. This second edition includes new chapters and photographs to document the last 15 years, but they serve as more of an epilogue than a new act in this drama. The Homebrew Club's mark on personal computing history is cemented, and Fire in the Valley is an engaging account of it, one that should inspire readers everywhere. --Demian McLean ... Read more

    Reviews (32)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Too many authors almost spoil the pot
    I'll admit it. I became interested in this book from the TNT movie, "Pirates of Silicon Valley". While this book did a good job telling about the important developers in the computer world, it sometimes seemed like the 2 authors hadn't spoken to each other about what each was going to write about. There were numerous times where the same information and humorous stories were repeated just a few pages apart. This was a good start though to learning some background in the birth of the personal computer.

    After finishing this book, you should read, "Renegades of the Empire" by Michael Drummond. This gives more information about the Microsoft covert operations to thwart other companies!

    4-0 out of 5 stars The bible of PC history.
    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining or informative chronicle of the hobbyists and entrepeneurs who created the multi-billion dollar PC industry from practically out of nowhere in the mid 70's. The basis of the great HBO movie Pirates of Silicon Valley starring Noah Wyle and Anthony Michael Hall, to call it a page-turner would be gross understatment.

    From the Altair to Apple to the world-wide pervasiveness of the Internet, the entire tale is told in an entertaining and easily read manner, accompanied by a wealth of facinating photographs. Early history with companies such as MITS and IMSAI battling it out for the hearts and minds of computer hobbyists is painstakingly covered, along with a careful tracking of the rise of two pairs of PC pioneers: Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak, and Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Over and over the reader is baffled by the ignorance of the large corporations unable or unwilling to understand the market for computers on desks or people's homes, and the bravado of garage start-ups convinced they're on the brink of a new revolution. Originally published in 1984, the book has been painstakingly reviewed and updated by its authors to bring it up to events in 1999.

    There are a few bugs, however. Things tend to drag a bit in the middle portion as the authors detail the hobby groups and magazines that sprang up to cover the PC action. Also, I counted only one measy mention of the Amiga, and Commodore only receives a handful of mentions. Of course, what did Commodore ever do for the computer industry, besides creating the C-64, still the single best-selling computer line of all time? This continues a baffling ignorance of Commodore's immense contribution to personal computer history on the parts of digital historians.

    But besides this oversight, Fire in the Valley is still an addictive page-turner. It really is a bible for anyone even remotely interested in how this whole business got started, much to the surprise of even those who created it.

    4-0 out of 5 stars It's how we got where we are today...
    The TV movie based on this book was rather lame, but this is a great read on how the PC revolution got started.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Competent overview but no depth
    This breezy read lightly covers the evolution of the personal computer mostly from the introduction of Altair until Steve Jobs' departure from Apple Computer. Covering as many people, machines and companies as possible the authors don't have time for a in-depth look at anything. The result seems like a 400 plus page newspaper or magazine article. The "Collector's Edition" has several additional chapters covering industry events up to 2000 and also contains a CD-ROM with more materials. I have not reviewed the CD-ROM.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great review
    One those books that gives a real pleasure to read. If you are interested on how computers took over control of our lives and how a few advanced thinkers created what computers are today, you'll enjoy this book. It starts from the very beginning. No screens, no keyborads, just switchs!!!!! Have you ever wondered how computers evolved and who made it possible? Here is. Besides, there are some fantastic pictures from all those that started it all. Accurate book and full of interesting information. If you want to know all that happened, buy it. Strongly recommended. ... Read more

    11. Accidental Empires
    by Robert X. Cringely
    list price: $15.00
    our price: $10.20
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0887308554
    Catlog: Book (1996-10-23)
    Publisher: HarperBusiness
    Sales Rank: 181456
    Average Customer Review: 4.53 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (60)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Change of pace
    Tired of reading fawning novels about the movers and shakers of the computing age? Tired of reading tired knowledge passed off as far reaching vision because the author happened to be in the right place and made a pile of money?

    This is the book for you. Robert Cringley has no reason to be nice to anyone since (1) he writes a column on the dirt of the industry and (2) his name is a pseudonym.

    So, the gloves are off, and no holds are barred.

    Of course, there are a few of Cringely's laws, and some of those tired bits of vision (broadband. It's the next big thing, as of 1996. Spitting distance to 2001 and I'm still waiting!).

    The addendum to the 1996 edition is interesting, since it's less predictive than the 1992 edition. Sometime between 1996 and the present, things changed in ways that no one expected, and the predictions are rather amusing. In 1992, looking at the 'new' 486s and looking at the future, the vision is true.

    If you want to see someone analyze everyone's personality defects, in depth, this is the book for you. If not, there's plenty else to read.

    I'd recommend this work.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book.
    A short read that tells the seemingly blunderous history of the PC industry. The story is told in a witty and accurate manner - quite the joy to read. All of the major companies are chronicled, including Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Xerox, etc.

    The book was first written in 1991 - with a couple chapters added during the 1996 reprint. As such; the book doesn't cover items of the last eight years with much detail. But it more than makes up for it with it's portrayal of the first 20 years.

    1-0 out of 5 stars This is NOT a funny book
    Now, I've read a lot of books and taken something from all of them, good or bad. However, I would have to say this is the only book I ever regret having read. Being in the business and half decent at my work (ego driven dictator in Cringley speak), I found the 300 odd pages of his ranting and raving against anyone with talent and vision a little hard to swallow. Don't get me wrong, it's a fascinating story, but ruined by his poorly camouflaged bitterness at his own failings as an engineer. And no, I'm not Steve Jobs.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Stories of techies and profiteering
    "Accidental" refers to the fact that a lot of these guys really just loved to play with electronics and computers but for the few for whom everything fell into place perfectly, the reward was wealth beyond their wildest imagination. Read about how incompatible some true tech personalities can be with the mundane reality of the business world; I thoroughly enjoyed the story of the guy who held up the completion of a pivotal product so that he could measure the reflectivity of the ceiling tiles in his office. Contrast with the ego-driven salemen and capitalists who were there simply because there was money to be made and you may find yourself more appreciative of the genuine nature of the "average" brainiac. This book was really written before the dot-com era, but likely the same dramas were played out then and will be played out again some day, with only the names and subject matter changed.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Funny and Informative
    Crigenly tells the compelling story of the uprising of a small company becoming a million dollar businesss. He is very informative on the histroy of the computers in a different tone and style of writing that is easily understandable. ... Read more

    12. Revolution in The Valley (hardcover)
    by Andy Hertzfeld
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $16.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0596007191
    Catlog: Book (2004-12-01)
    Publisher: O'Reilly
    Sales Rank: 14563
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    13. Overdrive: Bill Gates and the Race to Control Cyberspace
    by James Wallace
    list price: $24.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0471180416
    Catlog: Book (1997-05-01)
    Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
    Sales Rank: 606523
    Average Customer Review: 3.53 out of 5 stars
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    While Microsoft was occupied with the largest, most expensive consumer marketing effort in history, the launch of Windows 95, Netscape was equally busy capturing the Web browser market. By mid-1995 it looked as if Bill Gates and company had missed the paradigm shift created by the Internet, and many pundits doubted Microsoft could recover. Meanwhile, the Justice Department was aggressively investigating claims of unfair practices levied by Microsoft's competitors. Suddenly the company found itself in the unfamiliar role of lumbering corporate giant--and underdog. James Wallace's Overdrive, his sequel to Hard Drive, is the story of Microsoft's response to this challenge. A veteran investigative reporter, the author paints a vivid portrait of Gates's determination and competitive ferocity, with a host of revealing anecdotes and details as backdrop. The battle for control of cyberspace is far from over, but Microsoft is clearly not to be trifled with. The tale of how the company repositioned itself in the race makes for fascinating reading. ... Read more

    Reviews (15)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this book,Gates's fans, if u had read Hard Drive
    Don't miss this book if u had read James Wallace's Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the making of Microsoft empire. Because this book contain Gates's next way to mantain his empire from internet wave. Just like Hard Drive ,this book is well written: Complete and detail but still easy to read and understand. It is still the easiest to read and understand Gates's book compare with other similar book.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Didn't really meet expectations
    I read Hard Drive and like it a lot. I work with computers and I am very interested in the whole history of how things developed and how MS managed to stay on top. I liked this book, but I have to give it 3 starts because it really didn't keep me interested a whole lot. The part about Netscape and how MS almost totally missed the Internet was great. What is most amazing to me is how they turned it around and blew everybody away, which is not easy task for a company that size. Although the litigation against MS should be mentioned because it's part of the history of the company, the chapters about the lawsuits were way too long and boring. I can imagine that a lot of people gave up reading it after chapter 2, with so many names thrown around. Maybe if I were a lawyer I would've enjoyed more. I would read another book by the author as he did a good job on the research, perhaps in a few years it's going to be about how MS dominated the Internet. Hopefully, it'll be more focused on that subject.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Have to read this book to know more about Bill Gates.
    This is one of the best written books out there on Bill Gates and the reason seems to be the journalistic background of the author that is so well suited for this kind of biographical account. The book has numerous real life stories of not just Gates but other legends as well like Marc Andreessen. Like me, you may also find that it is hard to put this book down once you pick it up and start reading it (almost on any page, any chapter).

    If you are in the Information Technology field, you will no doubt thoroughly enjoy this book but it isn't written just for someone knowledgeable in computers. Almost anyone can read this book with little difficulty as the focus is not on technology terms but on the lives behind the technology and the Internet revolution. After reading this book, you will definitely catch up on the events of the last 15 years or so that have changed the world into one filled with computers and the Internet everywhere.

    The paper used in the hard cover edition of this book feels strange to the touch and is not the normal paper you would find in most books. It feels more like cheap paper with a strange white color and the font used throughout looks like one of the generic fonts from the eighties. This alone discouraged me from reading this book for the first few months after I had bought it. But when I finally decided to read it, I instantly moved it to the top of my reading list.

    If you are a budding entrepreneur wanting to topple Bill Gates' empire with some revolutionary idea that you are building in your garage or apartment, you HAVE to read this book. It is inspirational as it gets the hair on the back of your neck to stand up for most of the book and it gives you raw data to analyze and strategize how to succeed in this highly competitive market place.

    The same author also wrote 'Hard Drive' which was a best seller prior to 'Overdrive' and I plan on reading 'Hard Drive' next as I am so impressed by 'Overdrive'. The thing that really got me hooked on this book is the author's writing style where he keeps your attention the WHOLE time. He does it by hooking into your emotions as evidenced by his account of Bill Gates' visit to Orlando, Florida in 1993 where he gets stuck in a traffic jam. As the author reveals the cause of the traffic jam (everyone from around 100 miles all going to the Sheraton hotel to listen to Bill Gates talk) you can't help but chuckle at the hilarious situation Bill is in (since he is the cause). The book is full of several such accounts where you can't stop reading!

    Working on a startup company myself, I was looking around for biographical books on successful entrepreneurs to get some ideas and informaiton that I can analyze for myself and find some patterns. I then came across a few books focused on Bill Gates (this being the best) all of which I purchased immediately. I have not been disappointed. This book is headed for my long term collection. I hope that you too enjoy this book!

    2-0 out of 5 stars Actually In Park
    Gossipy, disorganized and poorly written anti-Gates screed. This book is so badly written it's hard to get through it, even for someone who is a knee jerk hater of Chairman Bill (like, well, me). The author meanders about, jumping from topic to topic like a kangaroo, leaving the reader at first dazed and confused, but finally bored and annoyed. Worse, he spends an inordinate amount of time discussing Gates personal life, from the chairman's alleged over attachment to his mother to the birth of his kids. Excuse me, but I'm interested in the business end of Gates' life, I don't care if he wants his mommy. Wallace spends an entire chapter gushing about Gates' Hawaiian wedding and how exclusive and elaborate it was. Doubtless Wallace is envious, I was bored. The anti-trust battles are poorly explained, at best, why did Bingaman refuse to prosecute chairman bill? We can only guess. This book has little to recommend it, although Judge Sporkin thought highly of the prequol, HARD DRIVE. I never read it, and after reading this disjointed mess I don't think I will.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good, but diffused
    This is a very informative and eye-opening book on the policies of Microsoft. What I didn't like in here is that a lot of material that has nothing to do with the main subject matter has been discussed at length. I don't understand why a whole chapter (out of a total of about 6) has been devoted to Mr. Gates' wedding. There is also some discussion on the history of the island where his wedding took place! ... Read more

    14. Necessary But Not Sufficient
    by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Eli Schragenheim, Carol A. Ptak
    list price: $19.95
    our price: $13.57
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0884271706
    Catlog: Book (2000-10)
    Publisher: North River Press
    Sales Rank: 90094
    Average Customer Review: 3.29 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (21)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Far and away worst Goldratt
    I have thouroughly enjoyed Goldratt's other books--each taught me a new framework and how to apply it. Each taught in an interesting and easy to follow manner, and applied the framework to many different problems. This book didn't do that. It restated that the concepts that we learned in the Goal, Critical Chain, and Its not Luck are good and still apply, but doesn't add anything new. As far as I can tell, the only new idea briefly appears in the last chapters-- dollar-day metrics; and seems to appear from out of the blue. On the positive side, the style of writing hasn't changed much-- its still easy to read. If you've read the previous Goldratt books, don't bother. If you haven't, don't bother--go read them!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Equal to The Goal
    If you're wondering why you didn't get a powerful return on your new ERP system, read this. Just as Eli's first book, The Goal, explained why manufacturing (in the '80's) was doing so poorly, Eli and his co-authors provide an equally lucid look at why ERP systems so seldom produce the return the vendors promise. Written in a story form, it identifies the problems faced by ERP system companies, systems integrators, and of course, their clients, the manufacturing companies.

    There are also glimpses of what makes advanced planning and scheduling important, an interesting way of developing a pull-based supply chain, and a VERY interesting perspective on getting supply chain partners to collaborate. The book is not meant as an exhastive reference, but only a means to get you to think. It succeeds.

    I would have given it 5 stars, but there are too many typos, and I think they could have gone more deeply into many of the subjects they brushed over. It would have been more satisfying to have a little more depth at the expense of breadth.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Worst of the TOC Novels
    This book has very little new material from previous TOC books. It doesn't lead the reader as well as The Goal or It's Not Luck. In short it is a "Rah-Rah" book telling the reader how great TOC is without giving much detail and in the context of a novel that doesn't create a great amount of character sympathy. I really don't understand how a man as brilliant as Goldratt could have written this. Get The Goal, It's Not Luck, and the appropriate textbook(s) to implement TOC in your business.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Student's point of View
    I'm a student at Tec de Monterrey, in Mexico City. I've been assigned to read The Goal, it wasn't luck and this necessary but not suficient. I have to say that when i read the goald and it's second part i really loved the book. I was introduced to this concepts like DBR and inventory management. While i was reading necessary... i thought, this is by far the worst book written by this author (also read the race).

    As a novel there's nothing exciting about it, is not that the other's had me in the edge of my chair, but at least there u could feel the threat was bigger, closing the factory and selling three of them.

    And here trying to use TOC and DBD in the technology environment just doesn't work. U could see where the book was going to end, probably cause we are living in that time where u have to make the future.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely necessary
    This book is a journey of about a year and a quarter into the ERP market through the eyes of a hypothetical company BGSoft and its implementation partner KPI Solutions. Scott the CEO of BGSoft is a visionary who delivers business results for his clients through his ERP software. Lenny the head of Development, Gail his marketing chief and Maggie of KPI are the other key players in this novel.

    Like any other technology company BGSoft faces the uphill task of growing 40 % every year if it has to keep the analysts happy and retain its stock price. It is a key player in the ERP market and its customers are primarily Fortune 1000 companies who can afford the investments and fuel the growth that BGSoft is aiming at. Suddenly Scott realizes that most of the big companies have already adopted ERP and their next best bet is to look for mid size companies. If there are no more deer left in the forest then one has to go after the rabbits. Hunting for rabbits needs the same effort and results in lesser meat per win. Can BGSoff continue to grow at the same rate?

    Now there is an unusual call from Craig, CEO of Pierco one of BGSoft's largest customers. Thanks to a new Director, his Board has asked him to justify the investment that he has made in ERP. Call it by whatever name or any flavor of the latest technology jargon, the Board wants to know the impact on two important measures - top line and bottom line. The story now takes a very interesting turn, turning away from the routine issues of features, schedules, budgets, bugs, staffing and project management that are characteristic of any ERP company. The primary issue then becomes delivering true business value that customers can get from IT solutions rather than implementing software from leading vendors on fancy technologies.

    Once again, it is worthwhile to mention - Top line and Bottom line - what comes in from the customers and what is retained for the shareholders. Get this right or get out of here is the message for all CEOs. BGSoft now sees a paradigm shift - they need to sell value and not just software.

    ERP implementations are typically seen as automating data flow across different functions in an organization. True, it enables to break walls within but sadly the rules of the game continue to remain unchanged, defeating the purpose of better information flow. Technology is necessary, but not sufficient is the core theme of this book.

    In the process of helping Craig to find justification for his investment in BGSoft' ERP, we get a deep inside view of Pierco's operations. Excess inventory, production bottlenecks and plenty of infighting between functions who are expected to work towards common goals. Performance measures continue to aim at locally optimal solutions ignoring the final impact on customer service.

    Scott is quick to introduce the concepts of TOC- Drum-Buffer Rope method and Buffer management in Pierco. This releases forty percent capacity but causes an unexpected problem- plenty of inventory. TOC concept is then extended to distribution and soon across the entire operations of Pierco. Inventory is kept close to the plant and shipments to warehouses are based on replenishment of actual sales. The entire process shifts from "Push" to "Pull". The results are dramatic. Craig is celebrating!

    Craig calls on Scott and Maggie with a proposal to extend the solution to all his vendors and clients. Internet technologies would help. He is keen to focus on his business and not worry about software, hardware, upgrades and the hassles of the IT function. If KPI could help him, he is willing to part with half a percent of his revenues for the services to begin with and then it would jump to one percent a year.

    Focus on results for the business, and keep the software simple. Do not allow the tendency of adding feature after feature to complicate the ERP. Extend the solution across the entire supply chain to service the end customer as one logical entity. The top line and bottom line would head north, is a very clear message from this book. ... Read more

    15. Hard Drive : Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire
    by James Wallace, Jim Erickson
    list price: $17.95
    our price: $12.21
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0887306292
    Catlog: Book (1993-05-26)
    Publisher: HarperBusiness
    Sales Rank: 19379
    Average Customer Review: 4.87 out of 5 stars
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    Hard Drive charts Gates's missteps as well as his successes: thefailure of OS/2 and the embarrassing delays in bringing Windows to themarketplace; the highly publicized split with IBM, which then forged analliance with Apple to battle Microsoft; the public relations falloutover various exploits of Gates; and the investigations bythe Federal Trade Commission. Wallace and Erickson also examine thecombative, often abrasive side of Gates's personality that has alienatedmany of Microsoft's rivals and even employees, and led to his beinglabeled "The Silicon Bully" by Business Month Magazine. They report:

    In the early 80's, Microsoft's Multiplan lost out to Lotus 1-2-3 in themarketplace. According to one Microsoft programmer, a few of the keypeople working on DOS 2.0 had a saying at the time that "DOS isn't doneuntil Lotus won't run." They managed to code a few hidden bugs into DOS2.0 that caused Lotus 1-2-3 to breakdown when it was loaded. "Therewere as few as three or four people who knew this was being done," theemployee said. He felt the highly competitive Gates was the ringleader.

    The first two female executives hired at Microsoft in 1985 wererecruited to meet federal affirmative action guidelines so that thecompany could qualify for a lucrative Air Force contract. One sourcesays,"They would say, 'Well, let's hire two women because we can pay themhalf as much as we will have to pay a man, and we can give them all thisother crap work to do because they are women.' That's directly out ofBill's mouth...." Gates treated one of these executives so badly thatshe asked to be transferred away from him.

    Microsoft managers used the company's e-mail system tosecretly spy on employee work habits. Only those employees who workedweekends could collect bonuses. In time word got out and some employeeslogged into their e-mail on weekends with a modem from home so it wouldappear they had come in. ... Read more

    Reviews (31)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Definitive History of Microsoft
    (By Edward Trimnell, author of "Why You Need a Foreign Language & How to Learn One," ISBN:1591133343)

    This book is required reading for anyone who is interested in:

    1) Computers and software
    2) Microsoft
    3) Entrepreneurship

    Hard Drive is as readable as a novel. The book covers the history of Bill Gates' rise to power with expert thoroughness. There are numerous insights into the man and company--not all of which are flattering.

    If you have ever wondered how the current PC software market reached its current state, then you will find the answers within these pages. The authors portray the struggles between Microsoft, Lotus, IBM, and Apple from the technical, commercial, and human perspectives.

    The book is also balanced in its handling of one of the business world's most controversial personalities. Gates admirers and detractors alike will find ammunition in Hard Drive.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great book written by two very talented journalists
    I had heard a lot about this book and I finally got around to reading it a while back and have to say that it was time well spent. Not only the book is a well versed discussion of how to succeed through hard drive, it is also a reflection and warning on how ambition, when unchecked, and an unbalanced life can turn into greed, complete paranoia and life driven by fear rather than the excitement of accomplishment. The book tries to be balanced and shows the evolution of a boy genius to a driven shrewd industry leader to a completely paranoid ego maniac. Not having any opinions of Gates when I started to read the book, besides the fact that he was a successful and driven person worthy of examination, I could not help but to admire him in his youth for his dedication and drive. By the middle of the book when Microsoft finally establishes itself in Bellevue, one sees the transformation of a workaholic and challenge driven person, to a paranoid almost parasitic individual, who surrounds himself with technologically unaccomplished little demons -- such as Steve Ballmer and Mike Maples -- who will do his dirty job for him and will fetch/steal and confiscate other people's hard earned technologies such as C-U-SeeMe, Go, Inuit, Borland technologies and even DOS etc. Paul Alan by this point is out of the picture suffering from cancer (probably from the guilt of being part of it all) and shunned by his old partner Bill. When one reads the account of Microsoft's attitude toward Lotus (putting bugs in DOS allegedly to break Lotus 123), one understands why Chairman Bill -- like Chairman Mao -- is being credited for transforming/destroying a culture, and according the the founder of Lotus creating a kingdom of the dead. By this time pity turns into complete dislike. Following Microsoft's recent attitude toward Java/Netscape/Inuit/3COM one is left but to wonder 1). where the heck has the justice department been upto now! and 2). will Xanadu be Citizen's Gates last place in history.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Buy About the #1 Guy at the Pinnacle
    Should I Buy This Book?

    The story is starting to get a bit dated but the book still has 95% of the Gates story warts and all. He is one of the most compelling and admired and maybe feared business leaders today.

    Unlike Jack Welch, another great leader and manager, he started from zero or near zero in a new field and (largely) owned the company. I remember seeing the personal computers for sale in the 70's - just pre Microsoft - that did not come with anything other than a very rudimentary software. He was one of the first people to recognize the dollar value of the software and to charge for its use in the hobby market. Since then he has dominated the market. Now there is a computer in virtually every office and home using his (expensive high margin) software. Now he has the resources to buy anything he wants, or to support any charity or university, or buy a sizeable portion of the stock in almost any company that he wishes. And of course he has no debt. He used no risky leverage or tricks. He took the software and generated billions of dollars in cash and securities on hand. It is quite the story.

    This is a relatively short book and an easy read. Frankly it is a must read for anyone running their own business and or in the Tech field. Gates is the statistical anomaly who sits at the very pinnacle. He is perched even above Warren Buffet the financial guru who is at least 20 years older than Gates. But Gates was astute enough to buy DOS for $50,000. and then had the business smarts and drive to market and sell the product. He was a hands on manager working long hours and a technical leader. He was (is) as smart or smarter than anyone else in the field. He did not invent any major new invention but he had the practical ability to take the product to market and make it work, make it better, and build a winning business. He hired great people and built a team that literally crushed the opposition including IBM and all foreign competitors in that area. It is only now two decades later that people are (seriously) starting to consider alternatives such as Linux, and these still have a lot of catch up to do.

    Still a great book and a great yarn. A must buy 5 stars.

    Jack in Toronto

    5-0 out of 5 stars Hard Drive and the GENIUS BILL GATES
    Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire is a great book. James Wallace and Jim Erickson gives us an insight as to how Bill Gates really is as a person. The genius Bill Gates at the mere age of 13 was completely different from any ordinary 13 year old. He had ideas that would once lead world into future. If anyone really wants to know as to how the future billionare thought, then I recommend this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Accurate Account of How It All Started
    I fine myself re-reading this novel from time to time. It's that good. From the time Bill Gates recited passages from the bible to win a dinner at Seattle Space Needle to becoming the riches man in world has led many people including myself to "emulate" this figure's work ethics if not his flaws. In some small way, we can be just as sucessful as a billionaire as long as we stay away from the "Darkside". It's how Microsoft got the contracts to support the Altair; the flourishing program language business; they're plan for oversea expansion with Kay Nishi; what they did with the money that rolled in and yes, Bill's hygene problem.(LOL) This is how it happen - not how Pirates of SV wrongfully portrayed events for the sake of entertainment. ... Read more

    16. Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
    by Steven Levy
    list price: $15.00
    our price: $10.20
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0141000511
    Catlog: Book (2001-01)
    Publisher: Penguin Putnam
    Sales Rank: 35679
    Average Customer Review: 4.49 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Today, technology is cool.Owning the most powerful computer, the latest high-tech gadget, and the whizziest web site is a status symbol on a par with having a flashy car or a designer suit.And a media obsessed with the digital explosion has reappropriated the term "computer nerd" so that it's practically synonymous with "entrepreneur."Yet, a mere fifteen years ago, wireheads hooked on tweaking endless lines of code were seen as marginal weirdos, outsiders whose world would never resonate with the mainstream.That was before one pioneering work documented the underground computer revolution that was about to change our world forever.With groundbreaking profiles of Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, MIT's tech Model Railroad Club, and more, Steven Levy's Hackers brilliantly captures a seminal moment when the risk takers and explorers were poised to conquer twentieth-century America's last great frontier.And in the Internet age, "the hacker ethic"--first espoused here--is alive an well. ... Read more

    Reviews (65)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Mr. Levy is like a neo-Tom Wolfe. Highly readable.
    I've owned this book for about 15 years, and have read it perhaps 30 or more times. The tale is familiar by now, but the storytelling is compelling, and the subject matter fascinating.

    Hackers covers the computer revolution- from research lab to home- up to approximately 1984, right before the Commodore 64 took over as #1 home computer. Even though the book is a large one, Mr. Levy keeps the focus on a single winding narrative throughout. This makes the book interesting to read and relatively easy to follow, but unfortunately tends to leave out parts of the computer revolution that don't fit into his rigid outline.

    The outline is as follows: hacking begins at MIT and spreads to Stanford, and we see the genesis of video games in Spacewar. A new movement sprouts in post-hippie California with the release of Intel's first 8-bit chips, and this movement- dedicated to homebrew and user-built systems- is the font from which the Altair and the Apple II spring. Finally, the narrative ends on the rise of game software companies- especially Sierra- on the strength of the Apple II's market share. There's also an epilogue on Richard Stallman. While other stories are recounted in short fashion along the way- John Harris' Sierra/Frogger/Atari story in particular- little is done to acknowledge the larger picture of the industry, whether it's universities outside of MIT and Stanford or Atari's massive rise to and fall from power.

    Steven Levy writes much like Tom Wolfe circa-"Right Stuff", and the overall theme and feel of the book is the same as much of Tom Wolfe's books- an expose of a (then) little understood sub-culture, written in an engaging fashion. Even Mr. Levy's use of coined words, phrases, and lingo is much like Tom Wolfe. Technical jargon will be introduced with a simple definition, and then used through the next few chapters either in an ironic fashion, or to let readers feel "in" with the scenario being written about. Bizarre wording and odd phrases also pop up- sometimes apparently for show- and are then repeated over and over. "Croseus Mode" is used over and over to refer to wealth- phrasing like this seems gratuitous and I find it jarring to read, but that's just a personal preference.

    Much of the Apple portion of the book will be familiar for those who watched Pirates of Silicon Valley. Just like that TV movie, the book transcends the culture from which it arose, and is great reading for anyone interested in pop culture, sociology, business, or computers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Classic book, a must read in its field.

    This book is not about computer crime, despite the impression you may get from the title. In fact, the whole thrust of the book is to study those people who called themselves hackers before the first computer crime had ever been commited, together with their successors who clung to the name even after it had picked up darker connotations.

    The story starts with the original hackers at the AI lab at MIT.

    Whilst the Computer Science department at MIT had a typical hierarchical chain of command, something slipped at the nearby AI lab where somehow the lunatics had control of the asylum.

    Levy details the glorious early years at the AI lab where hacking was all, elegance won out every time against pragmatism and bedtime was always the wee small hours. Not content with inventing many fundamentals of computer science such as Lisp and time-sharing systems, one hacker even added new machine instructions armed only with a soldering iron. Don't try this at home folks.

    Leaving the East Coast, Levy surveys the early West Coast computer scene, including computer hardware hackers such as Steve Wozniak, father of the Apple II, and this leads on to the third wave of hackers, the games writers. It's at this point in the story that big business arives on the scene. Some hackers made the transition successfully, others didn't. I was not surprised to find one of the earliest and most obnoxious "breadheads" of the original home computer scene in this book to be none other than Bill Gates. As far as I can tell from this book, he was always in it for the money. Yeah you're rich Bill, and I'm not, but people just don't like you OR your company, ok?

    Having completed a thorough survey of a period of decades in the computer industry, Levy then justifiably stopped and published the book. My edition however is a reissue, and Levy has added an afterword, "The Last Hacker" where he returns to MIT just in time to witness the destruction of the Hackers Citadel by commercial greed.

    In this final chapter, Levy is really in his element as he relates the story of the last lone defender on the ramparts, single-handedly holding back the dark barbarian hordes. The defender knew it was a lost cause, but was determined to make his point, and only gave up after exacting fearsome retribution when he had decided to abandon anger and revenge and instead found a new city which would, this time, have unbreachable defences. The name of the lone defender? Richard Stallman. The new project? The GNU project - the same project that produced the text editor I wrote this review with (Emacs), that facilitated this operating system (Linux) and that is still going strong this very day, thus the book takes us right to the present day - Hackers are alive and well and living near you :-) Highly Recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A must read for a Computer History buff
    If you saw Robert X Cringeley's "Triumph Of The Nerds" on PBS, this book pre-dates it by *years* Many of the people RXC mentions are here in the book. This book's a wild and wooly romp through the little-known side of the True History of computers and the unsung heroes who, only for the glory of solving a problem or impressing their friends brought us to the revolution/evolution of the Personal Computer. I got this when it was first published in hardcover and have long since lost the dust jacket and have read it countless times.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Required reading for computer programmers
    Hackers, by Steven Levy, should be required reading for anyone who programs computers for a living. Starting from the late 1950s, when the first hackers wrote code for the TX-0 and every instruction counted, to the early 1980s, when computers fully entered the consumer mainstream, and it was marketing rather than hacking which mattered. Levy divides this time into three eras: that of the 'True Hackers,' who lived in the AI lab at MIT and spent most of their time on the PDP series, the 'Hardware Hackers,' mostly situated in Silicon Valley and responsible for enhancing the Altair and creating the Apple, and the 'Game Hackers,' who were also centered in California; expert at getting the most out of computer hardware, they were also the first to make gobs and gobs of money hacking.

    The reason everyone who codes should read this book is to gain a sense of history. Because the field changes so quickly, it's easy to forget that there is a history, and, as Santayana said, "Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it." It's also very humbling, at least for me, to see what kind of shenanigans were undertaken to get the last bit of performance from a piece of hardware that was amazing for its time, but now would be junked without a thought. And a third takeaway was the transformation that the game industry went through in the early 80s: first you needed technical brilliance, because the hardware was slow and new techniques needed to be discovered. However, at some point, the hard work was all done, and the business types took over. To me, this corresponds to the 1997-2001 time period, with the web rather than games being the focus.

    That's one of my beefs--the version I read was written in 1983, and republished, with a new afterword in 1993. So, there's no mention of the new '4th generation' of hackers, who didn't have the close knit communities of the Homebrew Computer Club or the AI lab, but did have a far flung, global fellowship via email and newsgroups. It would be a fascinating read.

    Beyond the dated nature of the book, Levy omits several developments that I think were fundamental to the development of the hacker mindset. There's only one mention of Unix in the entire book, and no mention of C. In fact, the only languages he mentions are lisp, basic and assembly. No smalltalk, and no C. I also feel that he overemphasizes 'hacking' as a way that folks viewed and interacted with the world, without defining it. For instance, he talks about Ken Williams, founder of Sierra Online, 'hacking' the company, when it looked to me like it was simple mismanagement.

    For all that, it was a fantastic read. The more you identify with the geeky, single males who were in tune with the computer, the easier and more fun a read it will be, but I still think that everyone who uses a computer could benefit from reading Hackers, because of the increased understanding of the folks that we all depend on to create great software.

    1-0 out of 5 stars VERY BORING!
    I could barely stand reading this book... it leads to nowhere. It jumps around to different topics too quickly, and it's very hard to be be interested in. I couldn't finish the book, I literally fell asleep with the book in my hands. ... Read more

    17. Dealers of Lightning: Xerox Parc and the Dawn of the Computer Age
    by Michael Hiltzik
    list price: $26.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0887308910
    Catlog: Book (1999-04-01)
    Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
    Average Customer Review: 4.11 out of 5 stars
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    Throughout the '70s and '80s, Xerox Corporation provided unlimited funding to a renegade think tank called the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Occupying a ramshackle building adjacent to Stanford University, PARC's occupants would prove to be the greatest gathering of computer talent ever assembled: it conceptualized the very notion of the desktop computer, long before IBM launched its PC, and it laid the foundation for Microsoft Windows with a prototype graphical user interface of icons and layered screens. Even the technology that makes it possible for these words to appear on the screen can trace its roots to Xerox's eccentric band of innovators. But despite PARC's many industry-altering breakthroughs, Xerox failed ever to grasp the financial potential of such achievements. And while Xerox's inability to capitalize upon some of the world's most important technological advancements makes for an interesting enough story, Los Angeles Times correspondent Michael Hiltzik focuses instead on the inventions and the inventors themselves. We meet fiery ringleader Bob Taylor, a preacher's son from Texas known as much for his ego as for his uncanny leadership; we trace the term "personal computer" back to Alan Kay, a visionary who dreamed of a machine small enough to tuck under the arm; and we learn how PARC's farsighted principles led to collaborative brilliance. Hiltzik's consummate account of this burgeoning era won't improve Xerox's stake in the computer industry by much, but it should at least give credit where credit is due. Recommended.--Rob McDonald ... Read more

    Reviews (38)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story
    I read this book because it was mentioned in The New New Thing - a book about Jim Clark. What I found was a very well written story of PARC (Xerox's research centre in Palo Alto).

    The story is really set in the 1970s and 1980s when Xerox set up PARC really to support a newly acquired computer company SDS. What happened instead was that PARC itself outshone the acquired company and for a corporation that built up its name in the photocopier business, it caused many problems.

    Hiltzik is a master at capturing the mood and feel. He brings a multitude of characters to life in bite sized chapers. (The book has almost 450 pages but the chapters are about 8-12 pages long making it easy to pick up and immerse yourself in a piece of history.)

    What I found astounding was the level of technology reached in PARC. This is well documented in this book. You have Douglas Englebart who used research and ideas raised in the 1940s as a blueprint for interactive hardware and software aimed at manipulating text and video images (he was the "inventor" of the mouse). You have explanations of the floating point function (which caused Intel so many problemns with its Pentium chip). You have descriptions of culture shaping events such as Bob Taylor's "Beat the Dealer" where his people would spend an hour or so explaining their research and then were let loose to the erudite audience "like a rank steak to a pack of hungry wolves." You even have the origins of Ethernet and TCP/IP documented here.

    This is a very detailed book but unlike say "competing on Internet Time" it is much more like a story with real characters and real-life issues. It reads as well as a Southwick book but with much more to say.

    It is amazing what PARC produced using a bunch of the best people around, and it is the characterisation of these very talented people which made me enjoy the book so much. Hiltizk masterfully adds an epilogue that goes some way to trash the view that Xerox must have been just plain stupid to let all this technology go. A very thoughtful and broadminded ending to a superb book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A gripping tale about historic computing research.
    If you read only one book about research management, researchers, or computing research this year, this is the one to read.

    Dealers of Lightning is the story of the seminal first 13 years of Xerox's famed Palo Alto Research Center, a period in which PARC developed laser printers, the ethernet, internets, networked personal computers, the client-server model, bitmap displays, icons and graphical user interfaces, the desktop metaphor and overlapping windows, and various other foundations of the computing world as we know it today. But this is not primarily a book about technology -- it is about the people who generated it: How they were brought together, how they interacted, and finally, how they dispersed.

    Michael Hiltzik is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and he has clearly done his homework. He seems to have talked to all the major (and many of the minor) figures involved, read everything that has been written on the subject, and understood most of it. There are ample footnotes, source citations, glossary, and acknowledgements. Some of his accounts are as close to definitive as we are ever likely to see. For example, his story of the famous demos for Steve Jobs that had such an influence on the Lisa and the Macintosh (while recognizing that participants recollections conflict) has more information about them than I was able to gather while at PARC.

    As an "unindicted co-conspirator," neither interviewed by Hiltzik, nor mentioned by name (although I was close to the epicenter for the last half of the book's time span), I have both inside information and personal biases. I spotted a few small factual errors, and in some cases my interpretation of events is different than Hiltzik's. Nevertheless, he has done an amazingly good job of capturing the gist. This book is more complete, more accurate, and more nuanced than Smith and Alexander's Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, then Ignored, the First Personal Computer.

    Hiltzik is an excellent writer, and the book is a page-turner (even when you know how it ends). The plot is gripping; the cast of characters large and interesting. Parts of the book are too incredible to be published as fiction. I stayed up well past my bedtime three different nights, repeatedly promising myself I'd read "just one more chapter."

    My main complaint is that the book is so crowded with people and events that almost all the characters come out one-dimensional, often associated with a single recurring tag phrase. Bob Taylor at least gets a two-dimensional treatment, but it is too often through the eyes of his (numerous) enemies; the admiration and loyalty he inspired in many others is frequently remarked on, but never explained.

    The book is littered with insights about research and technology transfer -- both from the characters in the book and from Hiltzik. There are stimulating comments on what worked, and what did not, and why. Of course, I don't agree with all of them, but formulating convincing counter-arguments can be quite challenging and instructive.

    I particularly recommend the Epilogue, "Did Xerox Blow It?" Unfortunately, it really needs to be read in the context of the entire book. I first tried reading it out of order, and it didn't have the same force.

    Hiltzik discusses fairly even-handedly Steve Jobs's claim that "Xerox could have owned the entire computer industry today. Could have been, you know, a company ten times its size. Could have been IBM--could have been the IBM of the nineties. Could have been the Microsoft of the nineties." After weighing the pros and cons, Hiltzik concludes that it's not clear that Xerox could have ridden the tiger to that kind of success -- even if it had avoided all its known blunders.

    Hiltzik also points out that laser printing alone repaid the cost of PARC many times over, and that no company can expect to exploit every worthwhile thing that comes out of a research laboratory.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
    As someone who has been working in the IT field some time and a keen student of history, I approached this book with some anticipation and curiosity. I am happy to report that not only was the "story" interesting but also very enlightening. The focus of this book is a historical account of the legendary Xerox technology centre called PARC and the people who worked there. The author has done a remarkable job in making the events of interest to the reader but also take you literally inside the organisation and the thought processes driving all manner of decisions.

    The story is at once inspring and tragic. Inspiring in that the centre produced some of the most incredible advances in the computing sciences ever seen, but tragic in that many of those advances never saw the light of day (at least not with a Xerox badge on them). Several things come across when reading the book: the collection of people working in the facility were of an extremely high calibre and some of the sharpest minds of the day, they also possessed (in many cases) collossal egos to go with their staggering intellect, Xerox in many cases had neither the foresight nor the wherewithal to bring these great ideas to market and that the inventions coming out of PARC were perhaps too far ahead of their time to be practical in the "real world".

    In the end, as in many organisations, internal politics and ego/hubris brought down this fine institution from what it was to what it is today. I guess that was to be expected with the cast of characters involved and the inability of Xerox to understand their work. As an aside, I think the author handled the question of "did Xerox blow it" very fairly and comes across as surprisingly sympathetic to the company. I think this is reasonable, as it's very easy to be wise after the event. I think many other organisations may have acted the same way when confronted with the economic realities of the time coupled with this bleeding edge technology.

    In all, I would recommend "Dealers of Lightning" to anyone curious about the history of computer science or technology in general.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely Good Book about Computer R&D
    I do not know why this book was never more popular. It is a great read and has lots of detail on the evolution of computer R&D.

    It is a very well written and detailed book about the computer R&D from Boston-Washington to Palo Alto at HP - written like a smooth flowing novel. It is mainly about Xerox and the research people and how they eventually decided to move the computer R&D to California. But it includes a lot more stuff. It Includes DARPA funding of the internet and work at MIT, and in house fighting at Xerox, and then the evolution of the projects in California. Xerox did not run with the ball in an effective way post 1980 but the technology and people went on to other companies such as Microsoft, Apple, and HP. Also there was a lot of innovative work that was transferred to industry.

    It gives a lot of insight into the evolution of computer systems and the internet and local networks and on and on. It covers the people - grad students, scientists, spin off companies, crazed computer types working all night - that are just as interesting as the wires and machines.

    Great book, one of the best ever Tech Books.

    Jack in Toronto

    4-0 out of 5 stars The history of PARC without the myth and bias
    Although the history of the ubiquitous computer is a short one, it has a mythology so extensive, it could have been developed over centuries. Some of the most unusual, imaginative, intelligent and powerful personalities in the history of the human race have been a part of its' development. One of the most pervasive myths is that Xerox could have become the most dominant company in the history of the world as a consequence of the leadership it could have had in computing. There is no doubt that the ideas that were developed in the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) were some of the most original and now most widely used. There will probably never again be such a concentration of the leading talent of a particular field in one place. Without question, they were also a strong-willed group, that led to natural personality conflicts, which no doubt would have led to dissolution of the group after a few years no matter what. Hiltzik is very pragmatic about this, understanding and explaining that this is typical of leading people in the computing field.
    While it is true that Xerox could have dominated the computer field had they been able to exploit all the ideas, the reality is that it was most likely impossible for any company to absorb all that was produced there. It is ironic that the problem was that the researchers were too productive for their parent company to handle. Once again, the author understands this very well, unlike others whose focus seems to be trying to make Xerox a laughingstock. Furthermore, these were the early days of computing and there were few that could truly see where the computing field was going. Nevertheless, the management of Xerox was hardly blameless, their level of cluelessness has to rank among the highest.
    What I liked best about the book were the last sections about the supposed conversion that Steve Jobs underwent when he was shown the technology being developed at PARC. The myth is that the basic ideas of the Macintosh were "stolen" from PARC when they were shown to Jobs and his engineering team during a tour. While it is true that Jobs was convinced, saying that the technology was taken from PARC does an enormous disservice to the engineering staff at Apple, who did their own research and development. The most that can be said is that what they saw at PARC convinced them that it could be done, but did little to show them how to do it.
    This is a fascinating book about a set of incredible people. If you were to make a list of all of the major ideas of computing, you would have to take some time before you could separate out those that did not undergo a large amount of their development at PARC. Bereft of the myth and biases, from this book you can learn what actually happened in that incredible place and at that unique time. ... Read more

    18. High Stakes, No Prisoners : A Winner's Tale of Greed and Glory in the Internet Wars
    by CHARLES FERGUSON, Charles H. Ferguson
    list price: $27.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0812931432
    Catlog: Book (1999-10-18)
    Publisher: Times Books
    Sales Rank: 291927
    Average Customer Review: 4.07 out of 5 stars
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    If you've ever gone out to lunch with a coworker and suddenly found yourself witness to a savage stream of unflattering assessments of bosses, wicked gossip, and the-emperor-has-no-clothes analysis of your industry, you'll know what it's like to read High Stakes, No Prisoners. Ferguson, an MIT Ph.D., started up a company called Vermeer Technologies in 1994, a rough time for startups in Silicon Valley. The country was coming out of a recession, the stock market was stagnant, and the Internet wasn't yet taken seriously by those with money to invest. Vermeer had a software program called FrontPage that only someone who understood the coming power of the Net could appreciate. Even in Silicon Valley, few were so prescient.

    Most of High Stakes is the story of Vermeer, from its startup to its sale to Microsoft. (Now bundled with Microsoft Office, FrontPage is used by more than 3 million people worldwide.) Along the way, Ferguson met the players in the Valley and formed strong opinions of them. He describes Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale as an egomaniac and technological dolt in way, way over his head. Oracle founder Larry Ellison is "severely warped." One of his best lines sums up Silicon Valley as a place where "one finds little evidence that the meek shall inherit the earth."

    But this isn't just the technological equivalent of WWF trash-talking. Ferguson is very tough on himself, too, and details his own shortcomings as a person and a businessman. Mostly, it's a gloves-off account of how things really get done in high technology today, as refreshingly honest and acerbic an account as you'll ever read. --Lou Schuler ... Read more

    Reviews (41)

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Authentic Silicon Valley Story
    Mr. Ferguson's book is the only narration I have so far encountered (including Mr. Michael Lewis' THE NEW NEW THING, Mr. Po Bronson's THE NUDIST ON THE LATE SHIFT, and Mr. Randall E. Stross' EBOYS) that may actually represent what goes on in the entrepreneur world, and it does so in a straightforward tone with a whole lot of humor- and some cynicism- thrown in, making the book an enjoyable read.

    What's amazing about this book is its age: although the book is from 1999, much of what Mr. Ferguson concludes about where the industry is headed has come true or is slowly being recognized by the mainstream line of thought (this is quite an accomplishment in case you do not understand the rarity of such occurrences). Mr. Ferguson actually understands the technology and business underlining his startup as well, and he isn't afraid to admit when his comprehension falls short. Ask any engineer- this personality attribute in leaders of the entrepreneur world is becoming increasingly uncommon, unfortunately.

    If you're looking for a book that is written by someone who has been there and has also stood the test of time in terms of holding its conclusions intact, this is it for the late 90s era. If you're looking for a book by an outsider who doesn't seem to understand what's really going on and that romanticizes Silicon Valley or Route 128, look for something else. I especially recommend this book to anyone who is frustrated with the herd mentality in the tech world and would like to read something that has a refreshing independence to its views.

    (Actually, on second thought, if you're looking for a book that humorously shoots itself in the foot with its free-wheeling conjectures and hasty exclamations prior to the stock market correction, check out those books I listed above).

    5-0 out of 5 stars High Stakes, No Prisoners : A Winner's Tale of Greed and Glo
    Charles H. Ferguson has written an astonishing book, which operates on many levels. As Bob Metcalf, Ethernet inventor and founder of 3COM noted in his book jacket blurb, ".... Every would-be Silicon Valley entrepreneur should read this book." Amen.

    With interest it is noted that Metcalf appears to be the only individual "brave enough" to contribute a book jacket blurb to this superb book. Hats off to Metcalf, and Ferguson, of course.

    Mr. Ferguson exposes the dirty dancing that takes place between many Venture Capital firms and their prey - unsophisticated Entrepreneurs with good ideas. If you're writing a Business Plan ... or about to ... if you're intrigued by the New Economy ... if you want to understand what really happened to Netscape ... if you want to stand back in awe and understand how Microsoft does it ... BUY THIS BOOK, and read it before you do anything else.

    Beyond merely brilliant, penetrating and scholarly analysis, Ferguson bravely exposes his deeper and darker nature, and by doing so allows the reader to believe ... certainly want to believe ... in the validity of the shocking material regarding sharp business practice. Ferguson is un-relenting in self-criticism. Beyond his self-reported arrogance, and without crocodile tears he strongly implies to the reader that his passion, arrogance, tenacity, whatever one wants to call it, is required for an Entrepreneur to succeed against sophisticated players. Yet, this reader became convinced that he cares deeply about people and society at large.

    Finally, his PhD in Political Science from MIT, and obvious continuing deep interest and research in all matters relating to telecommunications comes through powerfully in the final chapter. He goes directly to the heart of a systemic US and International problem as no one has done before in print. Ferguson clearly and carefully documents the fact that the local telecommunications companies - telephone and cable -- are not only denying all of us the power of high bandwidth in the digital age, but, in so doing are literally damaging the overall economy.

    Here again Mr. Ferguson names names, and shocking as it may be in terms of recent political events, Presidential candidate John McCain is shown to be a water carrier and clear beneficiary of the extraordinary, if not unprecedented Cartel that blocks all of us from having high bandwidth. Buy the book for this chapter alone - if you want your bandwidth.

    Arguably, the only thing missing from Mr. Ferguson's extremely well written book is a copy of the Business Plan he wrote to raise the original VC funding for Vermeer Technologies. On the other hand, if you allow Charles to invest in your startup, he'll probably share that work. "Six Stars"

    Ken Kappel

    5-0 out of 5 stars Straight shooter who did it right
    Charles Ferguson, an MIT PhD, was the founding CEO of Vermeer Technologies, a company that developed one of the first web design tools. Vermeer sold the company to Microsoft for a boatload of money and lived to tell the tale. It's a fasinating story of what its really like on the inside of a high-tech startup replete with politics, hard-ball negotiations and strange bedfellows. Ferguson may be arrogant, but he's smart and tells it like it is. Anyone thinking of building a startup should read this book.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Sometimes interesting narrative, but flawed analysis
    Charles Ferguson is smart. Charles Ferguson knows he's smart. But Charles Ferguson thinks he's smarter and more important than he really is, and this makes this otherwise interesting book sometimes painful to read.

    The chapters covering the formation through eventual acquisition of Vermeer Technologies are an interesting education in the ways of VCs and hi-tech startups in the mid 90's. However, the last three chapters of the book are pretty worthless. These contain Ferguson's analysis of the industry and predictions for the future, and suffer because of Ferguson's worldview that he and Vermeer were far more important to the industry than they actually were. Ferguson lacks an understanding of large IT operations, and it's unfortunately evident in these chapters.

    Ferguson's pronounced hostility towards certain actors in his book - including former subordinates - also makes for uncomfortable reading. Some things should simply be kept private.

    Buy the book if you want to learn about VCs and hi-tech startups early in the Internet era, and don't mind wading through Ferguson's ego eruptions. Otherwise, skip it.

    4-0 out of 5 stars insightful analysis of Microsoft v. Netscape plus bonuses
    I met Charles once or twice in and around MIT (he was a grad student in political science; I was/am in the engineering school). So I can vouch for the other reviewers' comments that Charles isn't Mr. Smooth. Nor do I give the book 4 stars because he seems likely to displace Seamus Heaney as a poet. But you'll never see a clearer explanation of how hired-gun CEOs can run a company into the ground. The bigger and most interesting example of this phenomenon covered in the book is Netscape. In ancient times it was believed that you had to train people for 5 or 10 years before they could assume significant management responsibility within a company. Jack Welch started at GE in 1961. He became CEO 20 years later. Steve Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980. He became CEO 20 years later. Venture capitalists are big believers in the idea that any random company can be lead by any random people with impressive resumes. But it doesn't seem to work in the software products business and Charles Ferguson explains why not.

    So it is true that the book could have been better written and better edited. But the ideas are worth the wade. ... Read more

    19. Demonstrating to Win
    by Robert Riefstahl
    list price: $21.99
    our price: $21.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0738859176
    Catlog: Book (2000-12-01)
    Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
    Sales Rank: 215223
    Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (10)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Most Practical Software Sales Book
    I just finished the book. After selling ERP software for the last five years I could really identify with the demo crimes.
    I told the president of my company that this is the most practicle software sales book I have read.
    I have already put several of your strategies into practice. Thanks!

    5-0 out of 5 stars The scenes you are about to read are TRUE!
    After 17 years in the business of selling and demonstrating complex software solutions, I have never found a better, more practical book about both the art and science of the demonstration!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Your demos are the best, but they can be better
    I found the way to do it much better. This book is really useful for my job: it helps me identify my own errors and to prepare my meetings with prospects much properly, not just "showing" but "solving". Read it !!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book! Buy it if You Are Not My Competitor!
    I found many of my own experiences mirrored by this book. I learned quite a lot from reading it. See our UNBIASED info
    on Business Software Selection at

    5-0 out of 5 stars Just Buy It
    If you sell software, buy this book and read it, chew it up and digest it. As the other reviews say, this book is practical. Not some ivory tower theory on how to sell, it tells you exactly what to do and not to do. The margins in my copy are filled with notes. The front and back covers have to do checklists of ideas that I thought of while reading that I want to put into practice. Selling software is like no other type of selling. This book is the seminal work on the subject. ... Read more

    20. Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything
    by Steven Levy
    list price: $16.00
    our price: $10.88
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0140291776
    Catlog: Book (2000-06-01)
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    Sales Rank: 117491
    Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The creation of the Mac in 1984 catapulted America into the digital millennium, captured a fanatic cult audience, and transformed the computer industry into an unprecedented mix of technology, economics, and show business. Now veteran technology writer and Newsweek senior editor Steven Levy zooms in on the great machine and the fortunes of the unique company responsible for its evolution. Loaded with anecdote and insight, and peppered with sharp commentary, Insanely Great is the definitive book on the most important computer ever made.It is a must-have for anyone curious about how we got to the interactive age.

    "Engaging . . . A delightful and timely book."--The New York Times Book Review

    "A holy scripture for loyal clickers of the mouse that may someday result in placement by digital Gideons in all motel rooms (virtual and actual) serving travelers on the information highway." --San Francisco Examiner
    ... Read more

    Reviews (37)

    4-0 out of 5 stars The Macintosh Evolution
    Insanely Great takes a look at how the Macintosh evolved from a garage with two hippies and a soldering iron into a multi billion dollar company. Unlike what the title suggests this book does not spend a whole lot of time talking about Steve Jobs. Instead, this book focuses on a part of Apple's history that is really, as far as I have seen, not very well documented. It discusses in detail the evolution of the Macintosh from the inside, talks to people directly involved with the project and really shows this part of the computer revolution from the inside out. For those of you who are PC users this book will help you understand the Mac way of thinking. Levy is a true Mac person but writes in a fairly unbiased manner. This book is a great read for anybody who enjoys the history of how computers became what they are, as well as all Mac users.

    4-0 out of 5 stars This book is O.K.
    Steven Levy's "Insanely Great" features the birth and triumph of the Macintosh personal computer. Levy approaches the history of Apple's Mac by using his own personal experience with the company. He also explains the story by explaining the many people who had contributed to the success of the the Mac. For people who want to know an easy to read story of the birth of the Mac this book is the book to read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I for "Internet"
    Once upon a time, a guy named Steve had a vision: to take IBM's place in the computer industry. Not by copying IBM's ideas as Michael Dell did. No. By innovating...
    Steve Jobs, a charismatic and driven individual, who wears the same outfit so he doesn't have to waste his time deciding what to wear, and who once was exiled from his own company, came back. Although many critics always thought of Jobs as an opportunistic individual, more than creative and visionary, and labeled him as a "One Hit Wonder" was able to make a "Come Back." This book tells the story of the first Mac, the one that only a few people knew about, and then, it takes you through a journey of one of the greatest companies ever founded: Apple, Inc. The story that almost wasn't told. After years of mismanagements and senior executives not understanding what Apple Computers was all about, Steve Jobs returned not just to save the company, but also to redirect where the company was headed. As many people said, "Apple was off track," and it was, it really was. However, Jobs' return not only brought blood back to Apple, but also put them on the black ink once again.
    Before picking up this book, ensure that you have enough time to read it all at once. You won't be able o put it down. If you are a Mac fan, or if you are just interested in knowing a bit more of what Apple has gone through, this book is for you.
    Enjoy it!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fast, furious, and full of excitement
    People who read this are in for an evening of excitement and fun. It's like a pulp fiction story for the silicon age.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Sould of a new Macintosh
    Steven Levy, author of Hackers, reprises his examination of the high-tech industry with a close-up on the making of the Macintosh. Levy retells the story of the Macintosh's genesis, its influence from research at Xerox PARC, the ill-fated Apple Lisa and finally its painful birth. This is not a classic business book and really doesn't cover the rise and fall of Apple or it's CEOs in any great detail. Instead this is a more intimate story of the people who helped make the Macintosh. If you liked "Soul of a New Machine" you'll love this book. ... Read more

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