Revolution in the Valley

The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made
Andy Hertzfeld’s insider’s tale of the birth of the Mac.
There have always been specific periods when, because of a set of circumstances perhaps only apparent in hindsight, individuals can make a change to the established order, for good or ill.

The period from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s was one of these for the computer industry. In about 5-7 years, a fantastic range of technologies became accessible. Perhaps the one with the most lasting impact was the nearly universal adoption of the graphical user interface. While Microsoft eventually brought it to the world, without the Macintosh’s elegant example, it’s difficult to imagine what the dominant user interface would look like today. This book is a collection of stories from some of the people who were there.

As an aside, If the title sounds familiar, this book was initially published in 2005 as a hardcover book, this is the 2011 softcover edition by O’Reilly, and I didn’t see any notes on differences between the two. Also, I’m reading this book along with Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, and I’d recommend doing the same. While Revolution is specifically about the Mac and filled with a lot more details about the period when it was being developed, Isaacson’s book is less-technical and but much broader covering Jobs’ whole life and fills in a lot of the gaps about what was happening in the background. In contrast, the Mac was being developed, before and after.

So what does this book offer readers? Well remember that a lot of the Mac’s impact on computing was that it was the first (successful) computer with a graphical user interface, so a lot of this book is about the whole creation of the interface, it’s influences and the way it evolved; there are some fascinating screenshots of early versions and some great stories and photos, as well as things that didn’t work out. If you’ve got a Mac user on your holiday list, this is probably a book they’d enjoy.

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