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Revolution in the Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made

Revolution in the Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made

4.5 6
by Andy Hertzfeld

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There was a time, not too long ago, when the typewriter and notebook ruled, and the computer as an everyday tool was simply a vision. Revolution in the Valley traces this vision back to its earliest roots: the hallways and backrooms of Apple, where the groundbreaking Macintosh computer was born. The book traces the development of the Macintosh, from its inception


There was a time, not too long ago, when the typewriter and notebook ruled, and the computer as an everyday tool was simply a vision. Revolution in the Valley traces this vision back to its earliest roots: the hallways and backrooms of Apple, where the groundbreaking Macintosh computer was born. The book traces the development of the Macintosh, from its inception as an underground skunkworks project in 1979 to its triumphant introduction in 1984 and beyond.

The stories in Revolution in the Valley come on extremely good authority. That's because author Andy Hertzfeld was a core member of the team that built the Macintosh system software, and a key creator of the Mac's radically new user interface software. One of the chosen few who worked with the mercurial Steve Jobs, you might call him the ultimate insider.

When Revolution in the Valley begins, Hertzfeld is working on Apple's first attempt at a low-cost, consumer-oriented computer: the Apple II. He sees that Steve Jobs is luring some of the company's most brilliant innovators to work on a tiny research effort the Macintosh. Hertzfeld manages to make his way onto the Macintosh research team, and the rest is history.

Through lavish illustrations, period photos, and Hertzfeld's vivid first-hand accounts, Revolution in the Valley reveals what it was like to be there at the birth of the personal computer revolution. The story comes to life through the book's portrait of the talented and often eccentric characters who made up the Macintosh team. Now, over 20 years later, millions of people are benefiting from the technical achievements of this determined and brilliant group of people.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
It’s easy to forget how much the Macintosh transformed computing, at the very moment when computing was transforming the world. Andy Hertzfeld was there, as one of the Mac’s first design team members. And he kept notes -- along, apparently, with every scrap of paper, stray floppy disk, and Nerf ball from those heady days. Hertzfeld’s Revolution in the Valley captures this unique place and time brilliantly: Apple and Silicon Valley in the early 1980s, before hackers became clichés and venture capitalists swarmed the land like locusts.

Read it as technical history (how MacPaint evolved, how the original Mac’s chip design came about); or as gossip (what Bill Gates said when accused of ripping off the Mac, why Steve Jobs parks in the handicapped spot); or as cultural history; or as all three. However you read it, you won’t be able to stop. Bill Camarda, from the February 2005 Read Only

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O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
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Meet the Author

Andy Hertzfeld was a graduate student in computer science at UC Berkeley in January 1978 when he purchased one of the first Apple IIs.He quickly lost interest in grad school as he began writing programs for his Apple II, eventually leading him to join Apple Computer as a systems programmer in August 1979. He joined the Macintosh team in February 1981, and became one of the main authors of the Macintosh system software, including the User Interface Toolbox and many of the original desk accessories. He left Apple in March 1984, and went on to co-found three companies: Radius (1986), General Magic (1990) and Eazel (1999). In 2003, he developed web-based software for collective storytelling that he used to write the stories in this book. In 2005, he joined Google, and was one of the main creators of Google+.

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4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Tunguz More than 1 year ago
Macintosh computer is the most iconic computer of all time, and probably one of the most significant consumer electronics products ever. The successors of the original Macintosh have remained aspirational products ever since, and Mac fans are oftentimes known for their cult-like admiration for their computers. One name that immediately comes to mind when Mac is mentioned is that of Steve Jobs, Apple cofounder and a mercurial and controversial visionary that has shaped Apple products for the most of company's history. However, Jobs is a strange bird - a head of a technology company without any concrete technological skills. The bulk of the work on the original Apple computer was done by the other company cofounder (Steve Wozniak) and the team that actually built Mac was composed of largely unknown engineers and technicians who worked on the computer over many years with the utmost passion and dedication. This book is a tribute to that creative and dedicated team. It is written in a form of many anecdotes of crucial events and developments in the process of creating the first Mac. Most of the stories are told from the point of view of Andy Hertzfeld, but there are numerous contributions by other team members as well. The book is filled with images of old hand-written designing notes, pictures of the team members, various Polaroid screen-shots of the development of Mac's GUI, and many, many more moments that elicit a form of nostalgia for those early days of the computer industry. The whole book is in fact a tribute to those more innocent days when idealism was a much more potent motivator than money and stock options. It also paints a picture of Silicon Valley when it was possible for young fresh-out-of-college engineers to find meaningful work and live in places like Palo Alto. Whether you are a Mac fan or someone with a curiosity about the first-hand accounts of the early personal computer industry, you will find a lot in this book to keep you interested. It's a homage to the real nerd inside of all of us.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is THE book for every Mac aficionado! Walk with those who were there through the birth of a truly historical product. This is a nicely designed hardback that fits well in the hand, is filled with wonderful photos and anecdotes from those most involved from the earliest days of the Macintosh. I have found most fascinating the copies of actual hand-written notes from the earliest brainstorming meetings, complete with corrections and revealing marginal comments. I will definitely keep this where I can thumb through it while on hold or wanting some entertaining distraction ¿ and where it will be seen by my PeeCee buddies!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, written by one of the members of the team that created the first Macintosh is at times a tale of intrigue, passion, hard work, long hours, junk food, and lots of creativity. It also shows how this group put together a computer that changed the history of the high tech field and how even now some 20 years later, the effects of this change can still be felt. Not only is the story told by the author, but numerous sidebars illustrate anecdotes about the 'movers and shakers' of the Macintosh's creation..from the engineers and designers to upper management, as well as the inevitable clashes between all of them. One thing that comes through at all times is how committed everyone was to seeing the Mac through to creation. The famous '1984' commercial is also discussed at some length and how it almost never was shown during the Super Bowl broadcast, due to some Apple execs expressing their disapproval of it at a preview showing. The commercial was also shown late one night on a TV station in Idaho so it would be eligible to receive an award as best commercial of the year. And speaking of passion, Steve Jobs is shown at times in this book to be a visionary, a hard worker, a clod, and most of all a man driven to put the best computer of its time on the market. Clearly he and the Macintosh design team succeeded in doing so. For any Macintosh or computer history buffs, this is a book well worth having.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hertzfeld gives us a set of vignettes into the people who made the Mac. From 1979 to 1985, we get anecdotes of the development process and the personalities [especially Steve Jobs], from several of the core Mac team. Being very episodic, the book suffers from an overall drift. As a standalone book, with little other information on the Mac, the disjointedness of the narrative leaves little context. The book is best read if you are already have some knowledge of the history of Apple. Enhanced perhaps by having used the Apple 2 or the Mac itself, and even to have seen the 1984 commercial. Some portions of the text are best appreciated only by programmers, who can get some sense of the ingenuity of the team. For other readers, you should not worry about the obscurity of those sections. [You'll certainly know which they are, when you meet them.] Try reading the book after going through other books on Apple that give a better and larger picture of the company.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Interesting anecdotes in a series of short stories about the development of the MAC. Beautiful graphics and very well written.