Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
Note: this is a really long and somewhat rambling review.
A few themes stick out, notably West coast vs East coast. No, seriously. The first section is all MIT hackers, the other two are west coast focused (hippie hackers and ...more
Additionally, there are enough cases of deep confusion about technical terms and famous events that I had to research any stories I was not already familiar with to see if the details were correct.
The writing is terrible, punctuated with ridiculous narrative commentary. For inst ...more
I find a lot of computer users look at the things like they're magic boxes, likely run by black magic and/or hamsters running in wheels; I confess to having moments where I've felt that way myself, but I'm trying to educate myself a bit more on how computers actually think and operate, and this book helped cement that understandin ...more
Really cool sketches of the hackers we know (or didn't) from early days at MIT up through the dawn of the personal computer. There were a few oddities (claiming brøderbund was Scandinavian for "brotherhood" (last I checked, Scandinavian wasn't a language...think maybe he meant Norwegian?), and that Bill Gates wrote DOS for the IBM PC (didn't he buy it from some guy for like $400?). The only other drawback for me was that some of the early chapters were a bit dull for me ...more
It's somewhat better-written than most of Levy's books (like the painful "In the Plex"), though it bears the same biases that his other work does. I don't know if it's a long-form journalist tendency, but Levy's books and articles all seem to be written as if they're telling The Whole Story, though they are heavily skewed by the people who were most willing to be interviewed extensively. Any writer h ...more
All things considered, not a useful book beyond the first 100-150 pages.
It's a bloated and repetitive book that focuses on a very specific area and drags it out as far as you can conceivably take it.
The author seems to think the people in the book are extraordinarily interesting, with their petty neuroses and self-centred immaturity, but unfortunately, they are ...not.
Do yourself a favour and watch the excellent films Pirates of Silicon Valley and Micromen instead, ...more
I've noted that other reviewers mentioned that Levy is biased for Apple. This may be true, and unfortunately, I can't do diligence on that. What I can say is ...more
1. True Hackers: The first known hackers at MIT AI Lab who played with the rudimentary hardware of the time and coded on punch cards. Includes Marvin Minsky, Greenblatt, Samson, Steve Russell, Stew Nelson and others. Except for Minsky, I hadn't even heard the other names before. The significant creations of this era include the Hacker Ethic, Lisp, Spacewar and LIFE.
2. Hardware Hacker...more
Note: There are a lot of players in this story, its history, so I'm not going to go into detail about the who's who that plays a part. Its probably pretty safe to say that if someone had some kind of major to moderate role during this time and was at MIT or at the companies that popped up later, then they are at least mentioned in here somewhere, at some point. It's also important to remember that this was written over twenty years ago so one has to keep ...more
This book provides an invaluable history of computing's development into something the modern day user might recognize. It is split into three sections that chronicle three distinct eras in the computer's devel ...more
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