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Open: How Compaq Ended IBM's PC Domination and Helped Invent Modern Computing

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  155 ratings  ·  16 reviews
The story of Compaq is well-known: Three ex-Texas Instruments managers founded Compaq with modest venture funding. Just four years later, Compaq was on the Fortune 500 list, and, two years after that, they had exceeded $1 billion in annual revenue. No company had ever achieved these milestones so rapidly.

But few know the story behind the story. In 1982, when Compaq was fou
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by BenBella Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the story of the first decade of Compaq, though the narrative goes from inception to eventual merger with HP. This is also the story of Compaq management, the group "Process" that they used to make decisions, with examples from key moments. It is a fairly quick read.

From their perspective, Compaq defined the business market that was originally "IBM compatible". Their dealer choices were very good, and as a company their performance and growth were stellar. A lot of success was gained fro
Husnain Bajwa
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Rod Canion could have easily written a self-absorbed personal memoir in the style of many great and former CEOs, but instead he wrote a fast-paced and deeply educational manual that should be required reading for any aspiring technology executive. Cover to cover, the book is packed with thoughtful ideas on competition, risk, capital management, engineering, sales, and marketing, but the central theme is always clear and in focus: industry standards and open architectures can promote fairer marke ...more
Kevin Doran
Aug 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Great story. A nice digestible length. Maybe just a little short, as the ending wrapped up a bit suddenly; the book covers the golden years and doesn’t really cover the decline, if you can call it that.

I didn’t feel like the writing style was good. The book is a blow by blow account that doesn’t really connect you with the people involved. The timeline gets a bit jumbled when the author tries to describe ideas that extend over a longer time period than current episode he is describing.

Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed Rod's account as this covered an era before my time in a fast paced and efficient read covering how Compaq shaped the computing industry we have today. As others have noted, this appears to cover the golden years of Compaq but it is a shame to learn (elsewhere) the difficulties they faced in later years. My only real knowledge of the company prior to this book was of Compaq being a budget brand under HP, all the more surprising to read how much Compaq achieved. ...more
Kurt Johnson
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book about the history of not only Compaq but of personal compters in the 1980s.
Ryan Knopp
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I didn't realize how much influence Compaq had early on in the computer industry. I also was surprised Microsoft had it's own Unix version for a while. ...more
Matthew Pavlichko
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent but short book. This is a nice companion piece to the Steve Jobs biography or, if you’re one of the few fans like me, to the TV show Halt and Catch Fire.
Troy Blackford
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thought I'd give this a whirl because I was interested in the story of how 'IBM-clone' or 'IBM-compatible' third-party PC's began. As I started it, I was a little apprehensive: for whatever reason, I didn't realize that it was written by one of the founders of Compaq, the first CEO, until I started. I worried I wouldn't get an unbiased description of what happened. I needn't have worried: Mr. Canion was in a much better position to describe the events and planning that took place in the histor ...more
Kaitlyn Concilio
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
An interesting if one-sided look at how the personal computer industry developed during the 80s. Canion's obviously knowledgable — as founder and CEO of Compaq, his company led the charge against IBM's various attempted machinations to control the computer industry. There's more than a bit of rose-tinted hue around this tome (literally only one "bad decision" is ever discussed, hesitantly at that, and ultimately turns into a big company-rousing win anyway), but it's an interesting part of comput ...more
Kevin Jennings
Oct 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting book about the birth of the PC clone era of computer. I found the author's style a bit stuffy but the information in it was worth it. The most interesting tidbit was that Compaq actually licensed back to Microsoft a versions of DOS that could be run on non IBM clones. Kind of crazy to think about it really. ...more
David Brown
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a fun read. I got to reminisce over history and gained new insights. Just remember that the telling was a bit self serving. But it was very inspiring. It made me start looking for the next Rod Canion, a visionary determined to change the world for the better.
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A quick but interesting read, and Compaq definitely led the personal computer revolution. I literally read the book in one sitting!
Craig Corbin
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent story about the early PC days....

I wish rod would write a post Windows 8 update. Would be interesting to hear his opinion on wether they got it right...
Oct 21, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a workable, engineer's account of how the PC architecture ended up open (public). He left out a few juicy details, such as the presence of Ken Lay on the Compaq board. ...more
Aug 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
Dull - should have guessed? :-)
Thomas Ryd
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Jan 28, 2020
Charles Delingpole
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Mar 19, 2018
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Stuart Golden
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“We have another problem. We don’t have much warehouse space. So if the dealers wait too long to start ordering, we won’t have a place to put the finished computers.” I ask, “Can we rent additional space somewhere?” Vieau answers, “We can try, and in the meantime we can store some in 18-wheeler trailers.” And store them in trailers we did. Before we were through, there were almost twenty trailers parked in various locations around Houston.” 0 likes
“Some of the incompatibilities could not be corrected without Microsoft’s help. When we asked Microsoft to fix those incompatibilities for which we didn’t have the source code, we feared that our request would be turned down or at least acted on slowly because of their relationship with IBM. We learned, however, that Microsoft was happy to work with us and have our help in identifying problems and verifying fixes.” 0 likes
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