Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Accidental Empires: How The Boys Of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, And Still Can't Get A Date By Robert X Cringely

Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date

Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date
By Robert X Cringely

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(79 customer reviews)

Product Description

Ultimate insider Robert Cringely, who was there at the beginning in Palo Alto's Homebrew Computer Club, steps back to relate the whole story of junkfood genius, nerdy naivete, and pencil-necks triumphant. Offering gory details of fortunes won and lost, this is the story not just of how the personal computer industry really works, but why it works, and how to keep it working.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1550121 in Books
  • Published on: 1992-02
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Unknown Binding
  • 324 pages
Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review
Robert X. Cringely manages to capture the contradictions and everyday insanity of computer industry empire building, while at the same time chipping away sardonically at the PR campaigns that have built up some very common businesspeople into the household gods of geekdom. Despite some chuckles at the expense of all things nerdy, white, and male in the computer industry, Cringely somehow manages to balance the humor with a genuine appreciation of both the technical and strategic accomplishments of these industry luminaries. Whether you're a hard-boiled Silicon Valley marketing exec fishing for an IPO or just a plain old reader with an interest in business history and anecdotal storytelling, there's something to enjoy here.

From Publishers Weekly
Rich in relevant, entertaining digressions, this breezy but informative history recounts how gifted, maverick "nerds," "hippies" and entrepreneurs like Apple's Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs invented and developed microprocessors and operating systems into today's volatile, ego-driven, highly competitive personal computer industry, in which ever-changing technical standards propel the market. Info World columnist Cringley charges that the astronomical sales of PCs ($70-billion worldwide in 1990) "both created the longest continuous peacetime economic expansion in U.S. history and ended it." While current dominance by IBM spurs competitors to further research and networking, the author predicts that by the year 2000 single chips will render today's PCs obsolete and that of American technology only software will survive.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
Readers of the computer industry journal Info World will recognize Cringely as the weekly columnist who openly solicits industry secrets from readers. Here, he offers an irreverent explanation (he says it's harder to be an explainer than a historian) of the computer culture together with an informative chronology of the major computer companies and the personalities that have shaped the industry. His informal insights presented in a characteristically wry manner will make this a popular book for a wide audience.
- Joseph Barth, U.S. Military Acad. Lib., West Point, N.Y.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful.
5Great book, even if you're not a nerd!
By A Customer
If you're interested in the birth and growth of the PC industry this is your guide!

After I saw the TV series I wanted to have the book, I even mailed Bob Cringely for the ISBN. A book like this could be a rather dull book, but this isn't one of those. This is a great book full of facts served with plenty of humour. Cringely was there when it happened, he knows what he's writing about. This book tells you about never released software, missed opportunities, killer applications, where the GUI came from, and much more in a language that isn't just for nerds.

I've read this book twice, I'm pretty sure I'll read it again...

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful.
3Interesting content but Cringely's attitude makes me cringe
By Ellen Isaacs
As someone who's been working in Silicon Valley for years, I found this book interesting for its insight into the history of the computer business and the strong personalities who created it. It focuses on the early giants of IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Compaq, and the like, well before the Internet became a popular medium. The book highlighted for me how much an industry is shaped by the people and their peculiarities, and how the culture of an organization shapes its perception of and reaction to events.

Still, Cringley's smug, know-it-all attitude detracted from the book and made me question the credibility of his analysis. He paints people in black and white strokes, often portraying the object of his ridicule as blind to the obviously correct course of action. Cringely is especially harsh on people he perceives as ego-driven and insecure, which, ironically, is just how he struck me.

I suspect people who are not particularly tied into the computer culture won't find this worth reading. But if you are among those hooked on the computer industry and you can get past Cringely's attitude, the book has some useful insights, anecdotes, and facts.

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful.
5History of Computing for People Like Us
By Walter Nicolau
Accidental Empires is the suggestive title of a journey into the story of computing starting from its humble beginnings during the early seventies and ending just before the Internet revolution. It is by all means a fascinating account of the people and events that shaped the marketplace and gave it a direction and turned it into a multibillion industry. I still find it hard to believe that the first computer available on the market came in unassembled parts and the user had to put it together and the end product had no harddrive, no OS, and no applications to run. And this happened only 25 years ago...

As a journalist for Infoworld, Cringely leads us with a firm hand and clear passion for disentangling the intricate dependencies and relationships that reign in the computing industry. His book is a well informed account of the evolution of operating systems, hardware, networking, and print technologies starting from the day these were just wild ideas. Although the lecture may sound a little too technical and hence a bit complicated, this book is easy to follow. Through Cringely's talent we get a (funny but very plausible) portrait of the people, their desires, shortcommings, and in most cases genius and totally obsessive personalities.

Apart for the obvious animosity that the author nurtures towards Gates and Jobs whom he claims to be to various degrees true sociopaths, one with ambition to dominate the world, the other one to be accepted and loved, I find the whole overview to be an objective and informative account of the fascinating and tumultuous evolution of computing as we know today. Overall, Cringely argues that despite the incredible brainpower, no founding geek was ever capable of truly assessing the enormous impact the creation of personal computing, a user friendly OS, and networking technologies would have on our world and their pockets (this is to confirm that one can excel in many things but not all things). At the same time, it is simply stupefying to read about the incredibly ill advised strategic decisions that established companies, such as IBM and Xerox, made. For more info on the 200 billion dollars misstake, turn to the IBM files.
Along with The Sillicon Boys, this is the best book on the history of computing for the layman I've read so far, I don't hesitate to give it five stars.



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