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Om författaren

Tracy Kidder was educated at the University of Iowa and Harvard University. He served in the US Army in Vietnam. Kidder has garnered numerous literary awards including the Pulitzer Prize in General Non-Fiction and the National Book Award for General Nonfiction both in 1982. He has also been honored visa mer with the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, 1990 and the Christopher Award, 1990. His publications include numerous nonfiction articles and short fiction for The Atlantic and other periodicals. Non-Fiction books include The Road to Yuba City, Doubleday, 1974; The Soul of a New Machine, Atlantic Monthly-Little Brown, 1981 for which he won a Pulitzer and a National Book Award; House, Houghton Mifflin, 1985; Old Friends, Houghton Mifflin, 1993; Home Town, Random House, 1999; Mountains Beyond Mountains, Random House, 2003; My Detachment, Random House, 2005; Strength in What Remains, Random House, 2009. (Bowker Author Biography) visa färre
Foto taget av: By Bill O'Donnell - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Verk av Tracy Kidder

Associerade verk

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Allmänna fakta



Hold on to your hats, kids! We're taking a trip back to the late 70s, where there were more than 2 or 3 types of computer to choose between, but they cost half a million dollars and were the size of refrigerators. This book relates the development of a new computer at Data General, a highly successful manufacturer of the time, though forgotten today.

This is really one of those plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose things. While it is so much of its era - maybe the bronze age of the computer industry - so many things have barely changed. Seeing which things are identical and which are unrecognizable is one of the fascinating things about this extremely interesting book.

Having worked in the broad field of computing for 15 years, the processes of developing and delivering a technical project were at the same time familiar and alien to me. The speccing, creating, iterating, integrating, debugging are described very convincingly and were very recognizable. But the way those things were achieved - the equipment used, the amount of documentation, the way issues were tracked - was all very different to practices today (and for good reasons at the time). I would have enjoyed a bit more technical detail, but then I imagine that I'm a bit more technically proficient than the target audience.

The characters of the engineers, their goals, and the counter-intuitively dysfunctional ways of getting the most out of them is remarkably similar to what one might encounter in the field of computing today (to be honest, I'm only familiar with development on the software side, but I assume the same broadly hold true on the hardware side). This project tended to use much younger engineers than standard in the industry, and motivated them by giving them a high level of responsibility for their particular areas - which meant they felt that they had to work ridiculous hours. This was good for those involved, but also meant that the creation of the machine was much cheaper than it would have been with more experienced people working regular hours (that said, it also came with a higher risk of failure).

Additionally, the office politics of a large tech company are well depicted, and should be instantly recognisable to anyone who's ever worked in such an organisation.

The story of the creation of the machine has some strong parallels with Revolution in the Valley - about the develpoment of the first Mac (remarkably only about 5 years later). In both, the computer was thought of (at most) secondary importance within the companies building them. And both had a team of highly-motivated, young engineers driving them forward, with ridiculous workloads, and thriving on their "outsider" status. Data General's computer was not revolutionary like Apple's, but that is not really what this book is about. It is a fascinating insight into the inner workings of the computer industry - a field which affects all our lives and yet is somewhat opaque. It is remarkable both as a historical account, and also for how relevant it is today.
… (mer)
thisisstephenbetts | 51 andra recensioner | Nov 25, 2023 |
Having read 2 of Mr. Kidder's other books I was thrilled to see this new title. And as with the other books, it didn't disappoint. His books are always well researched, detailed and yet written in a way that does not feel scholarly. I can't wait to see what he will publish next.
yukon92 | 10 andra recensioner | Sep 23, 2023 |
The story of an architect building his own home, with a team of craftsmen he found to build it. If you are about to build a home, I would highly recommend this book, though I don't know how you'd go about finding the kind of craftsmen the author found.
jjbinkc | 19 andra recensioner | Aug 27, 2023 |
I read this many years ago, probably in the early 1980's (as I was working in the IT field it was very relevant). I became a Kidder fan, and have read several of his books since.
jjbinkc | 51 andra recensioner | Aug 27, 2023 |



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