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Revolution in the Valley

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Revolution In The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How The Mac Was Made
By Andy Hertzfeld
Published by O’Reilly Media

For those with a keen interest in the history of the Macintosh, this is the book for you. As soon as I bought it, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. That hasn’t happened to me since the last Guy Kawasaki book I read, Rules for Revolutionaries. Andy’s style makes for easy reading and the story is mostly told in first person. Included are many short stories from other members of the Mac development team. Through these stories you learn about the people, their personalities, and the common goal that all of them had – make the best, most user-friendly, computer imaginable.

Revolution in the Valley - Cover

Andy started at Apple in August 1979 as Apple employee #435. He was one of the main authors of the Macintosh system software, working on the core operating system and the User Interface toolbox as well as most of the original desk accessories. He later went on to co-found three companies: Radius (1986), General Magic (1990) and Eazel (1999).

Many of the illustrations are from Andy’s original notes. These provide a small insight into the planning and design execution of the Mac. When Andy started writing this book, he was given access to the Apple film and photo archive, so many of the pictures included are ones that have never been published.

One of my favorite parts is a story about Bill Atkinson, the principal programmer of Quick Draw. Bill had been working with the Lisa Development Team when the software manager decided that everyone needed to fill out a weekly evaluation form that included how many lines of code each had written. As Bill had just finished optimizing Quick Draw and being kind of anti-authoritarian, he entered minus 2000. His point was that a good programmer creates small, compact, concise code that cannot be graded on the total lines that were written. This leads to sloppy, bloated programming. Needless to say, the evaluation forms were soon dropped.

Andy maintains a website called Folklore where most of the anecdotes in the book came from. These can be found at http://folklore.org and is well worth a visit.

User group members can order this book direct from O’Reilly with a 20% discount. Use code DSUG.

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