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Reply 42 of 60, by seob

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I did a bookreview on digital retro. A very nice book.

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In this book the history and evolution of the home computer and some consoles is followed from the late 70s to early 90s to the final breakthrough of the IBM personal computer.
This is done using a lot of photo's of all angles of the featured computers, assisted with facts.
Each chapter is describing 1 of the total of 43 systems which are offered in this book.

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Every system is described using the same layout throughout the book.
The chapters contain the following topics:
- The history and development of the system
- Company history
- Specifications of the system, including processor, processor speed, memory details, and price at launch in the country of origin.
- Data with name of manufacturer, model name, launch date and country of origin.
- Brief summary of what happened next.
- Description of the available input / output ports.
- Facts

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The book starts with a introduction chapter, followed by a chapter with a brief history of the computer form transistor tube to the development of integrated circuits. The last chapter describes what happened next with the PC after the mid 90's.
The book has a very nice and clean layout, that is used throughout the book.
So this sounds like a perfect book? Of course not.
No book or website is perfect. What are the most notable downsides:
- The input / output ports are described randomly. Not from left to right or vice versa. 
If you're not familiar with the system there is no way of telling what description belongs to what port. In the summation the ports are nicely numbered. It would have been better if the numbering used for the summation had been used in the photo.
- Not all pictured systems are the systems described. Sometimes there is a different model from the model range shown as an example, instead of the system that is talked about in the chapter. Example: in the chapter about the Commodore Amiga 1000, a Amiga 500 is depicted.
- The following downside is debatable, but when discussing systems, I find some screenshots should be used to display the graphics capability of the system. The book focuses primarily on the evolution of the incompatible home computers to the IBM compatible computer. But because the graphics performance of the system is part of the items talked about, a provided screenshot would have been nice.

These flaws are not of such order that you shouldn't buy the book.
This book beautifully designed and fun to browse trough.
Overall a nice addition to you're bookshelf.

The following systems are featured:
MITS Altair 8800, Commodore PET 2001, Apple II, Atari VCS, Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80, Nascom-1, Sharp MZ-80K, Atari 400/800, Texas Instrumens TI-99/4, Mattel Intellivision, Tangerine Microtan 65, HP-85, Sinclair ZX80, Acorn Atom, Commodore VIC-20, Sinclair ZX81, Osborne 1, IBM PC, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Coleco Vision, GCE/MB Vectrex, Grundy Newbrain, Dragon 32, Jupiter ACE, Compaq Portable, Apple Lisa, Oric 1, Mattel Aquarius, Nintendo Famicom/NES, Acorn Electron, Sony MSX, Appel Macintosh, Sinclair QL, Amstrad CPC-464, IBM PC-AT, Tatung Einstein, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, Amstrad PCW, Sega Master System, Acorn Archimedes and the NeXT Cube.
ISBN 1-904705-39-1

Reply 44 of 60, by konc

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seob wrote:

I did a bookreview on digital retro. A very nice book.

Agree with everything you wrote, I'm happy seeing this book on my library. It's a weird kind of book though, I don't know if I can express this in English properly but I'll give it a go anyway: You know these catalogs/volumes illustrating designer constructions that architects use to "randomly" throw on their coffee tables? Well, anyone involved with old computers can drop this one on his coffee table 🤣

Reply 46 of 60, by Stiletto

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Indeed, "coffee-table books".

... and coffee-table books are the best.

... sometimes they're even coffee-tables. 😁
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KuDPfTfw6w
(Kramer, Seinfeld, 90's sitcom 😁 )

"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

Stiletto

Reply 47 of 60, by Standard Def Steve

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The Soul of a New Machine, by Tracy Kidder

P6 chip. Triple the speed of the Pentium.
Tualatin: PIII-S @ 1628 MHz | QDI Advance 12T | 2GB DDR-310 | 6800GT | X-Fi | 500GB HDD | 3DMark01: 14,059
Dothan: PM @ 2720 MHz | MSI Speedster FA4 | 2GB DDR2-544 | GTX-280 | X-Fi | 500GB SSD | 3DMark01: 42,148

Reply 48 of 60, by badmojo

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I'm nearing the end of 'Father, Son & Co.: My Life at IBM and Beyond', written by Thomas J. Watson Jr. The Snr Thomas built IBM, and Jr took over from him, so it's a good insight into the early days of big blue. We’re talking punchcards to early valve computer era.

In saying that though, Tom Jr comes across as an obnoxious privileged brat with daddy issues on top of his daddy issues and this is a memoir, so there’s plenty of non-IBM stuff that can feel like a grind. And he was completely non-technical, so it’s also very high level.

Anyway, he lived in interesting times and came from an influential family, so it’s not a bad tale all told.

Life? Don't talk to me about life.

Reply 49 of 60, by Lo Wang

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Concerning specifically the question on the title of the thread, that would be "TBUG Z-80 Monitor and Debugging Aid", purely for old time's sake.

"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" - Romans 10:9

Reply 50 of 60, by badmojo

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I’m half-way through ‘The Facebook Effect’ by David Kirkpatrick and am really enjoying it. The author is a long-time tech writer so it’s well written and he’s managing to stay objective and avoid focusing on the drama. I’ve never used Facebook but I have kids who will be asking to use social media soon, so I need to get on board and understand it. Facebook’s probably passé now but it seems like a good place to start – highly recommended if you’re interested in how the Zuck started out, and generally in the growth of the internet during that era (early to mid 2000’s).

Life? Don't talk to me about life.

Reply 51 of 60, by badmojo

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I’ve been dutifully working my way through a few books on the history of Australia but goodness me, it turns out that settling a country via penal colony is really awful for all involved – not least the original owners. So to perk myself up I’ve moved on to “Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation”. This book had generally good reviews, but several reviewers complained about the style of the writing, which – as the author makes no secret of – is an interpretation of events based on his research and interviews. So for example it contains dialogue that is completely made up by the author, based on the content of his interviews with the actual folks who did the talking. But it’s working for me – there are still large slabs of matter-of-fact “then X happened, then Y”, so it’s refreshing when a reconstructed scene puts you in the room and gives you a sense of the personalities involved.

Of course it would all be for naught if the author had the facts wrong but everything he’s describing is in line with the other books I’ve read on this era of video game history.

Recommended!

Life? Don't talk to me about life.

Reply 52 of 60, by badmojo

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‘Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation’ was a long book and quite biased towards Sega, but I loved it and was sad when it was over.

Next up I tried “Racing the beam” which is a detail look at the Atari 2600, but it was just too damn dry for my liking – great for those who are deeply interested in the 2600’s hardware I’m sure but I’m more interested in personal stories and general history. I took advantage of Amazon’s return policy and got my money back – I wish I’d thought of that with iWoz 😒

Now I’m reading ‘The Soul of a New Machine’ by Tracy Kidder, which follows a group of engineers at Data General as they develop ‘The Eagle’ – a 32 bit minicomputer in the late 70’s. As I started to read I became more and more convinced that I was reading the script to ‘Halt and catch fire’ – it seemed too compelling for non-fiction. But a quick google confirmed that it’s all factual, and was a major influence on the TV show (the book is better 😀).

Life? Don't talk to me about life.

Reply 53 of 60, by Stiletto

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badmojo wrote:

Now I’m reading ‘The Soul of a New Machine’ by Tracy Kidder, which follows a group of engineers at Data General as they develop ‘The Eagle’ – a 32 bit minicomputer in the late 70’s. As I started to read I became more and more convinced that I was reading the script to ‘Halt and catch fire’ – it seemed too compelling for non-fiction. But a quick google confirmed that it’s all factual, and was a major influence on the TV show (the book is better 😀).

Agreed.

I think you should read "The Cuckoo's Egg" by Cliff Stoll when you're done with "The Soul of a New Machine", I frequently followed re-reading one with the other back in the 90's when I discovered them. 😀

"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

Stiletto

Reply 55 of 60, by Rhuwyn

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🤣 I was just thinking he looked liked a Nerdy Micheal J Fox then moved onto the next reply and someone beat me t it.

badmojo wrote:

Cool! What look is Pete going for in that photo? Anxious Marty McFly?

Reply 56 of 60, by ElBrunzy

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when I must read something I get to download some abandonware magazine scan at http://www.abandonware-magazines.org/ I'm a french Canadian that enjoy the European humor big time !

Reply 57 of 60, by badmojo

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I took a break from computer related books for a while but have recently read 'In The Plex' by the legendary Steven Levy, which is an attempt at documenting the history of Google. The writing is excellent as you'd expect from Levy and it was very interesting all told, but I think both Steven and I were lagging towards the end of this massive tomb. There's just too much to cover so it started to feel like an endless dot point list towards the end; very little drama and insight into the personalities involved.

Now I'm reading 'The Everything Store' by Brad Stone - an excellent history of Amazon. It's likewise a lengthy book but I'm still fascinated at the 40% mark - a good balance of human interest and down and dirty facts about an amazing dot com success story (that came close to going down with the rest of 'em). I wanted to read this one because Amazon is coming to Australia soon from what I hear; should be interesting.

I bought it on Amazon.

Life? Don't talk to me about life.

Reply 58 of 60, by ratfink

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Finally got round to reading Masters of Doom that I bought years ago. Feels like a film script.

Similarly finally got round to Eduard Castranova's Virtual Worlds. Only about half way; fascinating for a WoW player to see the same issues in minds then as now [WoW had a few hundred thousand subscribers at the time] and that a lot of what I somewhat naively had thought must have been new in WoW had clearly been done before. Also the author [an economist] sort of makes predictions which haven't really come true, but that's only to be expected so no big deal.

Also read a couple of WoW novels/tie-ins lately; got to love the minor inconsistencies between sources,it's like reality 😜 ; but amazed at how a lot of the game story was in place around 2000. WoW also makes a bit more sense now, even minor things in-game.

Next up will be Outlaws of the Marsh, but that's not computer-related.