I have been a fan of Robert X. Cringely for a long time. Back in the day I used Bob's Nerds 2.0.1 PBS documentary to train new hires on the basics and history of the Internet. While I am not big enough of a fan to know what the X. is all about I must admit much of my writing style is a poor man's knock off of Mr. Cringely.
If Nerds 2.0.1 was back in the day, Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date is back in the yesterday. It was written in 1992. But nearly 20 years later remains an entertaining and insightful read about the birth of the personal computer industry.
The chapter entitled "The Prophet" is worth the price of admission. The prophet is Steve Jobs and what Cringely writes is prophetic.
Steve Jobs sees the personal computer as his tool for changing the world. I know it sounds a lot like Bill Gates, but it's really very different. Gates see the personal computer as a tool for transferring every stray dollar, deutsche mark, and kopeckin in the world into his pocket. Gates doesn't really give a damn how people interact with computers as long as they pay up. Jobs gives a damn. He wants to tell the world how to compute, to set the style for computing.
Pretty spot on.
Some of the passages in the book are clearly timeless in the land of the geeks.
People who actually rely on computers in their work won't tolerate being more than one hardware generation behind the leading edge.
And this one could be ripped from many articles on impending IPOs today.
Companies don't go public to raise money; they go public to make real the wealth of their founders.
Accidential Empires is both an enjoyable and must read for anyone that cares about computing.