There was a time, not too long ago, when the typewriter and notebook ruled, and the computer as an everyday tool was simply a vision. Revolution in the Valley traces this vision back to its earliest roots: the hallways and backrooms of Apple, where the groundbreaking Macintosh computer was born. The book traces the development of the Macintosh, from its inception as an underground skunkworks project in 1979 to its triumphant introduction in 1984 and beyond.
The stories in Revolution in the Valley come on extremely good authority. That's because author Andy Hertzfeld was a core member of the team that built the Macintosh system software, and a key creator of the Mac's radically new user interface software. One of the chosen few who worked with the mercurial Steve Jobs, you might call him the ultimate insider.
When Revolution in the Valley begins, Hertzfeld is working on Apple's first attempt at a low-cost, consumer-oriented computer: the Apple II. He sees that Steve Jobs is luring some of the company's most brilliant innovators to work on a tiny research effort the Macintosh. Hertzfeld manages to make his way onto the Macintosh research team, and the rest is history.
Through lavish illustrations, period photos, and Hertzfeld's vivid first-hand accounts, Revolution in the Valley reveals what it was like to be there at the birth of the personal computer revolution. The story comes to life through the book's portrait of the talented and often eccentric characters who made up the Macintosh team. Now, over 20 years later, millions of people are benefiting from the technical achievements of this determined and brilliant group of people.
Another blog-turned-book (see Hertzfeld's www.folklore.org), this set of remembrances chronicles the birth of the Macintosh from inside the lab. In 1978, Hertzfeld's world was rocked by his purchase of an Apple II; by the next year, he was working for the fledgling company on the nascent Mac as a software engineer, co-writing the Mac's operating system. Strictly for Silicon Valley-folk and Apple obsessives, Hertzfeld's short entries dwell on everything from mouse-scaling parameters to the eating habits of hardware engineer Burrell Smith. A plethora of color photos feature early screen shots and sedentary-looking Mac team members in tight t-shirts ("User Friendly!") and large glasses. Even aficionados may find their attention wandering at sentences like, "The most controversial part of the Control Panel was the desktop pattern editor, which I had rescued from its earlier standalone incarnation." But among the 90 entries, highlights include awkward-looking early demos of the Mac's operating system; competition and idea-swapping with Microsoft, Osborne and Xerox; and inside glimpses of Apple's unique, before-the-boom culture. Hertzfeld's earnest enthusiasm for the work that he and the team began 25-plus years ago is infectious enough to carry one through the rest.