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What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counter culture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal ComputerIndustry
 
 

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counter culture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal ComputerIndustry [Kindle Edition]

John Markoff
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Kurzbeschreibung

Most histories of the personal computer industry focus on technology or business. John Markoff’s landmark book is about the culture and consciousness behind the first PCs—the culture being counter– and the consciousness expanded, sometimes chemically. It’s a brilliant evocation of Stanford, California, in the 1960s and ’70s, where a group of visionaries set out to turn computers into a means for freeing minds and information. In these pages one encounters Ken Kesey and the phone hacker Cap’n Crunch, est and LSD, The Whole Earth Catalog and the Homebrew Computer Lab. What the Dormouse Said is a poignant, funny, and inspiring book by one of the smartest technology writers around.



Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

John Markoff is a senior writer for The New York Times who has coauthored Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier and the bestselling Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, America’s Most Wanted Computer Outlaw.

Produktinformation

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 484 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 336 Seiten
  • Verlag: Penguin Books; Auflage: Reprint (21. April 2005)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B000OCXFYM
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.5 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #163.916 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Geschichte ist etwas schönes 4. Dezember 2008
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Wer sich für die Geschichte des PC interessiert und allem was drum herum in den USA in den 60ern passiert ist liegt mit diesem Buch vollkommen richtig.

Die "Erzählungen" in diesem Buch sind sehr lebhaft, so dass ich mir manchmal wünschte selbst in diesen Zeiten zu lesen.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Spannender Anfang der Computerära 30. August 2008
Von Raetion
Format:Taschenbuch
Das Buch erzählt die faszinierende Geschichte des Stanford Research Institute (SRI) und des Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL) von den 50er bis Anfang der 70er Jahre. Unter der Leitung von Doug Engelbart wurden am SRI die grundlegende Konzepte zur Bedienbarkeit von Computern erforscht und entwickelt. Dabei zeigt Markoff auf beeindruckende Weise auf, welche gesellschaftlichen und politischen Entwicklungen auf diese Wissenschaftler und Ingenieure Einfluss hatten, und wie sich dies auf ihre Arbeit und ihre Leben auswirkte. John McCarthy brachte vom MIT einen Teil seiner Forschungsgruppe zur künstlichen Intelligenz nach Stanford und gründete dort das Forschungszentrum SAIL. Dabei nahm er auch einen Teil der am MIT so lebendigen Gruppe der Hacker mit. Beide Institutionen, SRI und SAIL, boten ihren Mitarbeitern grosszügige Freiheiten und Möglichkeiten, die es zuliessen, dass in und um Stanford eine Brutstätte technologischer Kreativität und engagierter Auseinandersetzung mit den politisch-gesellschaftlichen Entwicklungen jener Zeit entstanden, die schliesslich einen wesentlichen Beitrag zum Aufstieg des Silicon Valley leisteten. Wer Steven Levy's Buch "Hackers" gelesen hat, kann in diesem Buch eine spannende Ergänzug finden.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen How LSD and Vietnam Helped Create the PC 28. April 2005
Von Steven McGeady - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Most histories of the personal computer begin with Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Apple in 1976, but while hanging out at SAIL in the mid 1970s, and at the First West Coast Computer Faire in 1977 I heard highly attenuated versions of the folklore that Markoff has only now, after nearly 30 years, run to ground. Conventional histories of the PC make passing reference to the MITS Altair (1974) before going on the talk about the Apple, the IBM PC (1981) and what followed. The more sophisticated would conspiratorially tell the story of how Steve Jobs "stole the idea" for the Macintosh from Xerox's fabled Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) as they were "fumbling the future", and nearly everyone knew that Bill Gates then stole the ideas from Apple.

But the truth of those half-heard folktales from my youth is that nearly every concept in the personal computer predates all of this, in a delightfully picaresque tale that starts in the late 1950s and weaves together computers, LSD, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the Vietnam War and dozens of characters.

John Markoff, veteran technology reporter for the New York Times, is the first to comprehensively tell this story in his new book What The Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry. Markoff, best known for Cyberpunk and Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, explodes the conventional notion that the PC replaced the mini-computer in the same way that the mini-computer replaced the mainframe -- by a sort of evolutionary selection within the computer business, by persistently investigating the roots of the PC its unsung pioneers, its user interface, and the culture of open-source software in the San Francisco drug and anti-war culture of the late 1950s and 1960s.

Markoff has painstakingly researched the men (and a few women) who populated the cutting edge of the computer revolution in 1960s San Francisco, capturing an oral history of the PC never before recorded. Central to "Dormouse" is the story of Doug Engelbart, the "tragic hero" of computing, and the man who invented -- and demonstrated -- virtually every aspect of modern computing as much as a decade before the PC. Engelbart presided over the ground-breaking 1968 demo of his Augment concept, which included multiple overlapping windows, the original mouse, a screen cursor, video conferencing, hyperlinks and cut-and-paste -- virtually every aspect of the modern PC user interface three decades later. Yet the combination of Engelbart's ego and his poor management skills doomed the project, and his best team members leaked over to Xerox PARC, where they worked on the equally doomed "Alto" workstation, source of Steve Job's inspiration.

In parallel to this central story are those of the Stanford AI Lab (SAIL), the Free University, the People's Computer Company, and the Homebrew Computer Club, all located within a few files of the center of the San Francisco peninsula. SAIL, in its first incarnation under John McCarthy and Les Earnest, may have been the first place where computers (or the powerful access to a time-sharing server) really were "personal", and was almost certainly the birthplace of the first true computer game, SpaceWar. It was the locus of naked hot-tub parties, a porn video, and not a little bit of LSD (taken both as serious experimentation and recreationally) that fueled a cast of characters dodging the Vietnam war at Stanford and at the ARPA-funded Stanford Research Institute and creating a counter-culture. Virtually everyone linked to the genesis of the PC spent some time at SAIL, including Alan Kay, who conceived the first notebook computer, who appears first at SAIL before running into Englebart and his enrapturing demo of Augment, leading him to PARC and eventually Apple.

"Dormouse" is peppered with odd juxtapositions and combinations of characters including Fred Moore, the anti-war activist and single father who knit the community together with a pile of special punch cards and a knitting needle and helped create the People's Computer Company and the Homebrew Computer Club. Another, Steve Dompier, was widely accused -- falsely, Markoff convincingly reports -- of being the source for the infamous distribution of Gates' early Altair BASIC. ...

If the book has a problem, this is it. Markoff neither presents a first-person oral history nor is he able to tease a single central narrative thread out of this creative soup. He tells several interwoven stories, but there is so large a cast of characters that one must be a dedicated reader (or have a previous knowledge of some of the events described) to keep everything straight. Without a single narrative, the book returns several times to the start of a timeline, retracing it from another perspective, and after a while you feel the need for a map.

Markoff's own "Takedown" shows that with a clear narrative arc he is a wonderful writer, and while the complexity of the tale make keep away casual readers, Markoff does the entire technology industry a great service by capturing these tales while most of the primary sources are still alive. The central story of Doug Engelbart deserves a book of its own -- a better book than the nearly unreadable Bootstrapping by Thierry Bardini -- and one can hope that Markoff revisits the trove of original material he located for this story to write that book.

"Dormouse" is an essential "prequel" to Michael Hiltzik's excellent Dealers of Lightning, the definitive work (so far) on Xerox PARC, and belongs on every bookshelf that includes Katie Hafner's Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet.

For anyone who thinks they know anything, or wants to know anything, about the real roots of the PC revolution and the pioneers who never got famous, this book is required reading.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent Material but The Guy Needs an Editor!! 24. August 2005
Von Fabio G. Rojas - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
"What the Dormouse Said" is an excellent book about two research groups based around Stanford. The two groups developed many of the key components of modern computing, and were closely linked to the counter-culture of the 1960s that flourished near Stanford.

I was quite excited to read this book. I learned a great deal of things, from the relatively minor (e.g., the origin of the word "mouse") to the extremely important (e.g., how the personal computer was a radical departure from the concept of shared computing). The book is full of keen observations about the odd individuals and groups that were responsible for making the jump from mainframes to the personal computer.

However, the book suffers from a huge problem, which others have poitned out. The book doesn't have consistent themes that pull all the anecdotes and fascinating history together. Good non-fiction books usually have three levels of organization: big ideas that motivate the entire tome; themes that link material between and within chapters; and clear sentence level writing.

The book has the big idea and it is clearly written on the level of sentences and paragraphs, but you get lost reading through chapters. There are so many people that just appear and disappear that it's hard to keep track of them. I felt like the author was lazy and just dumped a lot of oral history on the page, without going through the process of finding strong organizing principles for the material. I found the book really frustrating to read.

It's a shame. A good editor could have really whipped this book into an outstanding work of non-fiction. One or two more rounds of writing and rewriting, and the book would really be outstanding. It's has all the right stuff... it's so close ...

To summarize:

If you love CS history, this book is a must have.

If you have a passing interest, it's worth only reading the early chapters on the genesis of the PC concept.

General readers can safely ignore this book, it's too meandering to catch the general reader's attention.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen From Cultural Upheaval Came Modern PC Technology 29. April 2005
Von Robert E. Murena Jr. - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
As all major movements and innovations seem to come out of periods of cultural upheaval so true is it of the computer revolution that brought about the information age. Here we see that Steve Wozniak's Apple one was just an immediate cause the soon to come home computing explosion. It wasn't until brew-club mate Steve Jobs saw that the market was ripe to start selling computers that the market took off. But underlying this well known story of garage-built computing is a much deeper and much more interesting story of how the field of computer science developed in sequence with the intellectual community and how it wasn't until these fields clashed (or symbiotically nurtured) with 1960's psychedelic counterculture as only California could have produced it that the computer science really took off. "What the Dormouse Said" explores how the computer industry needed freedom from the heavy top down institutions of the East Coast and found it in Silicon Valley.

Of course it all started with transistors that TI built into integrated circuits in 1958. This was the essential technology that made the revolution possible and though the IC wasn't perfect it was only a few years before the idea of a home PC was possible. As possible as it was, Digital's CEO Ken Olson said that there was no reason anyone would want a computer in their home. This backward view, like Bill Gates in 1981 when he said there is no reason a PC would require more than 640K of RAM, seems laughable in hindsight yet it was these philosophies, among forward thinking men no less, that probably slowed down the process. It only follows that if these were the innovators closed-mindedness must have been the prevailing stance within the computer science community. Nevertheless progress did happen and thinking that within twenty years of the invention of the transistor solid stat computing was a solid technology it could very well be that these years saw a far greater technological leap than we have seen in the last 20 years.

As always is the case it was midlevel people that truly brought about the computer revolution. These people; the mid-level intelligent doers not the business leaders were able to thrive technically in the environment of the 1960's that questioned everything. This questioning allowed the cutting edge technology industry to break apart from stifling corporate mentalities of the current tech businesses and even universities that were still under the yoke of 19th century corporate mentality to a great extent. It was Stanford University that offered a strange mix of willingness to fund computer research and yet was a hot bead of counterculture. As a university that had a small amount of prestige yet by no means an overwhelmingly stifling atmosphere it was a breeding ground for new ideas. This naturally turned out to be a nurturing atmosphere for technical innovation.

John Markoff, explores this time of innovation that resulted in the fledgling PC industry. The book is less than a narrative and more of a mix of events accounts of people within the industry and researched texts. It is a very fast and interesting read. The connection of drugs and the enhancment consciousness and the idea that computers could augment the human intellect that Doug Englebart apparently had was visionary, though quite possibly accidental. The Drug culture of the 1960's at least opened the door to the idea of a world connected by computers. Reading this book really makes one aware of how visionary and pioneering these young computer scientists really were. I have been a fan of Markoff and his articles for a long time and I see he really put a lot of effort into making this book lucid and vital. This history is very important to us now and it had me call into question weather WWII or the PC revolution was the most important event of the 20th century. The only problem is that the book seems somewhat disjointed and I had trouble following the book at times. Overall I think this book is fascinating and should be required reading for engineering students. I

Ted Murena
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Forget Berkeley; the Sixties Happened in Palo Alto!? 16. Juni 2005
Von Alex Soojung-Kim Pang - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Like many other reviewers of John Markoff's terrific "What the Dormouse Said," I live in the area-- neighborhood, really-- that is Markoff's subject; I've met a few of the characters he writes about; and I've read a lot of the literature on the history of Silicon Valley.

The claim that the counterculture laid the foundations for the personal computer is, as Markoff himself notes, not new: Stewart Brand and Theodore Roszak both made the argument, albeit in much shorter form, and among a certain generation of Silicon Valley players (anyone roughly the same age as Jerry Garcia), the claim is just... obvious. Markoff takes this conventional wisdom and puts flesh and bones on it, and he does a great job explicating the work of Doug Engelbart and John McCarthy.

But what really strikes me about the book is the claim that, in the long run, the history of the Sixties was made in apparently-sleepy Palo Alto, not noisy Berkeley (an hour's drive north). Berkeley got all the press, but in the long run, what was the importance of the student protests? What's the legacy of People's Park? It's a ratty, undeveloped block, as the university refuses to sell and activists refuse to let the university build on it. Palo Alto, in contrast, gave us the Grateful Dead and the personal computer-- the second of which unquestionably changed the world, and arguably reflected the best of the counterculture more than anything that happened in San Francisco or Berkeley.

For those who live in the area, the claim may seem both obvious and strange. The idea that the future is invented here is now commonplace; the notion that it's an interesting place to live, on the other hand, is a harder sell. And certainly the cheap houses tucked away behind Stanford, or in some lesser-known neighborhoods in Palo Alto and Menlo Park, are gone gone gone. But even today, we can see traces of the world Markoff describes, and describes brilliantly.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Stretching to turn coincidence into history 25. Oktober 2005
Von Jerry Saperstein - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
John Markoff has been known to stretch reality on occasion as in, for example, his book on Kevin Mitnick. Here, Markoff tries to link the development of the personal computer with the so-called counterculture. While the attempt is entertaining, it doesn't work.

Granted, there were a lot of people in the San Francisco Bay area ingesting LSD, smoking reefer and everything else in the period Markoof describes. And some of these folks were involved with anti-war groups, peace movements and a lot of other fringe phenomena. And a few of these foks who took drugs and protested the Vietnam war also worked in the area of computer and software design. Markoff would have the reader believe that all these facts are not only connected, but led to the idea for what has come to be known as the personal computer.

The trouble with Markoff's thesis is that the same things were happening in Boston, Austin, Champaign-Urbana and many other places. And, in fact, many of the concepts that came to be incorporated into the personal computer came from these other places. Moreover, not all those who developed these concepts, wherever they were located, used drugs, were anti-war, studied and implemented Mao's Little Red Book (as Doug Englebart, one of the Markoff's major heros) did.

The Bay Area did have a heavy concentration of scientifically oriented universities, many engineers, technicians and scientists and a lot of companies requiring those skills. So it is not at all surprising that lots of ideas about computers and their uses came from these people and this area. Likewise, it wasn't surprising that so many automobile companies --- and there were dozens at one time --- located in Detroit, where the earliest pioneers were. It would be difficult for someone to argue that Henry Ford's auto manufacturing revolution stemmed from Detroit's culture of the time, much less its counterculture. But that's essentially what Markoff attempts here.

Worse, he links much of it to a bunch of groups he acknowledges, if not admits, were more oriented toward the goals of Stalin and Mao. Markoff glosses over the fact that it was taxpayer and corporate funding that made all of the developments he describes possible. Overall, Markoff attepts to connect coincidence (the rise of the counterculture) with the inexorable quest for new technology.

All that aside, Markoff has written an interesting history of some of the earliest players in what became the development of the personal computer and the area and times they lived in. At the same time, he ignores the contributions of many others who did not live or work on the West Coast, a necessity in his failed attempt to connect the counterculture and the scientists.

For those deeply interested in the history of computer development, it's a mildly informative read. For the general reader, however, lacking a knowledge of the industry, it is a misleading book. It wasn't only the drug-ingesting, anti-war, Mao reciting folks who made the personal computer possible.

Jerry
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Stewart Brand has argued in his essay We Owe It All to the Hippies that the countercultures scorn for centralized authority provided the philosophical foundations of not only the leaderless Internet but also the entire personal-computer revolution.1 &quote;
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