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Summary

Remember the ZX Spectrum? Ever have a go at programming with its stretchy rubber keys? Did you marvel at the immense galaxies of Elite on the BBC Micro or lose yourself in the surreal caverns of Manic Miner on the ZX Spectrum? For anyone who was a kid in the 1980s, these iconic computer brands are the stuff of legend.

In Electronic Dreams, Tom Lean tells the story of how computers invaded British homes for the first time, as people set aside their worries of electronic brains and Big Brother and embraced the wonder technology of the 1980s. This book charts the history of the rise and fall of the home computer, the family of futuristic and quirky machines that took computing from the realm of science and science fiction to being a user-friendly domestic technology. It is a tale of unexpected consequences, when the machines that parents bought to help their kids with homework ended up giving birth to the video games industry, and of unrealized ambitions, like the ahead-of-its-time Prestel network that first put the British home online but failed to change the world. Ultimately, it's the story of the people who made the boom happen, the inventors and entrepreneurs, like Clive Sinclair and Alan Sugar, seeking new markets, bedroom programmers and computer hackers and the millions of everyday folk who bought in to the electronic dream and let the computer into their lives.

©2016 Tom Lean (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

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Entertaining, Engaging, Enlightening

Very well written and narrated. It starts by showing the initial development of computing as a whole, and moves on to the background which fostered the boom in micro-computers in '80s Britain, starting with kit computers onward. Gives some interesting looks at not only the big hitters like Sinclair, Commodore, and Acorn (especially the influence of the BBC Micro and accompanying TV programmes) but other manufacturers and their machines.

Games get some great coverage from the early arcade-style ZX-81 titles which featured some creative use of ASCII characters, through to Ultimate Play The Game's isometric endeavours, and the galaxy in a casette/floppy, Elite.

While people with a light interest in reading about a very important age in computing will find this a great read, I reckon enthusiasts will lap up every word. An excellent look at not only the technology but the cultural impact which can still be felt today.

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That's my history

I started on ICL mainframes, but as soon as personal computers appeared, I had to have one (many). The commercial machines that I worked on changed as did the personal ones now I have 4 models of Raspberry Pi. This book tells the story of my progression and I suspect, many other enthusiasts I recommend it.

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Comprehensive and enjoyable nostalgia trip

Incredibly thorough history of the home computer in Britain. While listening a couple of times I thought 'hold why hasn't he mentioned X'? Then the next chapter would cover that very topic in detail!

Makes the point that whilst home computers were originally conceive primary as educational and 'tinkerers' devices it was gaming that proved to be the 'killer app'.

Anyone who nostalgically remembers owning the mighty ZX Spectrum (or even one of its inferior competitors) will find this walk down memory lane a compelling listen.

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Full of nostalgic enthusiasm.

If you grew up through the personal computer revolution you'll get a lot of nostalgic kicks and some great information, if you're new to the history this book is written (and read) with such enthusiasm that you'll get a taste of what it was like it be there.

Truly an inspiring tale and the best thing is - it's all true!

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Really enjoyable and accessable

A great run down of computer history in the 80's. Delivered factually with plenty of humour, an enjoyable educational listen.

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Great from start to finish.

Outstanding insight into the early days of the home computer in Britain. Definitely worth a look for those interested.

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Excellent account of the home micro revolution!

Absolutely loved this, as with other review i was shouting at the author what about when this happened and when that happened, but sure enough it was covered very soon or in the next chapter. One gripe would be the incorrect recollection of the Elite ship, it was a Cobra not a Viper!
I found this a fascinating account of the time, being a child of the seventies and 12 when I got my 16k ZX Spectrum in 1983 I vividly remember lots of these accounts but had no idea of the underlying problems with Britain's take up of the micro revolution. My father was a carpenter and no experience of electronics or computers but was very keen I learn and from this book I can see what drove him and others along. Fantastic stuff - highly recommend!

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Thanks For The Memories

This book gripped me from start to finish. If you were involved at all with the computer developments through the 1980's and 1990's you will find this an engrossing book.

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I love this book!

I've now listened to this book 3 times and it gets better with each listen. it really captures the excitement around home computers in the early 80s. I'd recommend this anyone who had one of the early machines.

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Lengthy, boring, occasionally exciting

What is a very interesting story delivered in such a boring way, like in a dull school textbook. Occasional breaks for exciting narrative and developments in the plot.

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  • Johnny
  • 28-09-17

Awesome outline of electronic history

I love this book. The content is excellent, offering a very clean and easy to follow timeline of the development of computers both from a technological perspective and an economic one, without getting dry or boring at all. The narrator is easy to listen to and really lets you focus on the story without any distraction. I enjoy the history of computers as a subject and out of the books I've read and listened to this is my favorite one in both regards.