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Summary

This is the story of how a handful of geeks and mavericks dragged the computer out of corporate back rooms and laboratories and into our living rooms and offices. It is a tale not only of extraordinary innovation and vision but also of cunning business deals, boardroom tantrums and acrimonious lawsuits.

Here you will find some of the most intelligent and eccentric people you could hope to meet, including wide-eyed hippies, subversive students, computer nerds, entrepreneurs, hackers, crackers and financial backers. Some lost out and some became millionaires, but all played a part in transforming our world.

©2014 Matt Nicholson (P)2015 Matt Nicholson

Critic reviews

"I have read numerous books on the history of personal computing and rate this one highly." (Tim Anderson, ITWriting)
"I enjoyed this book; it has obviously been extremely well researched, and is well written and takes a coherent route through the history." (Kay Ewbank, I Programmer)
"Matt Nicholson ... was in a position to observe all this first-hand." (Wendy M Grossman, ZDNet)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • J. Mc
  • Merseyside
  • 16-10-15

great

I find the book very comprehensive, it covered all of the different computers I've ever owned from the 80s till modern day. enjoyed listening to it. highly recommended!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good for Brits

Much of the story in this book has been covered in even greater detail elsewhere, especially the stories of Steve Jobs/Apple and Bill Gates/Microsoft. However, I've never encountered a book where the British contribution has been covered in reasonable detail. Nicholson puts this straight with his coverage of Clive Sinclair with the ZX80/81/Spectrum, the BBC Micro, and Amstrad's cheap PCs.

There was one serious omission though : no mention at all of the Acorn Archimedes series, all the more surprising when he does discuss RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Chip) architecture, and the Archimedes was the first home computer to feature it. What's more, the Archimedes introduced the world to the ARM chip, which is the heart of the majority of mobile devices today.

The narration was ok I suppose, though I did fall asleep a few times. I guess it's hard to sound enthusiastic and excited when talking about such prosaic technical things.

On the whole this is a useful overview of the emergence of the home computer, and though it strays at times into over-detailed descriptions of the technical side of things, it's good to get the story of what happened on both sides of the Atlantic rather than simply the Stateside view.

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I really found the story interesting

it's always tough to get the facts right from audio books, so I'll have to lien to it a few more times. but i really enjoyed it. fit done things there was a bit of a walk down memory lane.

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  • Ash
  • Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom
  • 14-05-16

Such a great book, brings back memories.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s and was in a position to use and play with a lot of PC and Mac hardware so this brings back lots of memories. Great book, great read and not at all dry which you might expect from the subject matter.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great short history of the PC and Mac

Fantastic summary of the "personal" computer from the DEC minis, Apple I, II and Mac, IBM PC and clones, Speccy and Acorn/BBC. Rightly ends with the rise of the smartphone and tablets.
Basically Gates and Jobs/Wozniak decisions back in the 70s and on going into the 80s defined the products we use today.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Walker Dodson
  • 14-08-16

Good Book, Horrible Narrator.

The book was great. I learned a lot. however I could only listen to a chapter at a time because the narrator was so monotoned. the narrator caused me to get bored. I felt as if I was in a college class that I was forced to take.

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  • Andrew Crawford
  • 13-05-16

Good material, distracting performance

Narrator had an over-fussy pronunciation style that I found distracting, and didn't appear to be following the meaning of what he was reading, resulting in odd word emphases and distracting pauses. very slow delivery too, though listening on 125% speed helped with that.

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  • John O.
  • 20-03-16

A fun trip down the halls of PC history.

What made the experience of listening to When Computing Got Personal the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed the stories of the early frontier days of the Personal Computer market.

What did you like best about this story?

Good coverage of the early and middle PC era.

What about Norman Gilligan’s performance did you like?

It was soothing to listen to, though some of the pronunciation of computer terms was incorrect.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I wouldn't say it was a particularly moving story, but an interesting one.

Any additional comments?

A fantastic listen.

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  • David Molay
  • 18-05-15

Fond memories.

A very good retelling of the creation of the personal computer. Some of the stories differed from other versions I've heard, but that's to be expected.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-03-17

Great Book, Terrible Narrator

The book is well-worth reading; however, the narrator lacks style, intonation, and, overall, performs worse than Alexa or Google Assistant. Don't waste your money/credits. Buy the book.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rich
  • 15-02-17

Fairly interesting book... slow/droning narrator

I don't know what came first, but this book is almost identical to the content (interview quotations and all) of the documentary series "Rise of the Nerds."

If you don't have time, I'd save your money and just watch that 3 part series. It has actual clips of the figures portrayed in the book like Moore, Gates, the creator of VisiCalc and the Homebrew organizer guy who all are much more interesting to listen to than this book's narrator (who's about as dry as a popcorn fart, and not as fast).

0 of 1 people found this review helpful