Revolution in the Valley by Andy Hertzfeld et al

revolution.gifIconic and authentic. I remember being mildly amused by the first incarnation of Andy Hertzfeld’s collection of anecdotes when it was first published. Revolution in the Valley was an intriguing and engaging set of reminiscences by many of those involved in making the Macintosh a reality collected from folklore.org. Newly re-released in 2011 here I find myself re-reading the stories and enjoying them even more.

This is a very unique volume. The anecdotes are short snippets written over the past decade and contributed to the folklore blog. This books brings them together and groups them into five seemingly logical segments of the development of the Macintosh and sprinkles in some great images – including Andy’s own notes and sxcribbles from the period.

The result is a poignantly authentic telling of the Macintosh development story from a variety of perspectives. It is not meant to be comprehensive or unbiased, merely reflective. It is almost Tolstoyan in delivery. You can walk away for a time and just jump back in and easily pick up where you left off. There are multiple intersecting plots and things just come together naturally. You don’t want to put it down though and I must say that I just wanted to read and read and read some more. It’s totally engrossing. Like many who will read the book I remember the early days and how I originally dismissed this toy of a machine, but one that went on to change my own life. This book takes you back to a different time (as Andy reflects himself in the afterword to the new edition) before so many recent Apple triumphs. Everything was so new and exciting in the early 80’s and the introduction of the graphical user interface on the Lisa and then Mac was a true revolution that goes on.

This is the book of tales from the inside. I think it’s all the more engaging for those who were there for the revolution and would be very interested to hear the perspective of those not there and who take what was so revolutionary for granted.

I read this as an ebook which seems somewhat odd, as the original conception of the book was to take the online version and put it into a particularly attractive and quality print edition and here it is coming full circle and being reassembled in an electronic format. Its really rather deserving of the print edition and I made a point of reading it on the iPad with full colour PDF rather than on the Sony eBook reader where this would be lost…but I did imagine myself reading the book and feeling the paper. I would highly recommend this for any and all and ebook or print volume this is a great collection. Taking it from content oriented folklore blog and creatively presenting it embellishes the collection and is well worth the investment.

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