I've been goofin' around with computers for the past 24 years, been working in online communities for the past 20, and have been a full-time web fella for the past 14. Here's a few great books, about all those things, that I've enjoyed along the way.
by Douglas Coupland
This is a novel about a group of engineers that work at Microsoft. It completely captures the engineer mentality and along the way, hey, Coupland wove together a great little novel. After you read this, move on to JPod (below)...
by Douglas Coupland
Sort of like Microserfs (above), but instead of engineers at Microsoft, this is a folks at a large gaming company (think: EA). As one reviewer put it, "so amazingly accurate"; another said "completely captures the culture of the gaming industry" — and I couldn't agree more.
by Charles Drazin, Erik Portanger, Ernst Malmsten
I distinctly remember checking out boo.com (a site to sell high fashion) soon after it launched and thinking "wow, this is one of the worst web sites I've ever seen." Well, wait until you read the story of the narcissistic founders, the insane amount of money they burned through, the crazy parties... it's really beyond belief. A terrific snapshot of the absolute peak of the Internet bubble.
by Guy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki pretty much invented evangelism and he's a large reason why the Mac survived its rocky launch. A great book about the introduction of the Macintosh and why evangelism matters.
by Jeffrey S. Young
This book is out of date (it was published in 1988), but that's why it's great... you get the story of Apple's golden years without the idol worship (or viciousness) that seems unavoidable in all the more recent Jobs biographies.
by Steven Levy
Steven Levy captures the essence of how computers went from mainframes to PCs by introducing us to a cast of amazing characters along the way. Just the section on the incredibly eccentric guys known as phone phreaks (people who "hacked" the phone system to make free phone calls and so much more) makes the whole book. Levy is a fantastic writer and makes even the driest subjects come alive.
by Tracy Kidder
This remarkable book tells the story of the early days of the "computer revolution" — in this case, the late 70s. The book looks a lot at the birth of what we think of as today's "startup mentality": working late hours, doing whatever it takes to get the job done, and being totally committed to the the project (in an almost religious tone). If you wonder why, and how, engineers can become so immersed in their projects (and this is before the 1990s' stock options made people millionaires!), this book will show you.
by Po Bronson
After reading Soul of a New Machine, fast-forward 15 years to this book, stories of some of the more eccentric characters filling Silicon Valley who were key to the Internet revolution. (The title of the book refers to a story about a talented coder who preferred to work at night, sans clothes — and his employers who acquiesced, needing him to be working more than for him to be dressed). Po Bronson brings the Valley to life with a cast of characters; inventors, visionaries, immigrants, writers, coders and dreamers and more are all represented in dynamic, bright writing.
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. more...
About Eric Mueller
I live in Los Angeles, where it's not really about reading, it's about movies -- yet given the choice, I usually prefer to curl up with a good book. Most of my reading gets done on airplanes or laying in bed in that quiet hour right before lights-out. I'm also known to collect pretty much every book having anything to do with Disney's theme parks.
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