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Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer

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The late Seventies to the early Nineties was a completely unique period in the history of computing. Long before Microsoft and Intel ruled the PC world, a disparate variety of home computers, from an unlikely array of suppliers, were engaging in a battle that would shape the industry for years to come. Products from established electronics giants clashed with machines whic The late Seventies to the early Nineties was a completely unique period in the history of computing. Long before Microsoft and Intel ruled the PC world, a disparate variety of home computers, from an unlikely array of suppliers, were engaging in a battle that would shape the industry for years to come. Products from established electronics giants clashed with machines which often appeared to have been (or actually were) assembled in a backyard shed by an eccentric inventor. University professors were competing head to head with students in their parents' garages. Compatibility? Forget it! Each of these computers was its own machine and had no intention of talking to anything else. The same could be said of their owners, in fact, who passionately defended their machines with a belief that verged on the religious. This book tells the story behind 40 classic home computers of an infamous decade, from the dreams and inspiration, through passionate inventors and corporate power struggles, to their final inevitable demise. It takes a detailed look at every important computer from the start of the home computer revolution with the MITS Altair, to the NeXT cube, pehaps the last serious challenger in the personal computer marketplace. In the thirteen years between the launch of those systems, there has never been a more frenetic period of technical advance, refinement, and marketing, and this book covers all the important steps made on both sides of the Atlantic. Whether it's the miniaturization of the Sinclair machines, the gaming prowess of the Amiga, or the fermenting war between Apple Computer, "Big Blue," and "the cloners," we've got it covered. Digital Retro is an essential read for anyone who owned a home computer in the Eighties.


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The late Seventies to the early Nineties was a completely unique period in the history of computing. Long before Microsoft and Intel ruled the PC world, a disparate variety of home computers, from an unlikely array of suppliers, were engaging in a battle that would shape the industry for years to come. Products from established electronics giants clashed with machines whic The late Seventies to the early Nineties was a completely unique period in the history of computing. Long before Microsoft and Intel ruled the PC world, a disparate variety of home computers, from an unlikely array of suppliers, were engaging in a battle that would shape the industry for years to come. Products from established electronics giants clashed with machines which often appeared to have been (or actually were) assembled in a backyard shed by an eccentric inventor. University professors were competing head to head with students in their parents' garages. Compatibility? Forget it! Each of these computers was its own machine and had no intention of talking to anything else. The same could be said of their owners, in fact, who passionately defended their machines with a belief that verged on the religious. This book tells the story behind 40 classic home computers of an infamous decade, from the dreams and inspiration, through passionate inventors and corporate power struggles, to their final inevitable demise. It takes a detailed look at every important computer from the start of the home computer revolution with the MITS Altair, to the NeXT cube, pehaps the last serious challenger in the personal computer marketplace. In the thirteen years between the launch of those systems, there has never been a more frenetic period of technical advance, refinement, and marketing, and this book covers all the important steps made on both sides of the Atlantic. Whether it's the miniaturization of the Sinclair machines, the gaming prowess of the Amiga, or the fermenting war between Apple Computer, "Big Blue," and "the cloners," we've got it covered. Digital Retro is an essential read for anyone who owned a home computer in the Eighties.

30 review for Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fred Gannett

    This is a beautiful book for those that love their tech. Large glossy picture of early personal computers with commentary and anecdotes from those involved in the machine development. Lots of familiar machines from the early days of small personal computers as well as the mega selling early games consoles. Captures a slice across some of the most influential machines from back in the day.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    This is a beautiful fill colour retrospective of key personal computers from 1975's Altair 8800 to the NeXT Cube of 1988. Fantastic. This is a beautiful fill colour retrospective of key personal computers from 1975's Altair 8800 to the NeXT Cube of 1988. Fantastic.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kam Yung Soh

    A beautifully illustrated book that would be enjoyed by those that lived through the 1980s and have used or heard about any of the computers (and occasional game consoles) featured in this book. It was a time when the future of the home computer was up for grabs and competition for customers was fierce before the dust settled and the few common types of computers we see (mainly the IBM PC and Apple Macintosh) dominate the marketplace. The book covers many computers, starting from 1975 with the MIT A beautifully illustrated book that would be enjoyed by those that lived through the 1980s and have used or heard about any of the computers (and occasional game consoles) featured in this book. It was a time when the future of the home computer was up for grabs and competition for customers was fierce before the dust settled and the few common types of computers we see (mainly the IBM PC and Apple Macintosh) dominate the marketplace. The book covers many computers, starting from 1975 with the MITS Altair 8800 and ending in 1988 with the NeXT Cube. Photographs of each computer (or a model variation) are presented from various angles with text explaining the background of the computer and the companies and people who created it. The photographs are original to the book and required finding the computers involved from various museums and collectors. The text was written with accuracy in mind, which required the original creators to be interviewed whenever possible. If you are looking for a overview of computers on the market in the USA and the UK in the 1980s, this is the book to read. More information on the book can be found at the Digital Retro website.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Irwin

    What moves this book to the four-star category is the wealth of information on British computer systems, most completely unknown on this side of the Atlantic. Nice photography and breezy text made this a pleasure to read, although I found myself wanting to see more from these old computers - even pictures of the startup screens or main user interface would have made this book a lot more valuable as a reference tool.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David

    Should have included the C128.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Travis

    A good source of information on the early microcomputers.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jason Brown

  8. 5 out of 5

    Zack Urlocker

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Ashton

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nicolas

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Emmerling

  12. 5 out of 5

    Neil Radley

  13. 5 out of 5

    Arthur

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scott Taylor

  15. 4 out of 5

    John McDermott

  16. 5 out of 5

    Martin Carranza Torres

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Cain

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andrew John Young

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paolo Vecchiocattivi

  20. 4 out of 5

    Will

  21. 5 out of 5

    Blake Patterson

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Levin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dave Cheney

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sam Bartle

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristgy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stefano Paganini

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Nettleton

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