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Commodore: A Company on the Edge [Hardcover]

Brian Bagnall
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: 23.99
Price: 21.24 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

6 Jan 2011
Filled with first-hand accounts of ambition, greed, and inspired engineering, this history of the personal computer revolution takes readers inside the cutthroat world of Commodore. Before Apple, IBM, or Dell, Commodore was the first computer manufacturer to market its machines to the public, selling an estimated 22 million Commodore 64s. Those halcyon days were tumultuous, however, owing to the expectations and unsparing tactics of founder Jack Tramiel. Engineers and managers with the company between 1976 and 1994 share their memories of the groundbreaking moments, soaring business highs, and stunning employee turnover that came with being on top in the early days of the microcomputer industry. This updated second edition includes additional interviews and first-hand material from major Commodore figures like marketing guru Kit Spencer, chip designer Bill Mensch, and Commodore co-founder Manfred Kapp.

Frequently Bought Together

Commodore: A Company on the Edge + The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga (Platform Studies Series) + Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer
Price For All Three: 54.76

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 561 pages
  • Publisher: Variant Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (6 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0973864966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0973864960
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 15 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 107,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth about personal computing 11 Feb 2011
It is hard to find a document telling a neutral point about personal computing. Everywhere you find Apple as the pioneers of personal computing, when the truth is they were not relevant until much later. If you want to know how history is, and not what some people would have liked it was, try this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely recommended! 13 July 2011
I recently purchased the second edition of this book and was absolutely blown away by the level of detail and great writing style. I just couldn't put it down before I turned the last page, literally! The level of detail and personal accounts/views of all these famous people is presented in a way that everyone will enjoy, not just computer enthusiasts. There is a bit of technical information and backround on the computer chips etc., but it never gets to a level of say a design document or dry technical manual. It is a well written account of Commodore's golden days, as heard from the mouth of those famous people who were making history. This book has more than any article or internet site that you could find today. It even includes a bit of "where are they now" at the end.
As said by one previous reviewer, it ends where Jack Tramiel is forced out, but promises a second book to come in 2012, I can't wait!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best non-fiction book I've read 12 Mar 2011
My review is based on the 1st Edition.

If you are a fan of Commodore and are interested in the stories behind it I can't imagine you not liking this book. It has some great stories, and I was very impressed with the amount of infomation.

This one is an expanded version of the 1st edition and has more pictures, though it stops at the Amiga. There is another book coming out next year that continues from the Amiga's release.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I adore the book. However.... 2 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought the original edition and must have ready it at least six times. As my copy is getting a bit tatty it seemed the ideal opportunity to upgrade to a kindle version.

As has been stated by other reviewers, this is a very different book from the first edition. Bagnall finishes with Jack Tramiel leaving commodore, excluding the creation of the C128 and the Amiga years.

Trust me, you will really enjoy this book.

This version appears to have more input from Kit Spencer, giving greater insight. I look forward to the second volume.

There are several things, however, that prevent me from giving it five stars:

In the introduction he mentions revisionist rewriting history to exclude commodore from the early days of the computer industry. However, Bagnall makes reference to Sinclair's "junk computer" and states in a later chapter "Despite the similar look and price, the ZX Spectrum dominated over the C116 in the UK. However, the C64 continued its domination of the ZX Spectrum, making the C116 redundant."

I am not aware of the C116 ever being released in the UK. It was the C16. Also, as someone who worked in retail at the time my recollection is that the C64 and spectrum both sold roughly 50/50 in the UK, with the spectrum possibly selling more. The spectrum sold over 5 million units (excluding a huge number of clone machines)in it's 10 years life.

It is understandable that this book is written with a North American point of view, but I worry that an uninformed reader would believe Sinclair were a small footnote in the computer industry. Where did the UK stats come from?

But as I said, great book!
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
To an outsider, Commodore looked like just another company that came and went, but they were SO much more than that!
This book tells the story about the meaty part of Commodores history right up to Tramiels departure. The book is also a fascinating insight into how a technology company is run and how it grows. Loved every page and am devastated that the sequel has been cancelled.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, poorly written. 4 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a must for old C64 owners, but it is very poorly written and edited.
Note to author, you don't have to put every pointless as anecdote your interviewee tells you in the book if it has no impact on the story you are telling.
Also, I had not realised this book stops before Amigo years, so left unfinished with no idea if or when next book is out.
The most interesting thing I took away is how history is written by the victors.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An 80s icon, as dramatic as Dallas! 31 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found the book to be well written and did leave me feeling confident that it had been well researched with many quotes coming from key people in the history of Commodore. Having had a C64c as a kid and spending (way too many) hours playing games and trying a little but of programming I have great memories if the machine itself and this was a great way to find out about a true pioneer in the early days of microcomputers. It's great to be able to go through a book like this and see Commodore attributed with many early advancements that today I think people just assume was Apple! It has left me really wanting more though, as the book takes you up to the departure of the company founder and stops before where I personally have even more fond memories, the Amiga. I believe a somewhat stalled sequel relating to the Amiga years is floating about by the author but is yet to see the light of day and it's been stated that the project is currently parked. Fingers crossed the excellent book will see its sequel, as in many ways this is only half the story!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very Good Book
Published 7 days ago by Barbara Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars Real history for the masses
A detailed history of pre-Amiga Commodore
A lot has been written before but this has an element of real fact drama. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Dean Stansfield
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into the birth of the personal computer
Having owned a C64 in my teen years, and having learnt BASIC and assembler thanks to it, I found this history of Commodore irresistible reading. Read more
Published 17 months ago by mal
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it is different to the 1st Edition. And definitely worth getting!
Having been a long time Commodore user I was most curious what drove this company. And utilimately what killed it. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mr. T. Haddrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to put down - an excellent read
This is a history book with a writing style and narrative to put action novels to shame. For the subject matter, it is difficult to imagine a more streamlined mix of interview... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Buzz
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
I grew up with the C64 and then the A500 etc. This book is a fascinating insight into the history of Commodore as a whole, right from the first computer that they made. Read more
Published on 30 Jun 2012 by Isaac
4.0 out of 5 stars You can't stop reading
The book is very good, I am struggling to put it away even that I know it's late.
It would be nice if it had more images and detailed technical info but I guess you can find... Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2012 by Digger
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read!
It's not the most well written book on computing history, but the chronology, interviews, quotes and sheer amazing story make this a "must own" book if you want to know what... Read more
Published on 3 Jan 2012 by N. Speakman
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
The Commodore 64 and Amiga 500 I owned when I was young played a great part of my life to the extent that i chose a career as a software developer. Read more
Published on 27 Oct 2011 by Borgar Olsen
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