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Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer Paperback – 4 Oct 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: ILEX (4 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904705391
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904705390
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 1.6 x 25.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 166,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Full of pictures and descriptions of classic machines, a fascinating trip down memory lane. -- PCW Magazine, January 2005

The book is packed with glossy photos and reams of fascinating trivia. -- What Laptop, February 2005

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Cinemascope on 26 Nov. 2004
Format: Paperback
Lots of lovely, proudly different defunct hardware from the now bygone era of "Home" as opposed to "Personal" Computers. But given that the book celebrates the aesthetics of these machines - text information given is pertinent, but minimal - it's a shame that a few photogenic models from the past don't appear. For the nerds in the know, I would have included oddities like the Memotech and Enterprise.
The images presented are very sharp and clear, but on some machines the colour and contrast are a bit washed out. In the case of the Spectrum, for example, you could be left with the impression it was dark grey rather than jet black. This may be because the 'black slab' design of so many of the machines makes it hard to reveal detail without reducing contrast, but I have seen better pictures of the Spectrum elsewhere. All the photos are large & detailed however, and the machines shown are all in showroom condition.
My final niggle is that there are no photographs to remind readers - many if not most of whom probably never saw more than one or two of these in operation - what these relics showed on screen in day to day use. From the dot-crawl haze of most Sinclair machines on ordinary TVs (No FST either, 14 inch portables of course!) to the mysterious green on black glow of more 'serious' computers, to the variously blocky, colour clashing, purple, or upmarket RGB displays, what came out the business end of these machines is surely a necessary compliment to such an exercise as this? Especially when many of the items in the book have onboard displays, it's a shame they are all 'off'!
It's a lovely book - in a not very crowded genre - that anyone who has any interest in electronics, design, games platforms or valiant commercial flops will appreciate, but it simultaneously gives the impression that only the surface has been scratched, once you start to count all the machines that you remember which don't appear.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By G.P. Cole on 22 Oct. 2004
Format: Paperback
I bought a copy of this book and within 24 hours I was having to order another one The reason? A friend of mine popped around, picked it up and fell in love with it, so I let him have my copy. The history of computers is littered with products that came, we saw... and didn't conquer. Digital Retro chronicles many of them. In addition to being packed with lots of interesting facts and information (I love the "Did you Know?" and "What happened next" sections in particular), it is lavishly illustrated with many great photographs of these wonderful (and not so wonderful) boxes of silicon chips and electronics.
In addition, Gordon Laing has done a lot of legwork, interviewing many of the pioneers behind the machines and in the process, digging out lots of new and interesting facts about how these computers were conceived and developed. We hear about the triumphs and disasters, the struggles and the sucessess - which sadly, none of the players were able to capitalise on and make their machine the de facto standard for home computing (a certain Mr Bill Gates would eventually take that prize...)
The design of this coffee-table book means you can read it from cover-to-cover or dip into sections that take your fancy. You might think that a book like this would only appeal to old computer nerds wanting to trek along the road to nostalgia, but you'd be wrong. My teenage sons were mesmerised by the old computers and Laing's writing style really brings the subject to life.
Even if you're only vaguely interested in computers, you should check out this book - you won't be disappointed and I bet you'll see computers in a new light as a result.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By D. C. Minter on 31 Oct. 2004
Format: Paperback
I bought this the other day as a birthday present for a fellow technophile. I spent an unintentional hour flicking through the pages at the gizmos that I owned or aspired to in my childhood. It will be a wrench to wrap this!
The photographs give a real feel for what these machines were like (judging from the ones I used to own), and the brief commentaries bring them into even shaper focus.
It's a coffee table book, but expect the coffee to go cold. Absolutely wonderful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas K. Johnston on 29 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having owned numerous 'Home' computers over the past 25 years, this book was a wonderful walk through my memories - sort of like the warm feeling you get recalling the sunny summer days of your childhood.

Beautifully photographed and put together, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who, like me, was there at the time all of these machines were introduced.

I give a four only because, like a few other reviewers, I would have liked to have seen more indepth commentary on the background and operation of each machine featured - and I do rue the obvious omission of the fabled Enterprise!

Overall however, if you're in the least bit inclined to own this book you will not be disappointed.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A. Wilson on 1 April 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked this book a lot, brought back memories as I lived through this era of computing and owned a fair few of the machines listed.
Trouble is I think they spent more time on presentation then content. A few paragraphs and picture captions cannot suffice for anybody interested in the underlying technology. There were very scant specs on each machine.
Why was there no screenshots of the machines working. For all the photographs there was none of the output. For instance, saying the Apple Lisa was the first with a GUI, with no detail is bad enough put not showing a photo of the GUI is frankly an omission I cannot condone.
This book is more of a coffee table book for the 'yuppies' to flick through at the 'dinner party' than a proper retrospective look at computers of old.
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