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Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything [Paperback]

Steven Levy
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jun 2000
January 1994 marked the 10th anniversary of this personal computer breakthrough. A household word now, the Macintosh phenomenon marked a watershed point in techno-popular culture. The Macintosh pointed the way for all future machines - it raised the standard of what one could demand of a personal computer, raised the number of people who could master the use of a more capable, user-friendly one, and raised the stakes of what competing computer avatars (like Bill Gates of then-emerging Microsoft) could produce, sell and earn in the rapidly developing area of PC programming and research. It catapulated the computer industry into an uncharted territory, a mix of technics, economics and show biz. The Mac, columnist Steven Levy explores, became the nexus of all our futuristic dreams. Not unlike the Model T, or the first Apollo mission, it thrust America and US technology into a new millenium. Computinghas never been the same - neither have we.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (Jun 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140291776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140291773
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 13 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 568,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Author

In Days of Apple's worries, a reminder of glory
This book is special to me. From the moment I saw the Macintosh (some time before its release), I was charmed, not only by the machine but the people who created it. Those people in the Mac team became my friends; the machine became my primary tool for writing, and my window into worlds of software and communication. The idea for this book came to me thirteen months before the Mac's tenth anniversary--a relatively short, and somewhat personal history of the Mac to come out just at it turned 10. Since I had been consistently covering the Mac, I already had much of the research done--I followed up with a series of interviews to fill in the holes. (Those interviews were a lot of fun.) I learned stuff I'd never known, and I think for the first time you get a sense of how the Mac really evolved, from ideas like Bush's Memex through Xerox PARC, throught the LISA. You get a sense of what Jobs did, and what the others did. You see why it almost failed, and how the Mac II was made. And in the special addition for the paperback, there's the story of the PowerMac. But most important in these days of Apple's precarious position, I'm happy to have documented why Apple really matttered, and how a computer could change your life. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I bought this in 1996 from the Computer Literacy bookstore in Sunnyvale, and enjoyed reading its account of the development of the Mac: the inspiration, the mistakes, the personalities, the politics, the technical breakthroughs and the way in which it "changed everything". Recently, I pulled it off the shelf and read it again: this time around, it appears as more of a historical document, with some fascinating suggestions and guesses for future developments.

It's interesting to see how some of these have come (almost) true - for example, on p285, there's a description of a plan for a hand-held device whose "display might turn into a metaphoric music store. By touching the pictures of various shelves, one could browse through a stack of compact disks. Touching one CD icon might fill the screen with the label image. Touching again might trigger a wireless call to the record company - and the response would be a brief snippet of one of the songs on the CD." It all sounds like a pretty accurate prediction of iTunes and other on-line music stores, but it's worth noting that this plan wasn't (at the time) Apple's - instead, it came from General Magic, a company partially formed by disaffected Apple engineers to "help create the spiritual successor to Macintosh". The other way this plan deviates from the on-line music stores that we've become familiar with is the way it ends: with the CD of your choice being physically shipped to your house. The use of the internet as a carrier for music seems to have been just beyond the radar at the time. Although this isn't perhaps surprising, it's remarkable how (even for a book written in 1994, at the dawn of the World Wide Web) there's no mention of the internet at all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed book ruined by the authors self praise 20 Jun 1998
By A Customer
This is a very good book with a good history of the mac and what its creation was all about. Pity that the author ruins the book by continously talking about how great he is and how everyone at apple thought he was brilliant.
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By RichyS
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A well known story interestingly written. A few technical inaccuracies and could do with a proof read. Fascinating transcript of the Steve Jobs interview in this edition almost worth the entry fee on its own!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely great book. 26 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great account of the principals that formed the original Macintosh and still inform it today. Good companion to the Steve Jobs official bio.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Informative yet needs updating 17 April 1999
By A Customer
I found this book greatly enjoyable. I didn't really like the last third of it, which seems to drag along and is written at a very slow pace but the first two thirds were very enjoyable. Written in a dynamic tone it goes through very quickly and that could be the only real caveat I can find in it. It lasts 4 hours at the most. All in all I'd recommend it as a good story and a means to find out about how Apple came to be. I'd recommend it specially for people who also bought "The Mac Bathroom Reader" by Owen Linzmayer, for which this book could be a great introduction. If I had to change anything I'd update it (since it covers only until 1994 or so and misses some great moves Apple has pulled recently) and I'd update the look of it, since it looks very "passe".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for any computer user 24 Sep 1998
By A Customer
A wonderful book providing information on how Macintosh was born. While this book does not go into a full historical review of personal computers nor does it explain how Apple started, it does complete its titled premise: addressing what makes Macintosh insanely great and how it made a dent in the universe.
While following the birth and childhood of Macintosh, this book accounts when and why things went wrong. The good news is that Macintosh is simply a young adult with quite a bit of growing up still to do.
With the shipping of iMac, it's time again to look up this book and insist that Levy begin a sequel.
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By A Customer
Once again Steven Levy hits tops with this book. A complete background on the characters and events that lead to the introduction of the Apple Macintosh. The book is a little on the short side and there are some areas that I feel Steven could have covered in more depth. It's not as good as Hackers but still a worthy purchase.
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By A Customer
The fact that someone sat down and wrote this book is simply amazing. The history of the Macintosh is one that frought with misunderstanding and misconception due to distortion of facts. Since I am a professional and have worked on Macs since they first shipped, I wanted to be clear on a few of the tales that have been told. "Insanely Great" did that. It cleared the fog surrounding the truth about Macintosh and the people that brought it to life. And it is true..."Real Artists SHIP!". Thanks Steve for a wonderful book.Yours in Macintosh,Mike Murdock, OwnerMMACS
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