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Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything Paperback – Jun 2000


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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: 13.1 x 2.4 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,074,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Walton TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Jan 2008
Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on 29 April 1997
Format: Paperback
What I find most satisfying about Levy's style is that he resisted the urge to indulge in hero worship. It's really difficult when dealing with the sort of people he's talking about.After all, this is the computer that's always been "better", stands to reason the people behind it would be interesting. So it's a real relief for me that Levy didn't focus on any one of the people involved (it wouldn't have been easy anyway since the Macintosh project involved so many people who left their mark). The book is quite entertaining, and attains just the right level of concentration required to mimic the frenzied work that went into the mac. When you come out of 'insanely great' you get the feeling that you know a lot of these people, and that you understand what they did. This is only true because Levy speaks of their faults as well as their amazing abilities. The book isn't a blow by blow account of the development of the mac. I got the sense that numerous little details had been kept out of my view so that the bigger picture could present itself. This was probably a good decision to make, since the book could have gone on endlessly. If you want to know how the germ of an interface that felt like home was born, how it took a group of people who believed it would change the world to make it a reality, to get some idea of what went on while the great texts of the Macintosh religion were being discovered and written, and if you want to hear some of the greatest corporate/computer metaphors you'd ever encounter, you need this book. Maybe, just maybe you'll come out of this with a real understanding of why 'real artists ship' and what it means to make a dent in the universe. If you've ever used a Mac and wondered why it felt so good, you should read Levy's book.
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By A Customer on 17 April 1999
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Jun 1998
Format: Paperback
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 A Customer on 24 Sep 1998
Format: Paperback
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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