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on 16 August 2006
I enjoyed this book a lot. Every chapter describes a part of Commodore's history, from moments such as the development of the PET, the VIC-20, the C64, C128 and the Amigas. The depiction of the protagonist Jack Tramiel (and later in the book Irving Gould) is superb and you feel as though you really get to know what it must have been like to work for him!

The latter part of the book was my initial main interest as I used to love my Amiga and it is shocking to learn how Commodore seemed to do their best to destroy any future it may have. However, the rest of the book (of which is the large majority) is about the 8-bit era and is very interesting indeed.

Highly recommended!
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on 9 August 2006
Growing up with computers as a hobby in the eighties and nineties, I have to admit that I am above average interested in the subject. However, this book covers the entire Commodore history, internally as well as in a competitive perspective, in a uniquely detailed and interesting way. I enjoyed every single page (there is 548!) plus the bonus chapter that has been released for free.

If you were into any of the "oldskool" computers, just interested in computers generally or want to read about the pioneers that built the foundation of modern computers, this is a your source. This is important computer history. Also, it is a side of the story that never has been told before.
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on 22 April 2007
This book has kept me engrossed for about the last month.

There is a lot of material, with the story telling effectively being shared between the author and numerous engineers and managers, in the form of lots of quotes.

I almost feel like I've been through all the events myself!

It's sad to think of what might have been, if the people in charge had got their act together before it was too late.

I hadn't realised how Apple seem to get most of the credit for the birth of the personal computer industry, yet Commodore and MOS Technology, with their 6502 microprocessor, were there first. This book might upset some Apple fans - the author tries to set the record straight. It is quite a contrast to books like Accidental Empires and Revolution in the Valley, both of which I also enjoyed. That said, it even brought back memories for me of using the Apple II, IIe, IIgs and Macintosh computers at work in the 1980s.

(I also own an early Commodore 64 and Amiga 500, as well as the original model of Sinclair ZX Spectrum.)

Towards the end of the book, things seem to speed up - most of the space is devoted to the early / 8-bit years. However, there is still very reasonable coverage of the Amiga years, right up to the end. Readers might also like to look at Amiga Forever Premium Edition DVDs, for additional Amiga-related material.

It is mostly text, though there are over 40 black and white images/photos of various sizes as well. Overall, this book has filled a lot of gaps in my knowledge - for example, I never knew about the Commodore 65, or the way the early chip layouts were done manually - and I'm glad I bought it!

I recommend this book to anyone who prefers a real insight instead of glossy photos.
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on 16 November 2007
Having grown up with the PET, VIC-20 and the Commodore64 I thought this book would be a dry account of those heady, early days of home computing.
Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by this book's content and format.

A good interview style and insight from the creator of the 6502 microprocessor Chuck Peddle. The candor is refreshing and the un-hyped un-revised view of the technical skills and business acumen of the likes of Messrs Jobs and Gates makes for a very good read. (Microsoft virtually giving away their version of BASIC to every computer manufacturer on the market.)

The frankly scary antics of Jack Tramiel are softened with some personal details that make the ogre more understandable.

The unspoken truth that US companies ship products to the UK and Europe and sell them at vastly inflated prices, just because they can, still hold true today. (Even if it is vehemently denied.)

As a microelectronics engineer I found the (not too technical) description of the chip design cycle at MOS Technology (aka CSG) to be well presented and a real eye opener for someone who now works in the semiconductor industry. How did they manage to manufacture working silicon without the aid of the huge computing power and CAD systems that are used today!?
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on 23 May 2014
Being as it looks like the "The Amiga years" will not appear now, I spent some time hunting out this first print which covers these years, Although in nowhere near the detail. The second version of "A company on the edge" was a fantastic insight in to the early years of computing and commodore ..... without the revisionist history of earlier works. It's a pity that Mr Bagnall won't release the second half but this book at least helps you get the out line of the tragic demise of a company that really did help to put a computer in every home ...... "Computers for the masses, not the classes"

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on 14 April 2008
Generally speaking, this is a fascinating insight into the trials and tribulations of Commodore. Amazing how the company survived at all, given the various people that ended up in control of it, and not a great surprise when it went into bankruptcy.

A couple of niggly points that jar a bit are that it's almost totally US-centric (with only a few mentions of CBM UK, for instance), but moreso that there are numerous grammatical errors throughout the text. This gets a bit annoying if you're pedantic like me!! :-)
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on 5 June 2008
I loved Commodore computers when I was younger and this book is an enjoyable insight into the key people and events in the history of this overlooked company.
That said, I didn't like the way it was written - largely a collection of short, disjointed facts with no real flow and often out of chronological order at inappropriate times.

Worth a punt if you've ever eaten your tea while Manic Miner loads.
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on 9 September 2007
Inspiring insights into how these machines were developed with interviews from the hardware designers and programmers who designed, developed and built them. A brilliant read, and I recommend this to anyone who is interested in the history of computers!
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on 23 December 2006
Having owned some Commodores in the past I thought this would be an interesting reading, boy was I wrong.

Written in a style best described as 'moebiusesque' the story just loop back in on itself times and time again.

It gives some insight into the ruthlessness of the industry as well as some background of the worlds largest softwarecompany.
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