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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smell the solder
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...
Published on 26 Nov 2004 by Cinemascope

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but lacking depth
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...
Published on 1 April 2006 by A. Wilson


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smell the solder, 26 Nov 2004
By 
Cinemascope (On your PC screen) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer (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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent purchase., 31 Oct 2004
By 
D. C. Minter (London, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer (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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Digital Retro, 22 Oct 2004
By 
G.P. Cole (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer (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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back To The Future, 11 Oct 2004
By A Customer
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This review is from: Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer (Paperback)
'Computer World. Computer World. Computer World' sang Kratwerk in 1981, and they weren't kidding. In these Wintel-dominated times it's easy to take the Internet, ludicrous processing power, massive hard disk capacities and plug 'n' play connectivity for granted. Back in the day, however, things were very different. Gordon Laing's meticulously researched, elegantly designed homage fills a yawning gap in the bookshelves of computer afficionados and industrial design fetishists alike. With the benefit of a quarter of a century's hindsight, it's all too easy to poke fun at the often idiosyncratic and sometimes misplaced efforts of yesterday's hardware and software pioneers. Laing, however, treats his subjects with the reverence they deserve. Studded with fascinating insights gleaned through interviews with many of the industry's true innovators, Laing's authoritative survey rekindles happy memories of a more innocent era - one where computing was the domain of enthusiastic hobbyists rather than the commoditised behemoth it is today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, 5 May 2006
This review is from: Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer (Paperback)
This is s real high quality book with beautiful images, i wasn't fortunate enough to live when these machines were the dominant computers but it was still worth the read.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but lacking depth, 1 April 2006
By 
A. Wilson (Lincolnshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic trip down memory lane, but some classic machines missing., 10 Feb 2011
By 
Peter Jones (Crawley, West Sussex. United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer (Paperback)
This is my first review in 10 years of buying from Amazon. This book is a real classic. Well presented, and with lovely photographs and content. A real coffee table book for the enthusiast. My only gripe is that some classic UK machines are missing. Where is the Memotech MTX 512, Sord CGL M5, Enterprise 128, and Sam Coupe. I know they have limited space but these should be in there as UK machines.

Peter Jones
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glorious walk through memory lane, 29 Dec 2009
By 
Thomas K. Johnston (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer (Paperback)
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet memories, 19 Oct 2004
By 
Simon Rockman - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer (Paperback)
Computers got a bit boring after 1990. By then Intel and Microsoft were dictating the future, new versions of windows, faster versions of the same chips.
This is a book set before that time. The pioneer days of computers when 'Gates' was a word prefixed with the word 'Logic' and not 'Bill'. When programmers knew what a clock cycle was and could wield a soldering iron.
Gordon Laing tracked down the creators of the computers that stretched imaginations and upon which a whole new industry was born. In some ways this book is the credits list for that age, so if names like Jay Miner, Adam Osborne, Steve Furber or Shiraz Shivji don't mean anything to you they should and you should get this book to find out why.
It's beautifully designed and laid out too, which makes it great to read but means it's not very commuter train friendly.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly superb - geek heaven!, 22 Nov 2004
By 
T. Allen - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer (Paperback)
It's like someone wrote a book just for me... the all new photography is stunning (pity they had to use substitutes for a couple but I guess it's getting harder to track them down) and there's just enough info to satisfy you. I highly recommend this to anyone with geeky tendencies.
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