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Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution Paperback – 31 Jan 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Paperback, 31 Jan 2002
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (31 Jan. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141000511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141000510
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2.7 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 903,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Chief Technology writer at 'Newsweek' and a regular contributer to numerous publications including 'Macworld' and 'Wired'.

Author of CRYPTO.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If your into computing then this book is a "must read". As much as is possible it turns the rather boring subject of computing history into a good read. It describes all the periods , people and moments from computing history in detail and gives the reasoning ( dare is say - logic ) behind how we ended up with computing as it is today.
The only gripe that could be aimed at this book is that it is completely US orientated. To read this book without any prior knowledge would leave you with the impression that the computer "revolution" started and remains the sole property of the US.
Whilst in a lot of cases this is true , particularly in the area of hardware , the author did take a rather blinkered view when he covered the subject of computer games which doesn't do justice to the UK gaming companies who were ( and still are ) every bit as important as our US cousins.
The bottom line though is that its a brilliant book , one i would recommend to anyone who is nerdy enough to want to know the history of modern day computing.
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Format: Paperback
A hack: a neat or smart way of fixing or implementing something. This definition was in use in MIT in the late fifties in the MIT Tech Railroad Club where young engineers would devise ways of controlling their large model layout. Also in MIT were some of the first large computers and these young men (pretty exclusively so) were drawn to these behemoths like bugs to a flame. Hours were spent writing and debugging code. It wasn't easy going at the start as some of these machines had no i/o devices such as monitors, but these young men were bitten by the bug and became devoted to the cause.
The first section of the book describes the rise of the original computer hacker, and the Hacker Ethos that came with it. Software was free to all, and if you make an improvement to someone elses code, you were welcome to do so. But these young people were a priviledged few as hacking was limited to those with access to these college machines.
In the second part of the book, based mainly in the seventies, we see hacking being applied to hardware and the creation of the first home computers. The first was the Altair, which had no keyboard, but spread like wildfire. People spent ages writing programs for it and explored all it's possibilities. It's here that we meet Bill Gates, a young programmer asked to write a BASIC compiler for the machine. The hacker ethos of software being free for all didn't sit well with Mr. Gates and he wrote a letter to a popular computing magazine at the time, explaining that since he wrote the code, wasn't he entitled to some payment. Mr Gates doesn't really appear again, but that small glimpse of him seems so true.
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By A Customer on 21 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
I have to agree with the previous reviewer. This is an absolute brilliant book and once I started reading I literally could not put it down and so far I have not encountered this feeling with any other book. I have also re-read it several times and whilst computer nerds will it enjoy it the most I can recommend it to anyone with even the minimal of interest in computers. PS If you are a nerd buy two! One 'good' copy and one you can just keep reading and lend out to friends.
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Format: Paperback
Owner of the previous edition, I was maybe expecting too much for the 25th anniversary edition... The original one is really a great book showing the computer history and especially the beginning of the video games industry. The hacker movement is also clearly defined and explained the importance of breaking the boundaries in computer science. But if you are already the owner of the previous edition, you don't really need to purchase the anniversary edition... as this is just 20 pages of 25-years after without too much new advancement. At the end, the quality of this book resides in its ability to be still very good after 25 years.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is now a classic, I read it in the early nineties first and this is an updated version.
It follows various eras of computing the early pioneers in the fifties labs (Cambridge, Boston), the Homebrew era in Northern California and finally home games programming in the 80s. My favourite era is the homebrew one that led to Apple computers.
The writing is consistently entertaining and there's a lot of historical detail. I reread this on my kindle recently and enjoyed it the second time.
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Format: Paperback
When looking for a fantastic read one does not immediately jump to the computer history section, thank Levy for exceptions.
Stephen Levy, a gifted author and journalist, leads the reader on a poignant journey through an age where computing still conjured up images of 6 foot computer terminals explored studiously by social outcasts. Levy has vibrantly fleshed out each of these leading characters and probably shined personality into historical figures who otherwise may have forever remained nameless geniuses.
As much a classic as any commentary in the past 40years, assuredly to be on class reading lists in the future... so get it before your Grand-kids do!
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