Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolutio by Steven Levy (1985)
Steven Levy's book covers hacker history from the late fifties to the early eighties. Levy captures the passion of these young men for the computer. He distills for the layman the adventure of programming as few have. Particularly in parts 1 and 2.
This book is however marred by Levy's lack of computer knowledge coupled with apparently shoddy research (several key program names are misspelled). This is not serious, but his tendency to loose track of the subject matter, spending too much time writing about various CS types or suits detracts from an otherwise excellent book.
This is a wonderful book on hacking and hackers, be they the TMRC TX-0 Aficionados, wirehead hardware junkies, or the home-computer game hackers of the eighties. I would strongly recommend this title to computer wonks and laymen alike....Continua
This book tells a story, or rather many many different stories, of hackers of every kind, from the distant origins at MIT to the Homebrew Computer Club to the early game companies of the eighties. If you are interested in the history of computing, this is for you! If you are looking for stories about *crackers* (people who break into computers where they shouldn't be), then you don't want this book....Continua
The book published in 1980s covers the early years of hacking from 1958 to 1983. The book is divided into 4 parts:
1. True Hackers: The first known hackers at MIT AI Lab who played with the rudimentary hardware of the time and coded on punch cards. Includes Marvin Minsky, Greenblatt, Samson, Steve Russell, Stew Nelson and others. Except for Minsky, I hadn't even heard the other names before. The significant creations of this era include the Hacker Ethic, Lisp, Spacewar and LIFE.
2. Hardware Hackers: Soon after, a hardware hacking community started on the West Coast around the Homebrew Computer Club. Familiar names start appearing from this period. Steve "The Wiz" Wozniak's brilliant hardware designs for Apple and Bill Gates' ALTAIR BASIC catch the limelight. In this period, Apple grows from a garage venture to a multi-million dollar company which brings computing into homes.
3. Game Hackers: After home computers go mainstream starts the craze of computer games. Sierra On-Line and Brøderbund are the main companies of this time (remember that this is way before Doom and its progeny appeared).
4. The Last Of The True Hackers: Mostly centers around RMS who rues how the Hacker Ethic which started at MIT got lost in all the commercialization of computers. Since the book was published in 1984, it closes with this as the end of hacking. Little did the author know about what was to follow once the Internet became accessible!
The book is well researched and detailed. It can get a bit verbose though. There is so much computer history I hadn't even heard about that it was worth reading just for that. Though the book is completely non-fictional, the narration reads like a suspense novel, so it's not boring at all. Chapters 1 and 2 of the book are available under Project Gutenberg. Recommended reading....Continua