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December 2, 2004

"Revolution in the Valley": The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac was Made

Sebastopol, CA--Mac users tend to be passionate about their machines. And why not? From the start, it's been special. It was the first computer to smile at you when you'd boot it up. More significantly, its innovative user interface has influenced the direction of software development on all platforms since it first appeared. Granted, it's had some highs and lows over the years, but as a computer, it's undeniably great. Insanely great. And equally great is the story of how the Mac came into being. Told by Andy Hertzfeld, co-creator of the Mac, Revolution in the Valley (O'Reilly, US $24.95, hardcover) takes readers into the hallways and backrooms of Apple, to where the groundbreaking Macintosh computer was born.

"There are occasionally short windows in time when incredibly important things get invented that shape the lives of humans for hundreds of years," writes Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, in his foreword to the book. "The development of the Macintosh computer was one of these events. Every computer today is basically a Macintosh, a very different type of computer from those that preceded it. Who developed this revolutionary computer? What motivated them?"

Revolution in the Valley answers these questions as it traces the development of the Macintosh, from its inception as an underground skunkworks project in 1979 to its triumphant introduction in 1984 and beyond. The stories in the book come on good authority: Hertzfeld, a core member of the team that built the Macintosh system software and a key creator of is radical user interface, was one of the chosen few who worked on the project with Steve Jobs. You might call him the ultimate insider.

When Revolution in the Valley begins, Hertzfeld is working on Apple's first attempt at a low-cost, consumer-oriented computer: the Apple II. He notices that Steve Jobs is luring some of the company's most brilliant innovators to work on a tiny research effort--the Macintosh. Hertzfeld manages to make his way onto the Macintosh research team, and the rest is history.

"Most users today have never experienced what computing was like before the GUI," says Hertzfeld. "The Macintosh became very successful, although not quite the way we imagined. Today, the GUI we pioneered is ubiquitous, used by hundreds of millions of people every day, though most experience it through non-Apple platforms."

Through period photos (many published for the first time here), original sketches, and Hertzfeld's vivid firsthand accounts, Revolution in the Valley reveals what it was like to be there at the birth of the personal computer revolution. The story comes to life through the book's portrait of the talented and often eccentric characters who made up the Macintosh team.

"It's chilling to recall how this cast of young and inexperienced people who cared more than anything about doing great things created what is perhaps the key technology of our lives," Wozniak adds in his foreword. "Their own words and images take me back to those rare days when the rules of innovation were guided by internal rewards, and not by money." Now, more than twenty years later, millions of people benefit from the technological achievements of this brilliant and determined group of people.

Additional Resources:

Revolution in the Valley
Andy Hertzfeld
ISBN: 0-596-00719-1, 291 pages, hardcover, $24.95 US, $36.95 CA
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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