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In The Beginning...was The Command Line Paperback – Oct 28 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (Oct. 28 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380815931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380815937
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.6 x 1.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #227,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Around the time that Jobs, Wozniak, Gates, and Allen were dreaming up these unlikely schemes, I was a teen living in Ames, Iowa. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 8 2004
Format: Paperback
If you are even vaugely interested in that plastic box you sit in front of 10 hours a day, you must read this.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Uh huh. on Jan. 1 2004
Format: Paperback
basically it's a long Linux rant by someone who, while bright, isn't very deep in his thoughfulness, ability to craft a truly fetching AND sturdy idea, disregards fatal flaws in logic, induction, deduction, and reason.
Too bad.
He's pretty fair writer of fiction though, at least in his ability to create compelling atmospheres- in his fiction he makes the same sort of mistakes he makes in this book.
He *is* honest though- and that's makes him a better fellow than about 90% of the rest of the hacks in this world known as "writers."
Sorry though- this little folio is a awaste of time- just experiment with Linux yourself and see if you like it- ditch all this justification crap in here.
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By M. Collins on July 13 2004
Format: Paperback
Absolutely brilliant book.
"In the Beginning..." cleverly disguises itself as a historical account of the nature of the various software platforms. The real meat is the discussion of GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces), the upsides, the downsides and the tension between GUIs and the lack of GUIs.
One cannot have this type of discussion without touching on the true nature of mankind. And that is exactly what Mr. Stephenson does. If you prefer organic, seemingly "unstructured" access, go with the command prompt. If you prefer popular & "easy" access with all of its shortcomings, hail the GUI. But be careful, as the folks designing the GUIs are in the business of building filters and facades. If, however, you choose no Graphical User Interface whatsoever, you have sworn yourself to great responsibility and to the integrity of the code!
I was mesmerized from the start & totally blown away & surprised by the last 10 pages. I had no idea when I picked it up that this short essay carried such enduring weight.
I recommend it to all humans who thirst for knowledge of the Root.
ps. don't mess with the kernel, it is a good way to crash your system!
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By David Schaich on June 24 2004
Format: Paperback
"In the Beginning... was the Command Line" is that rarest of specimens: a short book written by Neal Stephenson. In truth, "Command Line" isn't really a book. It began its life as an online post, and was only published after the fact. In it, Stephenson sketches out a brief outline of the development of computers - especially personal computers and their operating systems - during the 1980s and '90s. It is a quick and fun read, filled with Stephensonian humor and creative metaphors that both entertain and enlighten.
In the course of "Command Line," Stephenson briefly touches on the basics of programming before moving on to discuss the history of operating systems over the last twenty years. He looks at the main operating systems out there (specifically Mac, Windows, Linux, BeOS), how they evolved, and their attractions and advantages. His main points are that "it is the fate of operating systems to become free" and that Microsoft's commitment to maintaining its own closed operating system will cripple its broader software development activities, much in the way Apple was hurt by its insistence on producing its own hardware. Though not much is developed, there is a lot of interesting food for thought in these few pages.
Stephen works largely through metaphors, and "Command Line" is written for the layperson. Few people should have any difficulty getting through the book, even without computer experience. Amazon's insistence that the book was written "for an audience of coders and hackers" strikes me as bizarre.
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By A Customer on April 19 2004
Format: Paperback
Neal Stephenson may be more widely known for his more serious and fictional works being Cryptonomicron, Snow Crash, Quicksilver and others, but this thought flow essay is an entertaining romp through the history of the Command Prompt and Graphical User Interface. By showing the strengths and weaknesses of each through metaphors and similies, even the least technical people can find humor in this little history; most will even feel pitty for Neal and fellow techs who have been through the last 30 years of computing.
Though most people would feel that the simplest and easiest method is always better, only the least experienced users will agree. There are more tools and control through a Command Prompt then there will ever be using a GUI(Graphica User Interface) and honestly that will never change.
The book is a great read that will keep a little smile on your face then entire time and sometimes even get a giggle. This was fun and entertaining and recomended to anyone that uses a computer.
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Format: Paperback
Romance and image are important to technology, as is interface. From the command line grew a number of applications. This book is an essay on the early history and sociology of the personal computer. The author considers Apple, Microsoft, Linux, and Be, Inc. and makes analogies.
HTML files are just telegrams. The introduction of the Mac started a sort of holy war in the computer world. Even after the introduction of Windows, the underlying differences remained. Microsoft's disregard of aesthetics was discussed at length by Mac users.
Some people think Microsoft is too powerful, others that it is too tacky. Bill Gates did not make Microsoft work by selling the best software or by selling it at the cheapest price. Apple is wedded to harware, Microsoft to its OS, operating system. Perhaps both should jetison these areas. Microsoft is more successful in software applications. The operating systems market is a death trap.
Americans have a preference for mediated experience. Contemporary culture is a two-tiered system. A minority of people run the show. The minority understands how everything works. The OS has become an intellectual labor-saving device. One should, however, be wary. The GUIs, graphic user interfaces, use bad metaphors. For instance, the document is lost forever when the computer crashes. The GUI has become a sort of meta interface for household items and everyday thinking.
Apple created a machine that discouraged hacking. The price had fallen drastically for IBM compatible PCs by the mid nineties, and they could be hacked. Stephenson found that Unix was hard to learn. A sort of acculturation takes place. After the crash of his powerbook and the loss of a large and important file, he sought to use Linux.
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