Top critical review
More about personalities and company politics than computers
on June 30, 1999
You have to get past the first 70 pages or so where the author tediously describes how the PARC people were hired, in order to get to the good stuff. Then the author never quite leaves alone the personality clashes and company politics. Not that that stuff's not interesting; it is! And the PARC story seems to indicate that such interpersonal dynamics make or break some companies. But it was tiresome. I had a very hard time starting this book because of the people crap, and then I thought the technology stuff was weak and thinly covered. There were glimmers of interesting comments about software and hardware, such as Smalltalk's role and the birth of the laser printer. But the book could have lost 100 pages and been a better read. I think the author had a point to prove about how people often can't work together. Surprise, surprise! I've known this for years. To make this more palatable, the author should have included some photos. I had to look in "Nerds 2.0.1" for good photos of Bob Taylor. Somehow, just seeing his face made the whole drama a bit more real and a bit more human... I don't know why. Maybe it was because I had this really weird (and totally untrue) image of who and what he was from Hiltzik's description. After seeing his picture, I felt more sympathetic. On another matter, I thought Hiltzik's depiction of the Steve Job's "raid" on PARC was fascinating and I applaud his scrupulous efforts to finding out the real truth, but in the end saying most of this seems to be lost in myth.