Synopses & Reviews
While there have been several histories of the personal computer, well-known technology writer John Markoff has created the first ever to spotlight the unique political and cultural forces that gave rise to this revolutionary technology. Focusing on the period of 1962 through 1975 in the San Francisco Bay Area, where a heady mix of tech industries, radicalism, and readily available drugs flourished, What the Dormouse Said tells the story of the birth of the personal computer through the people, politics, and protest that defined its unique era. Based on interviews with all the major surviving players, Markoff vividly captures the lives and times of those who laid the groundwork for the PC revolution, introducing the reader to such colorful characters as Fred Moore, a teenage antiwar protester who went on to ignite the computer industry, and Cap'n Crunch, who wrote the first word processing software for the IBM PC (EZ Writer) in prison, became a millionaire, and ended up homeless. Both immensely informative and entertaining, What the Dormouse Said promises to appeal to all readers of technology, especially the bestselling The Soul of a New Machine.
While there have been several written histories of the personal computer, a well-known technology writer has created the first ever to spotlight the unique political and cultural forces of the 1960s that gave rise to this revolutionary technology.
Most histories of the personal computer industry focus on technology or business. John Markoff’s landmark book is about the culture and consciousness behind the first PCs—the culture being counter– and the consciousness expanded, sometimes chemically. It’s a brilliant evocation of Stanford, California, in the 1960s and ’70s, where a group of visionaries set out to turn computers into a means for freeing minds and information. In these pages one encounters Ken Kesey and the phone hacker Cap’n Crunch, est and LSD, The Whole Earth Catalog and the Homebrew Computer Lab. What the Dormouse Said is a poignant, funny, and inspiring book by one of the smartest technology writers around.
Groovy Science paints a decidedly different picture of the sixties counterculture by uncovering an unabashed embrace of certain kinds of science and technology. While many rejected science and technology that struck them as hulking, depersonalized, or militarized, theirs was a rejection of Cold War-era missiles and mainframes, not science and technology per se. We see in these pages the long-running annual workshops on quantum physics at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California; aerospace engineers turning their knowledge of high-tech materials to the and#147;short boardand#8221; revolution in surfing; Timothy Learyand#8217;s championing of space colonization as the ultimate and#145;highand#8221;; and midwives redirecting their medical knowledge to launch a home-birth movement. Groovy Science gathers intriguing examples like these from across the physical, biological, and social sciences and charts commonalities across these many domains, highlighting shared trends and themes during one of the most colorful periods of recent American history. The result reveals a much more diverse picture of how Americans sought and found alternative forms of science that resonated with their social and political goals.
About the Author
John Markoff is a senior writer for The New York Times who has coauthored Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier and the bestselling Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, America’s Most Wanted Computer Outlaw.