Publishing takes time, and with the speed at which the computer industry moves, that makes things get out of date really quickly. People who want to start reading more about technology should take a look at the following titles. They’ve withstood the test of time and should be every bit as important a decade from now as they are today.
1. The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder
Written by a journalist who had seemingly unlimited access to the engineers who were developing the Data General Eclipse MV/8000 minicomputer, this book offers an extremely detailed look at what it takes to bring technology products to the market. Some people look at it as a scathing exposé of how the tech industry overworks people while others call it an inspiration that encouraged them to get into the field. In either case, generations of readers have found that few other books go into this much depth in regard to the construction of one single device.
2. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
News junkies might remember Isaacson as a former CNN executive and the author of books about figures like Albert Einstein. He applied the same journalistic skills he used in those roles to pen this look at a tech industry icon who helped to build the modern mobile space with innovative devices like the iPhone and iPad. Countless industrial automation and cloud-powered communications devices simply wouldn’t exist without Jobs, making this a great starting point for those who want to learn more about the market as a whole.
3. The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll
When an astronomer at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory caught wind of a small accounting error, he had no idea that it was going to balloon into a full-scale chase after an international computer cracking ring. This book gives you an insider’s look at the cat-and-mouse game played by network topology experts. Individual readers will also get an interesting glance at the internal politics that have defined the Unix community since the days of the original Bell System monopoly.
4. Revolution in the Valley by Andy Hertzfeld
Since it was written by one of the co-founders of Radius and General Magic, this book gives a good look at the history of Silicon Valley even though it largely focuses on the exploits of the original Macintosh team. You’ll learn about how the Xerox Star computer pioneered the graphical user interface and the people who were there to make it possible.
5. The Hacker Crackdown by Bruce Sterling
Specialists who are studying to be computer security professionals will often have to read this book, which goes into great detail about the modern civil libertarian movement on the Internet and how a group of online misfits more or less gave birth to the modern web. Perhaps the manner in which this book was released could be more important than the text itself, however. Sterling elected to publish it online, which paved the way for modern web distribution. That’s fitting considering that it focuses on a cast of characters who truly believed that information wanted to be free and holding it behind copyright laws and paywalls was tantamount to committing a mortal sin.