Friday, January 20, 2006

Soul Of A New (Old) Machine

In 1980, Data General was a fast growing minicomputer manufacturing company poised to take over DEC and possibly IBM with their next generation of Eclipse computers. In 1981, Tracy Kidder released The Soul of a New Machine, a compelling best-selling story of the people and personalities involved in creating that new machine. Today the company no longer exists, but this book is still as good a read as it was 25 years ago.

I first read this in 1981, and it had a profound impact on my career. In fact, it was one of the catalysts that caused me to go into the same industry (I worked for IBM designing systems in the mid 80's). In 2000, Wired Magazine did a profile on Tom West, the improbable hero of the story, and discussed where his career took him after this book, as well as how his perception of those times has changed.

If after reading these you want to explore further, try running the simh emulator and log on to your own Eclipse system and explore their handiwork!