This is a fantastic history of what we currently think of as the tech industry. Walter Isaacson’s history is extremely well written and eminently entertaining. As a nerdy kid who grew up loving computers in the late 70’s and throughout the 80’s, I had heard some of these stories before in part, but in each substory covered, Isaacson dives much deeper.
Starting with the stories of Charles Babbage (inventor of the Difference Engine and Analytical Engine) and Lady Ada (the first programmer, Mr. Isaacson follows the progression of the development of the computer. Alan Turing’s entertaining yet tragic story is covered in detail as are his counterparts across the pond in America who are working on similar breakthroughs. The creation of Eniac and it’s role in the Cold War. The early history of the personal computer is covered in detail. The foundations of Intel and the 8008 processor. Xerox Parc being 15 years ahead of their time (probably more). Hewlett and Packard starting up their company in a garage. The home-brew computer club. Pre-Apple computers. Apple computer’s garage start up with Woz and Jobs. The foundation of Microsoft with Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer. There’s even a bit of coverage of the evolution of the internet from early ARPAnet to BBSes and Compuserve to AOL and then the web in general. This is pretty much a skim discussion as you could do whole books on most of these things. Still, it helps bring it all together and makes for a pretty satisfying end.