I recall rather vividly the moment that I was first made aware of its existence. A co-workers sent me alink to a pre-publication review of it from The Register one morning a couple of months ago. What item of mystery could I be speaking of? Gordon Laing’s Digital Retro, a 192-page “coffee table book” of retro computing goodness, and one of the best finds I’ve come across in years. Within, the author takes a detailed look at 40 personal computers introduced across the 80’s, accounting the stories of the people behind them, the details of their creation, and…in most cases…the reasons for their demise. Each profile contains a number of vivid, color photographs of the machine in question as well as interesting, little known trivia gems. From the back cover:
- Compatibility? Forget it! Each of these computers was its own machine and had no intention of talking to anything else. The same could be said of their owners, in fact, who passionately defended their machines with a belief that verged on the religious.
This book tells the story behind 40 classic home computers of an infamous decade, from the dreams and inspiration, through passionate inventors and corporate power struggles, to their final inevitable demise. It takes a detailed look at every important computer from the start of the home computer revolution with the MITS Altair, to the NeXT cube, pehaps the last serious challenger in the personal computer marketplace. In the thirteen years between the launch of those systems, there has never been a more frenetic period of technical advance, refinement, and marketing, and this book covers all the important steps made on both sides of the Atlantic. Whether it’s the miniaturization of the Sinclair machines, the gaming prowess of the Amiga, or the fermenting war between Apple Computer, “Big Blue,” and “the cloners,” we’ve got it covered. Digital Retro is an essential read for anyone who owned a home computer in the Eighties.
And how! Being a retro computing nut, this book is truly a “too good to be true” item for me and I really can’t recommend it enough. If you ever felt the pain of sore palms from over-using your 5.25″ disk notcher, or sprained your index finger from Speccy home-taping, you’ve got to grab a copy of this book.