April 15th 2011

In the Beginning …Was the Command Line. Neal Stephenson.

In the Beginning... Was the Command Line

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In the Beginning …Was the Command Line. Neal Stephenson.1999.ISBN 0380815931. Stephenson, often called the Hacker Hemingway, is noteworthy for his well written science fiction these days. However this little book is a treasure.  ( I found it on a dusty shelf in the local Mexican library)  It relates to the computer industry in 1999, when Microsoft was bad, Apple was good and Linux was an upstart.  This was after the time of The Cathedral and the Bazaar . What sets the book apart is his gift for metaphor and analysis of how things came to be.   Just a few pearls that you can glean.Microsoft grew with out any real need to address `the user interface` because it made good financial sense to do so. Apple went for the walled garden because it had to remain a hardware company and this took on a certain mindset. MSoft as owning huge mindshare did not have to write drivers for all the peripherals ( the manufacturers did that for free) .  Both vendors were facing massive rewrites to their OS, which were tried in fits and starts, but users were met with lots of buggy software, but the two OS’s could not acknowledge how cludgy the OS’s were. Fascinating to see how things have played out in 11 years, and what residual thinking still prevails from that time.

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