Fire in the Valley

IBM Portable Personal Computer :: Retrocomputi...

Image by br1dotcom via Flickr

Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer, by Paul Frieberger and Michael Swaine

Picking up this classic 25 years after the fact is a worthy reminder of how the PC industry developed. More important, what keeps this work relevant is how it hints at the current ossification of the industry, suggesting that even in the days when the business was driven by the excitement of almost constant innovation, hubris was never far from the surface.

The question that plagues the reader as you plow through the book is whether innovation has died in the PC business because there is nothing left to innovate, or whether business and creeping conservatism has killed the innovation.

Love or hate Apple, it has shaken free the bonds of care and liberated itself to take billion dollar bets on disrupting industries. Yes, vision is important. But having the testicular fortitude to act on your vision is what separates the leaders from the followers.

Reading Fire in the Valley, one is thus struck by how the companies in the industry need to regrow their cojones.

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