Computer History Bibliography

Mostly for myself, this is an index of books that cover topics broadly connected to the history of the computing profession.

Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet (Taylor Lorenz)

Covers social media, focusing on the rise of influencers.

The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture (Brian Dear)

Narrow focus on the PLATO system, mostly as a microcosom.

Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley (Emily Chang)

Focuses on SV culture in the aughts.

The Secret History of Mac Gaming (Richard Moss)

Game publishers and developers in the Mac scene in the 80s and 90s. Good coverage of Ambrosia, Myst.

The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media

Focuses on BBSs but stretches as far back as (and relates to) Ham radio

Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software

Covers open source software production in the Aughts. An update on the dreams you may have heard in Cathedral And The Bazzare and Stallman’s Essays; where the rubber meets the road.

Sid Meier’s Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games

(My review) PC game production in the 80s and 90s, autobio by a luminary.

Uncanny Valley

Low-level SV worker’s eye view. Covers the 10s.

The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage

Classic story of tradecraft in the time sharing era.

Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology

Incisive autobiography of a programmer. Shares some essays with her other book.

From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism

(My review) Traces the lines between the utopian counterculture ideas and rhetoric and the way people thought about the internet.

Palo Alto (Malcom Harris)

Takes CtoC further. Historical analysis of SV in the context of the gold rush. Good coverage of the hardware side, especially Fairchild Semi.

Hackers: Heroes of the computer revolution (Steven Leavy)

Famous account that helped immortalize the ‘other’ term for hacker.

The Well (Katie Hafner)

(My review) Focuses on a famous California BBS as a microcosom of online culture.

New Hacker’s Dictionary/Jargon File (Steele)

A time capsule.

The Soul of a New Machine (Tracy Kidder)

Monumental piece of journalism. Covers Data General, a minicomputer manufacturer.

Show Stopper! (Zachary Pascal)

Covers the creation of Windows NT.

DEC Is Dead, Long live DEC (Edgar H. Schein with Paul J. Kampas, Michael M. Sonduck, Peter S. Delisi)

(My Review) Covers Digital, speculates on the factors leading to its downfall.

Cyberselfish (Paulina Borsook)

(my review) Gonzo review of the politics of SV in the 90s, with a very good insider review of early Wired magazine.

Sandworm (Andy Greenberg)

(My review) Covers cybersecurity in the 00s and 10s.

Attack of the 50 foot Blockchain (David Gerard)
Covers the crypto scene in the Aughts and 2000s.

It Came from Something Awful (Dale Beran)

Focuses on online culture in the aughts and into the 10s.

Shareware Heroes (Richard Moss)

PC Software industry, 80s and 90s.

Masters Of Doom (David Kushner)

Covers Id Software from its inception through the creation of Quake, though coverage of course focuses on Doom, their legacy-defining hit.

Where Wizards Stay Up Late

Classic account of the journey from Arpanet to TCP/IP

Weaving The Web

Tim Brenners Lee’s account of the creation of the web

Additional Resources

  • HOPL Conferences