The Soul of a New Machine

By Tracy Kidder,

Book cover of The Soul of a New Machine

Book description

Tracy Kidder's "riveting" story of one company's efforts to bring a new microcomputer to market won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and has become essential reading for understanding the history of the American tech industry.

Computers have changed since 1981 when The Soul of a New…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Soul of a New Machine as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Kidder’s book follows the lives of a group of brilliant, funny, and maniacally driven entrepreneurs as they race to get their new minicomputer, the “Data General Eclipse MV/8000,” to market.

The technology is totally obsolete – who under the age of 40 has heard of a minicomputer? – but the story is somehow timeless. The book won the Pulitzer and is still a fun and riveting tale of what it takes to get a product to market on an ever-changing technological frontier.

It feels a little weird to recommend a book written forty-something years ago about the development of a computer you’ve never heard of… but this book does a better job than any book I’ve ever read of capturing how it feels to be part of an engineering team completely committed to doing something great.

It’s hard for muggles to understand why engineers get so passionate about their projects, but this book gets it. I felt seen.

Tracy kidder‘s book from 1981 gives us an exquisitely detailed story of the human technical and organizational efforts that developed a new computer. This is one of the best and most accurate descriptions of technical product development. Kidder gives us an intimate view of the personalities, conflicts, and decisions that drove a team toward its ultimate goal.

Having lived through similar experiences, Kidder’s work was exceptionally enlightening for me.

From Grant's list on disillusionment and transformation.

This is one of my cherished books! I was introduced to it in the late 1980s by a college classmate. Reading it affirmed my aspirations: a career in the computer industry. The book revolves around Tom West, a computer engineering manager at Data General in the 1970s. West is a highly competent and determined technical manager. He needed to be in order to navigate the pressures of creating a brand-new computer out of thin air.

The book conveys what a computer company feels like. The maze of machines strewn in a lab. The concentration required to debug a hardware problem.…

From Rick's list on working in the computer industry.

Originally published in 1981 and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, Kidder’s book takes readers on a journey into what was, for most of us, terra incognita: the race to design a new, cutting-edge minicomputer known as the Eclipse MV/8000. Given sustained access to the engineering and marketing teams at Data General, a now-defunct Massachusetts company, Kidder chronicles the challenges, rivalries, setbacks and triumphs that their formidable task entailed, in a lyrical narrative that makes the art of creating a small(ish) computer from scratch compulsively readable and propulsively accessible.

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