Dan Bricklin's Web Site: www.bricklin.com
The web sites of some of the early PC pioneers and other computer people:
Bob Frankston (www.frankston.com)
Bob co-founded Software Arts with me, and wrote most of the code for the original VisiCalc. He also pioneered PC email when at Lotus, and connectivity to the Internet in the home when at Microsoft. This web site includes some of his writings.
David Reed (www.reed.com/dpr.html)
David was a classmate of mine at MIT, later becoming a professor. He joined Bob and myself at Software Arts, moving on to Lotus and then Interval Research. He is now consulting in the Boston area. This web site includes some of his writings, book recommendations, and more.
Steve Wozniak (www.woz.org)
Steve co-founded Apple Computer with Steve Jobs. This web site explains some of the other things he's done since, including teach school kids and other worthy endeavors. He also has links to people's sites and a "WozCam" you can control.
Mitch Kapor (www.kei.com/homepages/mkapor/)
Mitch founded Lotus Development Corporation, and is best known as the designer, and project lead, of the 1-2-3 program. 1-2-3 brought personal computers into mainstream businesses. He co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and is currently doing venture capital work.
Bill Gates (www.microsoft.com/billgates/)
The "official" homepage on Microsoft's web site. (I assume all visitors to this web site know generally who Bill is.)
Paul Allen (www.paulallen.com)
Paul co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, and has gone on to invest in, and influence, other companies and technologies.
Doug Engelbart (www.bootstrap.org)
Dr. Engelbart is best known for his pioneering work on hypermedia and collaboration starting in the 1960s, and for the invention of the computer mouse. He founded The Bootstrap Institute where he now works.
Ted Nelson (www.sfc.keio.ac.jp/~ted/)
Ted is best known for coining the terms "hypertext" and "hypermedia" in the mid-1960s, the book "Computer Lib/Dream Machines" (I still have my copy!), and Project Xanadu. He and his work have inspired many of us over the years.
Dottie Hall (www.dottiehall.com)
Dottie was one of the co-founders, along with me, Vern Raburn, and Tom Byers, of Slate Corporation. Her experience in the PC business goes way back, and she was the "Hall" in Symantec's "Turner-Hall" subsidiary.
Heidi Roizen (www.roizen.com/heidi/)
Heidi was CEO of T/Maker, the producer of another early numeric calculating program, and served on the board of the Software Publishers Association around the same time I did. She has continued for years as a spokesperson for our industry.
Dave Winer (dave.editthispage.com/myNameIsDaveWiner)
Dave is president of UserLand Software, a web tools developer based in Palo Alto, CA. UserLand makes Frontier, a powerful scripting and database environment for the Mac OS and Windows. In late 1994, Winer started DaveNet, a popular commentary channel, distributed via electronic mail and thru the worldwide web. A software industry veteran that I've known since 1979, Winer also produced award-winning commercial software hits at Living Videotext, including ThinkTank, Ready and MORE. Living Videotext merged with Symantec in 1987. In 1997 he was chosen as a Seybold Fellow for his pioneering work in web-based publishing systems.
Dennis Ritchie (www.cs.bell-labs.com/~dmr)
Dennis is known as the author of the C language and a member of the original Unix development team with Ken Thompson. This is his web site, with lots of history links, too.
These on-line periodicals cover topics of interest to computer people like me:
Tasty Bits from the Technology Front by Keith Dawson. Keith publishes a weekly digest of issues related to the Internet, computers, and communications. He covers privacy, domain name issues (serious and fun), and the new "urban legends" and more. Great reading for techies.
Jakob Nielsen's useit.com (www.useit.com)
Jakob Nielsen is a principal of the Nielsen Norman Group, a user experience consultancy. Until July 1998 he was a Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer and their Web usability guru. He writes a biweekly Alertbox column on Web usability. The site includes some of his writings and links to other sites, books, etc.
Scripting News (www.scripting.com)
Dave Winer's site, including his DaveNet column. The site home page has a reverse-chronological list of news items Dave finds of interest. Some of them relate to interesting studies and articles related to all sorts of computer topics; many are related to his Frontier product (a content management/publishing system built around an object database, scripting, outline, and multi-tasking runtime). I point to this on my Good Documents web site because this is a real living site, updated often a few times a day, that has lots of content, and is an example of a type of resource one might need on an Intranet (devoted to your company's area, of course).
Other Web Sites
Good Documents (www.gooddocuments.com)
A web-site that discusses how to create good business documents in the linked, on-screen environment of Intranets and the Internet. I started and wrote most of this web site. I try to follow some of its techniques on this web site.
Historic software sites (in the History section of this web site)
Web sites devoted to old software.
Web Photo Journals (www.webphotojournals.com)
A web-site that discusses telling stories in pictures and words, especially for personal communication. I started and wrote most of this web site. Inspired by what I learned creating the Photo Albums on this web site and personally, as well as learning from Dana Atchley and the Digital Storytelling Festival.
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These are some books that engineers and others may find of interest. I liked them.
The Amazon.com links are for those that like to read reviews or purchase there. We provide this in association with Amazon.com. Software Garden gets a small percentage of your payment if you purchase after following the link. Thank you for helping support this web site when you purchase the books that way!
The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers
by Tom Standage
The telegraph represented the first time that humans could communicate well at great distances faster than they could get there by person. This book chronicles that development and its introduction into society, comparing and contrasting it to today's Internet.
Here's what I wrote on Amazon about this book:
Great lesson on the introduction of new technology:
This book is a must read for people interested in the introduction of new technology. As the inventor of new technology (including VisiCalc, the PC spreadsheet) I marveled at the parallels with the adoption of the "old" technology of the telegraph. This story really puts the march of new things in perspective.
As an avid reader of the books by Henry Petroski (whose recommendation of this book appears on the back cover), I love anecdotes that help us learn how new technology advances and is assimilated by the general public. This book is full of such insights. Retelling these stories helps us in R&D explain to others how what they may think at first is a seemingly useless invention can actually change the world once its benefits are understood.
This book also shows the opposite, when people expect too much, reminding us to help restrain those that think there is more than is really there. (As Bill Gates reminded people, I believe, at the launch of Windows 95, it doesn't cure diseases, though you'd think so from the hoopla.) This book lets us give direct examples from the 1800's that seem obvious in hindsight.
The author, Tom Standage, appeared on the PBS radio program Fresh Air with Terry Gross on WHYY, Philadelphia, on February 22, 1999. The radio program has low speed and high speed RealAudio of that interview on their web site.
Design Paradigms: Case Histories of Error and Judgment in Engineering
by Henry Petroski
Petroski presents several general paradigms of error, such as errors in conceptual design, errors related to scale in size, errors in logic, success masking failure, and others. To quote from the Preface: "This book argues for a more pervasive use of historical case studies in the engineering curriculum." "The objective of this book is not only to present a model for explaining how errors are introduced into the design process but also to provide a means by which practicing designers may avoid making similar errors in their own designs." Many of the cases he presents come from Galileo's writings, emphasizing Petroski's feeling of the timelessness of these paradigms. This is an organized way of presenting some of the principles that come out in his book "To Engineer is Human".
To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design
by Henry Petroski
This book, which has a picture of the Tacoma Narrows bridge collapsing and the Challenger in flight on its cover, discusses several well-known engineering failures. It goes into detail about how the failures were analyzed and what we can learn from them.
The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
by Clayton M. Christensen
This book discusses how companies that listen carefully to their customers often miss out on new technologies that will eventually displace their current products. I especially liked the rigor with which the author proves his points. A fascinating book, and one that people trying to create innovative products should read. This book was recommended to me by my friends David Reed (his book list) and Bob Frankston.
[Posted: 2/27/99; link to Amazon]
Wizards and Their Wonders: Portraits in Computing
by Christopher Morgan, Louis Fabian Bachrach (Photographer)
From the flap:
"...a tribute by The Computer Museum and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to the many people who made the computer come alive in this century...the book concentrates on living innovators in computing, comprising: the Inventors, who created the work; the Entrepreneurs, who drove the work; the Communicators, who shaped the work; and the Venture Capitalists, who funded the work."
There are about 200 people included, with a one paragraph description of who they are next to a full-page photo. There are people whose 1990's work is best know, like Marc Andreessen (Netscape) and Tim Berners-Lee (WWW), as well as people from earlier times, like John Backus who led the team at IBM that developed FORTRAN in 1957 and Jay Forrester who led the development of the Whirlwind I in the late 1940's and later magnetic core memory. Others shown include John Lassetter (Pixar), Scott Cook (Intuit), Heidi Roizen (T/Maker), Regis McKenna (Apple, etc., PR), and Ben Rosen (Compaq, Lotus, etc.).
Having one photographer take all of the pictures with the subjects free to pose any way they wanted, wearing whatever they wanted, lets this book bring you some of the personality behind the people: Gordon Bell (DEC) in a cowboy hat, Scott Cook (Intuit) in a button-down shirt and swimsuit, Alan Kay (Xerox PARC) in front of the pipe organ in his home, Thomas Kurtz (Basic) standing in front of a painting of himself and John Kemeny (co-creator of Basic), me in flannel shirt and jeans, etc.
This is a must for every computer history library.
[Posted: 3/20/99; link to Amazon]
The Psychology of Everyday Things
by Don Norman
This is a classic book that helps you recognize unusable designs. The book mainly covers household and other common objects, though it does try to talk about computers a bit. This book is best where it describes problems, especially about everyday things like doors. An example is the problem with designing burner controls on an electric stove so that you know without thinking which control goes to which burner and its state.
People have found this a great book to read with children to introduce them to good product design and critical thinking. If you read this book to/with your kids they will remember it and make reference to it.
This is a book for all sorts of people, not just techies. Non-computer people I've recommended this book to have gone out of their way to thank me. If you've gotten this far on on my web site and haven't read this book already, you are clearly curious enough to enjoy this book very much.
[Posted: 7/11/99; link to Amazon]
by Michael Schrage
This is a book about prototyping and its role in innovation. It devotes an entire chapter to the spreadsheet. Read my review.
[Posted: 4/24/00; link to Amazon]
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