18 book reading list for computer history

from broad strokes to the lore to the stories to the tangents to the UNIX, these are must reads for every hacker.

The tech industry has a bad case of memory loss these days. Luckily, previous generations of the industry (along with journalists and academics) have done a pretty good job of cataloguing and contextualizing our history for us.

If you have any interest in engaging in or interacting with the tech industry, knowing the history gives you the upper hand. With that in mind, here are my picks for the minimum set of volumes you should read, in order to get a general idea of the important bits of computer history.

Rise of the Machines, by Thomas Rid

The Information, by James Gleick

The Devouring Fungus, by Karla Jennings

The New Hacker’s Dictionary, by Eric S. Raymond

Out of Control, by Kevin Kelly

Microserfs, by Douglas Rushkoff

In the Beginning… Was the Command Line, by Neal Stephenson

Man-Made Minds, by M. Mitchell Waldrop

Turing’s Cathedral, by George Dyson

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, by Steven Levy

What the Dormouse Said, by John Markoff

Fire in the Valley, by Michael Swaine and Paul Freiberger

Possiplex, by Theodor Holm Nelson

Weaving the Web, by Tim Berners-Lee

The Idea Factory, by Jon Gertner

Interface Culture, by Stephen Johnson

The Art of Unix Programming, by Eric S. Raymond

The Unix Haters Handbook, by Simson Garfinkel, Daniel Weise, and Steven Strassman

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Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software. http://www.lord-enki.net

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