Found in 10 comments on Hacker News
paganel · 2019-05-07 · Original thread
Not a direct answer to your request, but you may also be interested in this book called “Dreaming in Code” [1] which documents the reasons and the whys of why the Chandler project failed, a book written by some of the people directly involved (if I remember right) and a book that I’ve also heard that is quite excellent (I’ve personally didn’t read it yet even though it has been on my to-read list for quite some tome, I did read though in real time the blog posts of some of the developers working on the project).


shaklee3 · 2018-11-18 · Original thread
If it makes you feel any better, there is a large section of this book dedicated to a team struggling to implement recurring events properly:

Great read, and shows how difficult it was and is to compete with office.

maltalex · 2018-07-11 · Original thread
It's from Dreaming in Code [0] by Scott Rosenberg.


kyo3 · 2018-01-13 · Original thread
There's a really good book, and this is part of the premise. Python is a great language, but I can't see it being viable for large projects. I do want to note that it doesn't say Python was part of problem, but in retrospect it seemed like the project was ahead of its time and the technology wasn't there yet.

jasode · 2017-11-21 · Original thread
>stories about the history of specific software. [...] Does anyone know of other books (physical prints would be preferable to me) in this genre?

The AutoCAD story[1] is interesting to read. Unlike Forethought/PowerPoint, Autodesk was never acquired and stayed independent. A popular excerpt from it is John Walker evaluating 3 different venture capital deals.[2]

The Wordperfect story[3] is interesting. Because their headquarters was in Utah and intertwined in Mormonism, the book mentions several management practices that many would consider strange and oppressive (can't go to dentist during company hours, etc). From a technical perspective, one of the takeaways was their ill-fated decision to stick with assembly language too long instead of using a higher level language like 'C Language'. This affected the time-to-market for new products like the Windows version of Wordperfect. This is eerily similar to FogCreek/FogBugz strategy to stay with their internal proprietary "Wasabi" programming language. That affected their ability to create new features to keep with competitor Atlassian. This doesn't mean companies should always go from low-level to higher-level language for productivity. Google Inc did the opposite: Larry Page wrote first Pagerank system in Java and Python and his first employees rewrote it in lower-level C++ for better cpu & memory utilization of their servers.

The Chandler (personal information manager) story chronicled in the book "Dreaming in Code"[4] is very good. Even though Chandler never got well-known like AutoCAD and Wordperfect, the book lets you see how a lot of smart people can get sidetracked by endless architectural debates which delays the release of usable software. (Basically, the opposite of Eric Ries' Lean Startup where you have a Minimum Viable Product and iterate fast with real customers.) It's also a lesson that having money (Mitch Kapor's generous funding) becomes a handicap. You'd think that not having the pressure of a limited runway and not running out of VC money would empower the developers but that didn't happen. Instead, it just prolonged a lot of software architecture debates. In contrast, when companies are starving and in near-death bankruptcy, it tends to focus the mind very intensely on how to create business value. (E.g. Airbnb's founders selling cereal boxes in order to live another day and build the lodging platform.)





WalterGR · 2016-12-13 · Original thread
The timelessness of the promises made in this specification are very interesting to me.

To me as well. Reading the PDF, it reminds me of WinFS, which I worked on. (Though I don't remember WinFS's collaboration story.)

Dreaming in Code [1] is a great book about Kapor's attempt to build such an open source platform, post-Notes. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in the problem space.


A more idealistic (and younger) version of me would love to help build an open platform...

This is still my dream. :)

ganeumann · 2015-07-07 · Original thread
The most authoritative work is Ceruzzi's A History of Modern Computing ( Because it's written by an academic, not a journalist, it also has a great bibliography and footnotes. Some of the works it cites that are very valuable in themselves, depending on your area of interest, are:

- R. Hodeson, Crystal Fire (on the invention of the transistor),

- T.R. Reid, The Chip (on the IC),

- E.W. Pugh, IBM's 360 and Early 370 Systems, (on the evolution of computer architecture),

Also, as others have mentioned, Soul of a New Machine is awesome.

I feel like you may be asking about computer science, though, not computer hardware. If so, pickings are slim. Two that stand out are:

- S. Rosenberg, Dreaming in Code, (Not really a history of code, just the history of a single project)

- M. Campbell-Kelly, From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog, (which, while not quite as amazing as the others, is the only history of the software industry as a whole I know of.)

bradgessler · 2011-12-13 · Original thread
The story of TM2 reminds me of "Dreaming in Code" (
mindcrime · 2010-12-20 · Original thread
I don't necessarily know of any one book that meets all of your friends requirements, but...

Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine might be good for your friend.

Another good option might be Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold.

Or, how about Coders at Work?

Another one that I have (but haven't had time to read yet) is Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg. It might have something that your friend would find interesting.

Another one that may be inspirational, although it's more about personalities than computer science per-se, would be Steven Levy's Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.

navshaikh · 2009-09-01 · Original thread
Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software

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