I was cleaning up the About page and came across Tracy Kidder’s name and the phrase “bag on the side.” The reference is to Kidder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Soul of a New Machine. It’s the story of Data General’s quest to build the Eagle. I have read this book several times since the mid 80’s. As someone who has worked in the computer industry for 20 years, a book like this stirs up memories of the “glory days” of computing. It was a time when nobody but the engineers really understood the machines and even they weren’t entirely certain. I remember working on large, time share systems and debugging problems in the machine room. With the phenomenal computing power available in a laptop, it’s hard to understand the mystique of mainframes from the early days.
Tracy Kidder’s writing is captivating. He creates both the fun and the stress that are familiar to anyone in the technology fields. I would call this a “must read” book. Note: This book has gone through multiple reprints. The original was written in the 1981. The copy I had never made it home, hence the 2000 edition I have now.
Kidder, Tracy. The Soul of a New Machine. Boston: Bay Back Books, 2000.