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The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder
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The Soul of a New Machine (original 1981; edition 2000)

by Tracy Kidder

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1,819303,844 (4.02)24
Member:neilernst
Title:The Soul of a New Machine
Authors:Tracy Kidder
Info:Back Bay Books (2000), Paperback, 320 pages
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The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder (1981)

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Great for computer and engineering geeks. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
@ start of___ to General

The computer revolution brought with it new methods of getting work done—just look at today's news for reports of hard-driven, highly-motivated young software and online commerce developers who sacrifice evenings and weekends to meet impossible deadlines. His thoughtful, prescient book tells stories of 35-year-old "veteran" engineers hiring recent college graduates and encouraging them to work harder and faster on complex and difficult projects, exploiting the youngsters' ignorance of normal scheduling processes while engendering a new kind of work ethic.
  christinejoseph | Mar 3, 2016 |
I lost interest at around 20% into the book.
  ajlewis2 | Feb 24, 2016 |
The recent tv show "Halt and Catch Fire" made me pick this book up. This is quite different than Kidder's other books but in also very similar because it tells the story of a large group of people working together towards a common goal. The book was published in 1981 but it was amazing how many of the themes remain the same: computers in our everyday lives, the quantization of everything, working with a group on large projects. The technology aspect is also interesting but the real joy is how Kidder describes and elucidates the group dynamics of the company. ( )
  pbirch01 | Nov 27, 2015 |
I probably first read this twenty five years ago, at a time when I had an interest in the IT trade. Since then, when I see a copy going cheap I pick it up to give it as a gift to some young geek. Now, as then, it has a certain charm and capacity to put some serious perspective around what is usually a very narrowly focused business.

Others have written nearly everything that needs to be said about this book. It's best to remember it's not a tech book written about building technology, but essentially it's a journalist's story about technology. It's interesting to read it alongside Kidder's other book-length investigations. You begin to get a sense of his talent to get inside other people's passions, and appreciate what good journalism is about.

It's a pity the edition I have isn't illustrated. For those who want to see what they're reading about there is an excellent site specializing in old Data General equipment, titled rather reverently, The Soul of a Great Machine. As a bonus, there's some photos there of the team that built the MV/8000. ( )
  nandadevi | Oct 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
"The Soul of a New Machine is first of all a good story, but beyond the narrative, or rather woven into it, is the computer itself, described physically, mechanically and conceptually. The descriptive passages will not ''explain'' computers to the average reader (at least they did not significantly increase my own very superficial knowledge), but they give a feeling, a flavor, that adds to one's understanding - as broadly, or even poetically, defined."
 
this is from a retrospective review of the book, nearly twenty years after its publication.

December, 2000

"More than a simple catalog of events or stale corporate history, Soul lays bare the life of the modern engineer - the egghead toiling and tinkering in the basement, forsaking a social life for a technical one."
 
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ISBN 0140062491 is for The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder. Amazon has the title and author for the film "Norma Jean" by Ted Jordan, but the cover for Tracy Kidder's book.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316491977, Paperback)

The computer revolution brought with it new methods of getting work done--just look at today's news for reports of hard-driven, highly-motivated young software and online commerce developers who sacrifice evenings and weekends to meet impossible deadlines. Tracy Kidder got a preview of this world in the late 1970s when he observed the engineers of Data General design and build a new 32-bit minicomputer in just one year. His thoughtful, prescient book, The Soul of a New Machine, tells stories of 35-year-old "veteran" engineers hiring recent college graduates and encouraging them to work harder and faster on complex and difficult projects, exploiting the youngsters' ignorance of normal scheduling processes while engendering a new kind of work ethic.

These days, we are used to the "total commitment" philosophy of managing technical creation, but Kidder was surprised and even a little alarmed at the obsessions and compulsions he found. From in-house political struggles to workers being permitted to tease management to marathon 24-hour work sessions, The Soul of a New Machine explores concepts that already seem familiar, even old-hat, less than 20 years later. Kidder plainly admires his subjects; while he admits to hopeless confusion about their work, he finds their dedication heroic. The reader wonders, though, what will become of it all, now and in the future. --Rob Lightner

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:41 -0400)

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