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Author Topic: book review Digital Retro  (Read 1281 times)
Seob
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« on: January 26, 2013, 09:29:00 AM »

I have put up a bookreview of the book Digital Retro. The book is in English but the review is in Dutch. English review down here.
The review can be found at http://www.retrocomputermuseum.nl

Next will be a review of the Konami book i bought at the msx fair.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2013, 03:50:13 PM by Seob » Logged

8 bits of fun
Janzl
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2013, 10:54:23 AM »

Good work! You should translate  Cool
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Seob
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2013, 01:40:23 PM »

When the holiday season is starting I always get the question what I want for Christmas. Always a perfect time to search the internet for a computer / console related book.

This year I choose the book "Digital Retro - the evolution and design of the personal computer" by Gordon Laing.

In this book the history and evolution of the home computer and some consoles is followed from the late 70s to early 90s to the final breakthrough of the IBM personal computer.
This is done using a lot of photo's of all angles of the featured computers, assisted with facts.
Each chapter is describing 1 of the total of 43 systems which are offered in this book.

Every system is described using the same layout throughout the book.
The chapters contain the following topics:
- The history and development of the system
- Company history
- Specifications of the system, including processor, processor speed, memory details, and price at launch in the country of origin.
- Data with name of manufacturer, model name, launch date and country of origin.
- Brief summary of what happened next.
- Description of the available input / output ports.
- Facts

The book starts with a introduction chapter, followed by a chapter with a brief history of the computer form transistor tube to the development of integrated circuits. The last chapter describes  what happened next with the PC after the mid 90's.
The book has a very nice and clean layout, that is used throughout the book.
So this sounds like a perfect book? Of course not.
No book or website is perfect. What are the most notable downsides:
- The  input / output ports are described randomly. Not from left to right or vice versa.
If you're not familiar with the system there is no way of telling what description belongs to what port. In the summation the ports are nicely numbered.  It would have been better if the numbering used for the summation had been used in the photo.
- Not all pictured systems are the systems described. Sometimes there is a different model from the model range shown as an example, instead of the system that is talked about in the chapter. Example: in the chapter about the Commodore Amiga 1000, a Amiga 500 is depicted.
- The following downside is debatable, but when discussing systems, I find some screenshots should be used to display the graphics capability of the system. The book focuses primarily on the evolution of the incompatible home computers to the IBM compatible computer. But because the graphics performance of the system is part of the items talked about, a provided screenshot would have been nice.

These flaws are not of such order that you shouldn't buy the book.
This book beautifully designed and fun to browse trough.
Overall a nice addition to you're bookshelf.

The following systems are featured:
MITS Altair 8800, Commodore PET 2001, Apple II, Atari VCS, Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80, Nascom-1, Sharp MZ-80K, Atari 400/800, Texas Instrumens TI-99/4, Mattel Intellivision, Tangerine Microtan 65, HP-85, Sinclair ZX80, Acorn Atom, Commodore VIC-20, Sinclair ZX81, Osborne 1, IBM PC, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Coleco Vision, GCE/MB Vectrex, Grundy Newbrain, Dragon 32, Jupiter ACE, Compaq Portable, Apple Lisa, Oric 1, Mattel Aquarius, Nintendo Famicom/NES, Acorn Electron, Sony MSX, Appel Macintosh, Sinclair QL, Amstrad CPC-464, IBM PC-AT, Tatung Einstein, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, Amstrad PCW, Sega Master System, Acorn Archimedes and the NeXT Cube.
ISBN 1-904705-39-1
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Janzl
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« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2013, 01:48:42 PM »

That was really great service.. thanks!  Cool
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