Summary of Fire in the Valley

The Making of the Personal Computer

First Edition: 1984 more...

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Fire in the Valley book summary
The Valley, of course, is Silicon Valley — the California hotbed that gave birth to the personal computer industry. And how? Well, big things from little transistors grow.


8 Overall

7 Applicability

8 Innovation

9 Style


Authors Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine offer the second edition of their extremely popular 1984 chronicle of the birth of the personal computer. They recount how the PC industry began, who fueled its growth and why things happened as they did. The central stories cover the emergence of MITS, IMSAI, Apple, Tandy and Microsoft. This second edition adds the development and maturation of the hardware and software industries. Apple and Microsoft’s sagas still dominate, but new stories emerge, including tales of Dell, Oracle, Netscape and the Internet. The second edition shows how the PC child has grown up. You’ll see how the nerds took a hobby and reformed the world using Boolean logic, integrated circuits, motherboards and chips. getabstract recommends this book to everyone with an interest in the computer industry and particularly to those who are hungry for the real stories behind the growth of the 20th century’s most pivotal industry.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the personal computer was born
  • The origins of the microprocessor
  • How Apple and Microsoft started.


Boolean Algebra, Vacuum Tubes and Steam
The question that launched the personal computer industry was, "Can a machine be programmed to think?" In 1833, British inventor Charles Babbage claimed that steam could be harnessed to run an analytical engine that could solve mathematical...
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About the Authors

Paul Frieberger  is the co-author of Fuzzy Logic , winner of the 1993 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He has written for the San Jose Mercury News , the San Francisco Examiner and National Public Radio and now works at the Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto, California. Michael Swaine  is editor at large for Dr. Dobb’s Journal. He is also a popular columnist for print and electronic magazines in the United States, Italy and Germany and maintains Swaine’s World, a Web site that tracks computer industry news, at

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