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Publisher's Summary

Dealers of Lightning is the riveting story of the legendary Xerox PARC - a collection of eccentric young inventors brought together by Xerox Corporation at a facility in Palo Alto, California, during the mind-blowing intellectual ferment of the '70s and '80s. Here for the first time is revealed in piercing detail the true story of the extraordinary group that aimed to bring about a technological dawn that would change the world - and succeeded.

Based on extensive interviews with scientists, engineers, administrators, and corporate executives who lived the story, Dealers of Lightning takes the listener on a journey from PARC's beginnings in a dusty, abandoned building at the edge of the Stanford University campus to its triumph as a hothouse of ideas that spawned not only the first personal computer, but the windows-style graphical user interface, the laser printer, much of the indispensable technology of the Internet, and a great deal more. It shows how and why Xerox, despite its willingness to grant PARC unlimited funding and the responsibility for developing breakthroughs to keep the corporation on the cutting edge of office technology, remained forever unable to grasp (and, consequently, exploit) the innovations that PARC delivered, and details the increasing frustration of the original PARC scientists, many of whom would go on to build their fortunes upon the very ideas Xerox so rashly discarded.

(P) and ©1999 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., All Rights Reserved, Harper Audio, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"...for any student of business or technology, Dealers of Lightning offers a gem of a story that has never before been so well told." (The New York Times Book Review)

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  • Overall
  • Colin
  • hounslow, N/A, United Kingdom
  • 03-25-03

the jurassic age of computing

xerox parc was the fertile crescent of modern computing gadgetry. everything we use today seems to have roots going back to that time and that place. this is an enthralling book for students of technology. well worth a look!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Audio quality is bad, story is awe inducing

You'll need to power through the terrible audio quality, but I found it well worth it to gain a glimpse into PARC.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting but a bit tedious

This book provides a great history lesson in technology, however, its main focus is on the individuals that developed the technology, not the technology itself. It can be pretty tedious to listen to, but there is some good suff in there if you can hang in there.

It is absolutely amazing how many modern technologies spawned from the developments made by the visionaries at PARC such as the computer mouse, the GUI interface, ethernet, the laser printer, etc. Its even more amazing that Xerox capitalized on virtualy none of these inventions.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had a unique interest in this book due to the fact that have been a Xerox employee for over a decade, and have actualy had the opportunity to visit PARC (long after its inovative heyday of course).

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Enlightening and Entertaining

The book's clear and fluid narrative accounts the rise and fall of Xerox PARC in a way which seems to touch on every major segment of hi-tech from VLSI circuits and Intel to Ethernet and 3COM. I was surprised to learn that even more had been invented, tinkered with and implemented at PARC than I could ever have imagined- with very little of it becoming a comercial product. This was a fascinating tale and is perfect for any person in high tech, printing or technical sales.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Audio on an Alto

Imagine a researcher at PARC worked on audio recording and compression back in the sixties. The result would surely fare better than this disaster of a recording.

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terrible audio quality

almost refunded except i had to read the book and audiobook was the only way. please remaster and normalize

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Terrible sound quality

This book has very poor sound quality. As an abridged version, a lot of the personality nuances of the characters are lost. Not recommendable...

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Interesting, could be better

If you're interested in the history of the personal computer, then listening to the history of Xerox PARC will be a pleasure. And this is the only audiobook (at least on Audible, and probably at all) on the topic. The passing mentions to PARC in the histories of Apple don't go nearly deep enough. But I feel like this is a new audiobook waiting to happen. This book isn't bad, but the characters seem a little flat, the book (and probably the recording) are old, the descriptions of the technology a little lifeless, the audio quality poor. But beggars can't be choosers.

  • Overall

Great story

I enjoyed listening to this story. It talks a lot about the history of computers and the good and bad decisions made by Xerox. The audio quality fluctuated a little, but overall good.

  • Overall
  • Maggie
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 06-12-10

Skip this

Maybe the printed version is better. Although the history of PARC is fascinating, the book was poorly written -- or the abridgment was mangled. It was tedious and disorganized. The narrator was terrible -- like somebody from one of those True Time TV shows with the cheesy reenactments. The production values were very low -- I could record a better-sounding narration in my living room with a simple digital recorder.