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Publisher's Summary

Remember the ZX Spectrum? Ever have a go at programming with its stretchy rubber keys? Did you marvel at the immense galaxies of Elite on the BBC Micro or lose yourself in the surreal caverns of Manic Miner on the ZX Spectrum? For anyone who was a kid in the 1980s, these iconic computer brands are the stuff of legend.

In Electronic Dreams, Tom Lean tells the story of how computers invaded British homes for the first time, as people set aside their worries of electronic brains and Big Brother and embraced the wonder technology of the 1980s. This book charts the history of the rise and fall of the home computer, the family of futuristic and quirky machines that took computing from the realm of science and science fiction to being a user-friendly domestic technology. It is a tale of unexpected consequences, when the machines that parents bought to help their kids with homework ended up giving birth to the video games industry, and of unrealized ambitions, like the ahead-of-its-time Prestel network that first put the British home online but failed to change the world. Ultimately, it's the story of the people who made the boom happen, the inventors and entrepreneurs, like Clive Sinclair and Alan Sugar, seeking new markets, bedroom programmers and computer hackers and the millions of everyday folk who bought in to the electronic dream and let the computer into their lives.

©2016 Tom Lean (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Johnny
  • FAYETTEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, United States
  • 09-28-17

Awesome outline of electronic history

I love this book. The content is excellent, offering a very clean and easy to follow timeline of the development of computers both from a technological perspective and an economic one, without getting dry or boring at all. The narrator is easy to listen to and really lets you focus on the story without any distraction. I enjoy the history of computers as a subject and out of the books I've read and listened to this is my favorite one in both regards.

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  • Ash
  • 05-18-16

Full of nostalgic enthusiasm.

If you grew up through the personal computer revolution you'll get a lot of nostalgic kicks and some great information, if you're new to the history this book is written (and read) with such enthusiasm that you'll get a taste of what it was like it be there.

Truly an inspiring tale and the best thing is - it's all true!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Hedgehog
  • 07-30-18

Definitive history of computer hardware

Great book for anyone interested in the history of technology hardware.

Focuses mainly on the hardware side of computers.

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  • Ulven
  • 05-15-18

Entertaining, Engaging, Enlightening

Very well written and narrated. It starts by showing the initial development of computing as a whole, and moves on to the background which fostered the boom in micro-computers in '80s Britain, starting with kit computers onward. Gives some interesting looks at not only the big hitters like Sinclair, Commodore, and Acorn (especially the influence of the BBC Micro and accompanying TV programmes) but other manufacturers and their machines.

Games get some great coverage from the early arcade-style ZX-81 titles which featured some creative use of ASCII characters, through to Ultimate Play The Game's isometric endeavours, and the galaxy in a casette/floppy, Elite.

While people with a light interest in reading about a very important age in computing will find this a great read, I reckon enthusiasts will lap up every word. An excellent look at not only the technology but the cultural impact which can still be felt today.

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  • David Richard Long
  • 09-29-17

That's my history

I started on ICL mainframes, but as soon as personal computers appeared, I had to have one (many). The commercial machines that I worked on changed as did the personal ones now I have 4 models of Raspberry Pi. This book tells the story of my progression and I suspect, many other enthusiasts I recommend it.

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  • "geordiemoozy"
  • 06-28-17

So so treatment, misses a trick

This is a part of 'history' that, as a child of the time, I find fascinating and so I was keen to listen. Everything is covered in detail but I did think it was a bit of a labour at times. I would have liked more about the games, which is promised in the early part of the book but then seemed to be skimmed over later. The story of the hardware is just not that interesting in the end, but if the hardware story is what you are after try and get the video 'Triumph of the Nerds' which covers similar things in a more engaging way.

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  • A P Smith
  • 02-24-17

Comprehensive and enjoyable nostalgia trip

Incredibly thorough history of the home computer in Britain. While listening a couple of times I thought 'hold why hasn't he mentioned X'? Then the next chapter would cover that very topic in detail!

Makes the point that whilst home computers were originally conceive primary as educational and 'tinkerers' devices it was gaming that proved to be the 'killer app'.

Anyone who nostalgically remembers owning the mighty ZX Spectrum (or even one of its inferior competitors) will find this walk down memory lane a compelling listen.

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  • jdb
  • 01-11-17

Good history of the British Microcomputer revolution

The book is a good summary of the key events and people involved in the British Microcomputer revolution of the 70's and 80's. It is a must listen for anyone with nostalgia of the beginnings of personal computers and anyone who played Granny's Garden on a BBC at school.

The performance is fairly dry and can be a little repetitive.

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  • Mr. J. I. Mahoney
  • 12-14-16

Slow burner

The first half of the book is very slow but the second half really ramps up as it centres more on the sectors move to gaming.

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  • Peter Jarrett
  • 12-05-16

A great book, very well written, superbly read!

This book brought back a great number of fantastic memories of growing up with the BBC Micro in the 1980s - not to mention the war with Amiga and spectrum owners!

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  • J Welch
  • 11-06-16

If you grew up in the 80s

If like me you grew up in the 80s this was just bringing back memory after memory. Really fascinating to find out what was going on behind the scene