ASSOCIATES (vol. 3, no. 3, March 1997) -

Table of Contents

                          _PC ROADKILL_
                          Michael Hyman
                    IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. 

                    Reviewed by Bob Farnsworth 
                Senior Library technical Assistant 
                   University of North Florida 

Uh-oh!  With a title like _PC Roadkill_, and with a subtitle of
"Twisted Tales from Silicon valley", you might think this volume is
a mad jump over a cliff at the side of the Information
Fear not!  In reality, this book is a "light-hearted look at the
culture that brought forth the Information Age".  If you're getting
just a little weary of the many wonderful - but wordy - books about
computers, this may be the one you'll really enjoy.
The author, Michael Hyman, works at a major software company and
has written either other computer books.  His style  is that of a
tour guide who is truly hoping to interest visitors in his area of
And if you have a lot of fun - and some laughs - along the line,
then all the better.  You're also going to be learning some
interesting facts that you can use to impress your computer guru
Just three examples from the "Did you know?" section:  Did you know
"Steve Jobs was a primal scream instructor" or that "dBase was
originally created to track horse races" or that some "Apple III
users had to drop the CPU on the floor to make the chips seat in
the sockets and work"?
Yes, this is a fun book - and one that can prompt some interesting
discussions, even if you're not experienced with all the nuances of
the Computer Age.  Throughout the many chapters, Hyman gives us
history, trivia, wild illustrations, and solid facts.  All are
served up in a very readable format, and there are a lot of
"zingers" you can use to impress others with your computer
Just think how you'll wow the coffee group when you tell them that
the "Macintosh development team regarded itself as a rebel group -
and flew a Jolly Roger flag outside of its building".
Or.."Metaware is said to hold opening prayers before its meetings,
and ships books from the New Testament with their products".
And you can dazzle your library colleagues by mentioning the
"Easter Eggs" that are in a lot of software products!  "Easter Egg"
is "another term for the hidden credit screen that lists the
developers who worked on the program.  When a special set of
undocumented keystrokes or actions occurs, lo and behold, up come
their names!"  You're even given some examples to show off with.
There's a lot of computer history in the book as well.  And
illustrations abound.  For example, there's a copy of the original
Microsoft ad which was set up in a fashion similar to a comic
Speaking of history, a few more giggles.  Did you know that the
first run of the Borland Database Engine went out with 'Reeference'
Manuals instead of Reference Manuals?  You can imagine the comments
about what the prrofreading team was reading!
Or "Robert Noyce was one of the founders of Intel, and he became
extremely wealthy as a result of his efforts.  He allegedly once
stood in a long line at his bank and, when he got to the teller,
calmly withdrew $1.3 million from his account so that he could buy
a Lear jet".
Yes, there are many facts and foibles that we haven't been told
about in our readings about computers.  And Michael Hyman lets us
see them from his vantage point as an insider in the industry.
So if you find that you're suffering brain overload from too many
dull computer facts, this book is strongly recommended to help you
put back some of the enjoyment in your work with the "smart