Blue Magic

Blue Magic : People, Power and Politics Behind the I. B. M. Personal Computer

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  • Hardback
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Product details

  • Hardback | 244 pages
  • 160 x 232 x 28mm | 539.77g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • Grafton
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0246134453
  • 9780246134455

Review Text

A consistently engrossing account of how IBM overcame the inertia of its own corporate culture to develop a personal computer line that became the centerpiece of a multibillion-dollar industry. Beyond providing previously released material, secretive Big Blue gave the authors precious little assistance; indeed, they were denied interviews with executives and engineers still on the payroll. Free-lance writer Chposky and business consultant Leonsis nonetheless secured enough information from other sources (including key members of the original task force who are no longer in the company's employ) to piece together a fascinating story that rings true throughout. As recently as mid-1980, the authors recount, IBM had all but ceded the low end of the computer market to the upstart likes of Apple and Compaq. At the eleventh hour, however, top management almost casually endorsed a crash program to give the Armonk colossus a PC presence. Working out of a backwater facility in Boca Raton, Fla., a team of free-spirited designers and support personnel got the job done in just over a year. Granted an unusual measure of autonomy, the free-wheeling nonconformists pursued an unconventional course that shocked IBM's mainframe-oriented bureaucracy to the depths of its structured soul. Among other jolting departures from past practice, the PC team recruited outside vendors to supply componentry and programming; it also authorized Sears, Computerland, and other retail outlets to sell the new machines. Having survived in-house challenges as well as technical and production crises, the so-called wild ducks (under the charismatic leadership of Don Estridge, who later died in a jetliner crash) met all deadlines and performance requirements for an entry-level system. In August of 1981, IBM was able to introduce a popularly priced personal computer, complete with a distribution network and merchandising campaign that featured a Charlie Chaplin look-alike. Demand boomed, boosting sales to an annual rate exceeding $4 billion within three years. As the authors make clear, though, Big Blue found its PC a tough act to follow. In addition, the company lost the services of many talented mavericks who resisted unrewarded re-entry into mainstream enterprises that operated by the book. Accessible and engrossing coverage of a consequential commercial project. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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