14 June 99

Unsolicited review for fatbrain.com of the book

    Infinite Loop : How Apple, the World's Most Insanely Great Computer
    Company, Went Insane
    By Malone, Michael S.

by Paul Heckbert
Carnegie Mellon University, ph@cs.cmu.edu

An interesting book on the history of Apple Computer.  The beginning of
the book (Apple's early years) is quite a page-turner.

I thought the book was too long (almost 600 pages) and would have been
much better if it had been edited down to half its length.  The
stories, particularly toward the beginning of the book, of the
backgrounds of Wozniak and Jobs, and their early years, were
penetrating in their discussions of the technology (Apple II, Mac) and
personalities, but in the Sculley-Spindler-Amelio years, the stories
dwell on the comings and goings of the top executives and consequently
get rather boring.

The book is poorly edited, containing repetitive material, and
excessive detail tangential to the main story.  Perhaps this is a
consequence of compiling the book mainly from San Jose Mercury News
stories (the author cites as his main source) rather than from
interviews with the main actors.  The first few hundred pages were the
best; the last 100 the weakest.

The writing has a myopic flavor to it, I thought: paragraphs or
sections attempt to be complete stories, re-stating the causes,
excessively foreshadowing the long-term effects, as if the writer is
not patient enough to to let the reader wait to read the consequences a
chapter later.  Also, the book uses so many superlatives that it almost
seems that every other month at Apple was their best month or their
worst month.  Sure, Apple was a rollercoaster, but all this
exaggeration gets quite tiresome.

Some other omissions: no pictures! no timeline, no discussion of
MacPaint or MacDraw or Quicktime VR, very little discussion of the
Web.  There was too much focus on (boring) executives and hardware, and
too little attention to the technical wizards at Apple (Wozniak,
Raskin, and a few others were covered), nothing on Apple's excellent User
Interface Group, too little on software.

In spite of these criticisms, I'd still recommend it as an interesting
book about a fascinating company!  I haven't read any other books on
Apple history, so I can't compare it to others, however.


review at fatbrain.com.