I've got quite a large collection of computing books ranging from computer
humour ("PC Roadkill", "The Devouring Fungus") through
to programming ("C Programmer's Guide to Serial Communications", "Tricks
of the Game Programming Gurus") and along the way taking in microprocessors,
history, companies, hardware, operating systems, etc. The collection
is too large to add it to this site all in one go, I'll try to add it
bit by bit. Many of these books have sample chapters available for reading
on Amazon, so I've included links to Amazon where available for those
that would like to buy a book or read reviews or sample chapters (just
click on the book's title to be whisked off to Amazon).
Gaming | Hacking | Hardware | History | Humour | Microprocessors | Operating
Programming | Software
On! From Pong to Oblivion - The 50 Greatest Video Games of All
by Simon Byron, Ste Curran, David McCarthy
A lavishly illustrated book that tries to select the 50 greatest
video games of all time. Any book that claims to rate the best
of anything is bound to draw criticism and I certainly would
argue with many of the choices that the authors selected. Some
of the games I'd never heard of, while others I would consider "interesting" but
If you're into retro-gaming then you'll be sadly disappointed
at the authors selections. A break down of the games by the decade
they were released in:
Clearly the authors don't rank early games from the 70's and
80's very highly, and predictably they've chosen games such as
Space Invaders, Pacman, and Asteroids from this period. The book
is filled with quite a bit of hype, in some places even contradicting
itself (in the section on The Sims the authors say it is "the
number one best selling game of all time" but in the Super
Mario Bros 3 section they say "the most successful videogame
of all time, selling 18 million copies").
Still, the book is fantastically illustrated and is worthwhile
just for the imagery if not the game selection and prose.
Score! The Illustrated History of Electronic Games
by Rusel DeMaria, Johnny L. Wilson
This is a photo-filled look back at our favourite electronic
games, the personal histories of the people who made them and
the history of an industry that rose from obscurity to mass-market
popularity in 30 years.
There's only one word that adequately describes this book: "lavish".
The authors must have put in a fantastic amount of time doing
all the research and tracking down the hundreds of photos: pictures
of developers, screen-shots, box-shots, etc.
This is definitely a five stars out of five book!
Nation: How Videogames Ate Our Quarters, Won Our Hearts, and
Rewired Our Minds
by J. C. Herz
Joystick Nation traces the brief history of computerized entertainment – the
industry and its social effects – through the prism of
someone who was born the same year as the first coin-operated
I had high hopes for this book but by the time I had reached
the last page I was very disappointed. The hard facts are few
and far between and many pages are devoted to the author's own
interpretations and ideas on why games are popular (a little
bit too psychological for my tastes).
Cornwall's New Hacker's Handbook
by Steve Gold
Written back in the late 80's when hacking (in the meaning of illegal
entry of computer systems) was all the rage. I personally hate the
way these kids took the honourable word of "hacker" and subverted
it for their own means. Would-be hackers probably wouldn't get much
out of this book, it's mostly to do with how targets are found, social
engineering to get info, and basic computer comms stuff. Some techniques
are briefly outlined but not gone into in any real detail.
of the Inner Circle : The True Story of a Computer Intruder Capable
of Cracking the Nation's Most Secure Computer Systems
by Bill Landreth
While this book was an interesting read when it first came out in
1985 it has dated considerably. It was written around the time when
the media were getting interested in hacking and there were a few high-profile
cases. Lots of people were coming forward and admitting they were "ex-hackers" and
were trying to cash in on the public interest. My copy of this book
even has the typical photo of the author with a black box over his
New Hacker's Dictionary
by Eric S. Raymond
"Hacker" as in the original meaning of the word. Based
on the famous Jargon
File, this book is full of in-jokes, slang and clever essays
from the early days of computing at MIT's
AI lab and Stanford's
AI lab. Now you can get the definitive
meaning of "foobar"!
While I was on holiday in Australia in 2001 I found a copy of "The
Hacker's Dictionary" in a second-hand bookshop. This is
the first edition, published in 1983. Only 139 pages long, I
believe this was the first publication of the Jargon File. I
don't know if this book is rare, but since I had never seen a
copy I bought it for AU$6.00
Connection Mysteries Solved
by Graham Wideman
I bought this book back in the 80's when I first started playing around
with modems and bulletin boards. It mainly covers RS-232, parallel,
video and MIDI interfaces, but also touches on keyboards, joysticks,
mice, etc. Very good descriptions on various pinouts, what the different
signals are used for, etc.
and Repairing PCs
by Scott Mueller
Undoubtedly one of the best series of books on PC hardware.
The book is regularly updated with new editions coming out regularly
to cover new hardware and software advances. This book presents
updated coverage of every significant PC component: processors,
motherboards, memory, BIOS, IDE and SCSI interfaces, drives,
removable and optical storage, video and audio hardware, USB,
FireWire, Internet connectivity, LAN's, power supplies, even
PC cases. Also included is a detailed troubleshooting index designed
to help readers rapidly diagnose more than 250 common PC hardware
problems, as well as an extensive vendor contact guide, and a
comprehensive PC technical glossary.
by Mike Hally
I first heard a series of 15 minute radio programmes on BBC
Radio 4 called "Electronic
Brains - Stories from the Dawn of the Computer Age" sometime
in the mid 2000's. I was intrigued by these stories and while
visiting the Science
Museum in London I actually got to see one of the computers
mentioned in the radio series; the Phillips
Machine (invented by the New Zealander Bill Phillips, this
was a hydraulic computer that pumped water around to simulate
a national economy). Also while in London I picked up a copy
of this book, which goes into much more depth than the radio
The computer that intrigued me the most was the LEO,
invented by the J.
Lyons and Co British company, famous for their tea shops
throughout the UK, and designed to handle the company's accounts
The remaining computers mentioned in this book (the ABC, EDSAC,
ENIAC, UNIVAC, IBM 360, etc) have received quite a bit of recognition
in other books, with the exception of what the Russians were
History of Computers
by Les Freed
Includes lots of gorgeous photos and colour illustrations. Time
span is from the early mechanical calculators of the 1600's through
to the ubiquitous PC of the late 1990's. Only 150 odd pages,
tends to focus more on the hardware than the people.
by Tim Jackson
The history of how Intel came into being and some of the people
behind the company. Lots of interviews with the people that work
(or worked) at Intel and an insight into the company's culture.
Palm: The Inside Story of Palm, Handspring and the Birth of the
Billion Dollar Handheld Industry
by Andrea Butter and David Pogue
The history of how Palm came into being and its successes and
failures along the way. Written by someone who was there for
part of the journey, this is an interesting book for anyone that
is into computer history or start-up computer companies from
The Palm Pilot was the first really successful handheld computer.
Originally conceived from an idea of Jeff Hawkins, who brought
Donna Dubinsky on board as CEO to start a company to develop
what eventually became the Palm Pilot.
My only criticism is that the story appears to be somewhat sugar-coated.
It is overly enthusiastic and makes it appear that Hawkins and
Dubinsky can do no wrong. The story is short on technological
details and long on struggles for survival and success, which
means that there is very little nitty-gritty detail that I really
would have enjoyed reading about, such as why certain design
decisions were made. Also there is no mention of the numerous
lawsuits that have been bought against Palm:
Whether these lawsuits had any merit or not, I still would have
liked to read about them and what Palm did to defend themselves.
by Allan Lundell
Published in 1989, this book is seriously showing its age. But
never-the-less the interviews with early virus hunters (i.e. John
McAfee, who at the time was driving around in an old camper
van that had been converted into a traveling viral laboratory)
and virus writers (i.e. Basit and Amjad Farooq Alvi, the two
Pakistani brothers that created the Pakistani
Brain virus) are insightful and historical.
An interesting appendix covers the Morris
Worm (also known as the Internet Worm) in some detail.
Pegasus Story: A history of a vintage British computer
by Simon Lavington
This is the history of the innovative British-designed computer
named Pegasus (first
delivered in 1956). The Pegasus Story discusses the origins of
the Pegasus project from wartime know-how through to the involvement
Ltd, giving tribute to the remarkable achievements of the
individuals involved in the design and building of this vintage
computer. The book details the technical aspects of Pegasus from
an engineering and programming perspective, as well as comparing
its performance with other contemporary designs and modern PC's.
I first came across the Pegasus computer while visiting the Science
Museum in London where they have the 25th Pegasus machine
to be built in full working order. A little note said that
a book about the Pegasus was available for purchase from the
museum's bookshop. I duly tracked down a copy and devoured
it cover to cover (not a long task as the book is only 58 pages
long). The author writes in a very easy to follow style that
makes reading the book a joy. Included are many excellent black
and white photos of the Pegasus hardware and the key individuals
involved in the creation of the Pegasus.
by Michael Hyman
A very funny book about the people, companies, products, trade
shows, jokes, etc, that made the computer industry what it is
today. Lots of funny stories and interesting facts. Techno geeks
Devouring Fungus: Tales of the Computer Age
by Karla Jennings
This book is filled with anecdotes about computers and their
devotees. You know the kind, a friend of a friend swears it really
happened to them. Like the computer technician who asked a user
to mail over a copy of a floppy disk and then received a photocopy
of the disk. Or the phone support person who told the user to "Press
any key to continue" and the user asked "Which is the
The Devouring Fungua is a clearly written, and highly amusing,
history of the beginnings of computers and the society surrounding
them. Iillustrated with cartoons by Garry Trudeau, Rich Tennant
68010, 68020 Primer
by Stan Kelly-Bootle and Bob Fowler
I bought this book back in the 80's when I was interested in doing
some assembly programming on my Atari
ST. Lots of good detail and covers all the stuff you'd expect to
see in a microprocessor book (instruction set, addressing modes, etc).
Also contains a very handy reference card.
to 6800 6802 Microprocessor Systems : Hardware, Software, and Experimentation
by R J Simpson and T J Terrell
Actually one of the first computer books I ever owned! Back in the
Christmas of 1982 my father bought the family a Panasonic
JR-100 home computer. It was a bit like the old Sinclair
Spectrum, except it had a Motorola 6802 at its heart and a black
and white display. I used this book to teach myself assembly programming
(actually it was more like machine-code programming as I didn't have
an assembler for the JR-100 and so had to hand assemble my programs
and run a little JR-BASIC program that POKEd the programs into memory).
Practical Approach to Operating Systems
by Malcolm G. Lane and James D. Mooney
A comprehensive introduction to the study of the internals of operating
systems. Used in many university courses. Covers process management
and scheduling, user interface, interrupts, I/O, device management,
memory management, file system, security, accounting and much more.
Introduction to Operating Systems
by Harvey M. Deitel
An old text book from my tech days. Includes all the usual stuff you
need to know: process management, storage management, networking, security,
etc. Case studies on UNIX, VMS, CP/M, MVS and VM. I notice that the
latest edition has changed these case studies to include OS/2, MS-DOS
Systems: Design And Implementation
by Andrew S. Tanenbaum and Albert S. Woodhull
Covers fundamental operation systems concepts such as processes,
interprocess communication, input-output, virtual memory, file
systems, and security. What's interesting about this book is
that they created a small OS called MINIX to illustrate various
for Professionals : Advanced Methods and Techniques
by Harvey E. Rodstein
An in-depth look at PICK.
Covers file management, PICK/BASIC,
list processing, process control, ACCESS programming, security, etc.
by M. Drew Streib, Michael Turner, et al.
A very useful reference that isn't tied to any particular distribution.
All the usual command line stuff is here, as well as lots of
configuration and administration information, basic shell programming
and kernel management, hardware configuration, etc. This book
is valuable as a reference and a how-to guide.
: The Complete Reference : System V Release 3
by Stephen Coffin
really liked UNIX (how does anyone remember those obscure command
names?!?) but this book helped a lot. Covers commands, editing, shells,
file system, etc.
Programmer's Guide to Serial Communications
by Joe Campbell
650 pages of theoretical and practical discussion on the fundamentals
of asynchronous comms, error-checking methods, flow-control, file-transfer
protocols (XMODEM and Kermit, remember those?), modems, RS-232 interface,
UARTs, interrupts, etc. All from a C programmers perspective. Also
has an awesome ASCII wall chart.
by Charles N. Fischer and Richard J. LeBlanc, Jr
If you've ever wondered how a compiler works, or wanted to write
your own, then this is the book for you! Covers scanning, grammars
and parsing, symbol tables, run-time storage, data and control
structures, code generation, optimisation, etc.
by Ian Sommerville
Quite a good introduction to software
engineering. Good diagrams, nice bite-sized chunks, quite
a broad coverage of different topics; I found this book quite
by Dan Fox
Pure Visual Basic is a substantial and focused reference for
professional programmers. This book begins with an accelerated
introduction to Visual Basic concepts from projects, forms, and
controls to using the Windows API, debugging, and error handling.
The heart of Pure Visual Basic is the hundreds of programming
techniques, complete with well-commented code examples that you
can immediately use in your own VB programs.
Covers VB 6. More for the professional programmer rather than
Basic 6 Unleashed
by Rob Thayer
Visual Basic 6 Unleashed provides comprehensive coverage of
the most sought after topics in Visual Basic programming. This
book provides the reader with a comprehensive reference to virtually
all the topics that are used in today's leading-edge Visual Basic
applications. An excellent choice for the experienced VB developer
that is interested in true RAD development, and in utilizing
some of the latest hot technologies.
This book is not an introduction to VB as it assumes the reader
knows how to program in Visual Basic. Instead this is a book
for intermediate to advanced users.
Topics that are introduced and described: how to utilize the
rich features of the 6.0 development environment, TAPI,
SAPI, MAPI, ADO,
socket programming, ActiveX servers
and controls, Windows
help systems, and more.
I found this book to be an invaluable addition to my collection,
and always keep it within easy reach.
by Steve McConnell
A practical reference to software construction from design through
to testing. Includes examples in C, Pascal, BASIC, and Fortran.
The concepts discussed in Code Complete are applicable to any
procedural language in any computing environment. The presentation,
intended to help developers take strategic action rather than
fight the same battles again and again, includes some 500 examples
of code (both good and bad), along with checklists for assessment
of architecture, design approach, and module and routine quality.
Like Brook's classic, "The
Mythical Man-Month", Code Complete offers practical
advice on the real-world challenges of software development.
If you write code for a living then you need to read this book.
The advice is valid across all procedural programming languages.
This book will help you to become a valuable member of any
coding team by teaching you how to write solid code that will
be easy to extend and maintain.
This book has to be one of the best practical guides to writing
commercial software. I highly recommended it.
Official XTree, Ms-DOS & Hard Disk Companion
by Beth Woods
XTree was one of those great programs that once used it was impossible
to do without. This book covered all the ins and outs of the program.
For those people that still long for the power of XTree you should
check out ZTree,
a text-mode file / directory manager for Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2K/XP.
ZTree is a 32-bit app that supports long filenames and isn't limited
to 640K (now you can log an unlimited number of files and disks!)