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Book Review: Apple Confidential: The Real Story of Apple Computer, Inc.

by Jennifer Berger


(IDG) -- I'll admit it -- I'm a die-hard Macintosh fan. From the day my family heaved our first 128K Mac out of the box and plugged it in, I've been hooked. I was truly saddened in the days when armchair analysts predicted the demise of Apple Computer, and I was excited to hear that profits were finally coming in for the once-doomed company.

So, it was with great interest that I devoured Apple Confidential: The Real Story of Apple Computer, Inc., a soap opera involving a real-life cast of characters, including Steve "Woz" Wozniak, the techie; Steve Jobs, the despot; Jef Raskin, the true father of the Mac; and Mike Markkula, the rich funder.

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Just as happened during Beatlemania of the 1960s, when teenagers collected every fact possible about the Fab Four, Owen Linzmayer, the book's author, has collected every bit of information about Apple Computer imaginable.

We learn that the ill-fated Apple Lisa may -- or may not -- have been named after Jobs' daughter, born out of wedlock just months before the project's inception; that the Mac Plus' code name was "Mr. T"; and that Bill Gates once said to Jobs, "... just because you broke into Xerox's house before I did and took the TV doesn't mean I can't go in later and take the stereo."

And, do you know who signed your first Macintosh? These juicy tidbits are the main reason to read this book.

My only major complaint about Apple Confidential was its organization; it is difficult to follow in a clear, chronological manner.

Instead of telling the story from beginning to end and dividing chapters by year or era, there are chapters about each major Apple product, the timeframes of which often overlap. Too often, I found myself saying, "Help! Which year are we in?"

And, although Jobs is hands-down the most intriguing character in this account, the book focuses too narrowly on his every move, all the while painting him as Napoleonesque, a vulgar and ignorant conquerer.

Negatives aside, this amazingly thorough, mostly fascinating, and well-researched account of Apple's history leaves not much to be desired in the way of information about Apple. Written with humor, respect, and care, it absolutely is a must-read for every Apple fan.

Apple Confidential: The Real Story of Apple Computer, Inc.
By Owen W. Linzmayer
No Starch Press, 1999
ISBN 1-886411-28-X
$17.95, 256 pages

Jennifer Berger is a copy editor at InfoWorld.

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Apple Computer, Inc.

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