Revolution in The Valley
How was the Macintosh made? How did it evolve? What are the stories of the people who created it? Revolution in the Valley is a series of anecdotes compiled by Software Wizard Andy Hertzfeld about the early days of the Macintosh.
Andy first began to tell his tales of the Mac's creation on his website, Folklore.org. Not long after, Tim O'Reilly approached him about the possibility of compiling the stories into a book. Browse Folklore.org and you can still read most of these stories online, but Revolution in the Valley presents them in a more comfortable, enjoyable format.
Every story Andy presents is an entertaining read, but most fascinating are the tales of chance. Luck and the determination of individuals working on scorned projects played a decisive role in the formation of user interface characteristics that we take for granted today.
The Lisa, for example, almost had an interface based on dialog boxes. It was the surreptitious work of Bill Atkinson and Dan Smith that gave us the icon-based Finder we use today. In another story, Andy tells of how the "OK" button was labeled "Do It" - until one user asked why his computer was calling him a "Dolt."
Equally interesting are the features that didn't make it. The original Macintosh almost had a slot (euphemistically called the "diagnostic port") until management realized what it was really supposed to be. On the more whimsical side, had it not been for limited ROM space, "Mr. Macintosh" would have appeared in a menu waving his hand, once every couple thousand times the user pulled down a menu.
Revolution in the Valley is an fascinating book which anybody reading this site will enjoy immensely. Even if you don't buy a copy, at least head over to Folklore.org, where you can read many of the stories online.