The authors make a good attempt to document the ups and downs of the high-tech firms located along Boston’s Route 128. Most notable are the computer hardware and software corporations, which the authors cover fairly generally, from the inception of that greenbelt route through the early 1990s. In addition, they make a valiant attempt to draw reasonable conclusions from that history, presumably for the benefit of present and future generations.
One of the authors is a professional writer, and the other was a news and magazine reporter prior to becoming an employee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As a consequence, the book they have produced is not only grammatically and contextually correct, devoid of typos, and conservatively typeset, it is also easy and enjoyable reading. The index seems adequate, the reference notes are impressive, and the bibliography is extraordinary for a narrowly focused book.
On the negative side, the book has no illustrations or graphics. Also, the text makes some disconcerting jumps back and forth in time; however, the generally good organization and excellent presentation mitigate these defects. One might also criticize the emphasis on MIT’s contributions to the successes of the firms along the route, but this possible bias can be better analyzed by others who are not employed by or alumni of MIT, and who are better acquainted with the area than I am. Finally, although Silicon Valley is referred to occasionally, no mention is made of other areas in America that have been heavily influenced by high-tech industries, particularly computers, such as Phoenix, Houston, Huntsville, parts of Florida, and southern California.
It is tempting to give a summary of the book, including the major lessons learned, but in deference to the authors’ royalties, you will have to buy or borrow the book or find a different review to get that information. Despite some minor shortcomings, the authors have produced a most enjoyable volume that is a genuine contribution to the history of computers and the Boston area. Anyone interested in either of these areas of nonfiction should enjoy reading it.