folklore.org
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Revolution in the Valley
Author: Andy Hertzfeld
Date: January 2004
Characters: Steve Jobs, Andy Hertzfeld, Mike Markkula, Steve Wozniak, Tim O'Reilly, Allen Noren, Michelle Weatherbee, Melanie Wang
Topics: Commentary, The Book
Summary: The story of how this site turned into a book

Revolution in the Valley is a new hardcover book, published by O'Reilly Media in December 2004, that is based on the anecdotes from this website. This story describes the book and how it came to be, and what it means to Folklore.org moving forward.



When I began to write stories for this site in June 2003, I had no intention of trying to publish them in book form. I was excited by the idea of developing a web site to facilitate collective historical storytelling, where a group of participants could collaborate to recollect an interesting event. I chose the format of numerous interlinked anecdotes because it seemed natural for the web and better suited to a collaborative effort than a single, continuous narrative, allowing a tale to be elaborated indefinitely without compromising the voices of the individual authors.

After I got the initial site running in August 2003, with about 20 stories, I began to show it to various original Mac team members and others, to gather feedback and encourage participation. When I showed the site to Tim O'Reilly, I was surprised he suggested that his company publish it as a book. At first, I thought conforming to a book format might compromise my goals for the site, but I soon realized that the site's anecdotal structure could work in book form and I got excited about the idea. After all, I own dozens of indispensable O'Reilly books, so I was thrilled at the chance to become one of their authors. Without showing it to other publishers, I signed a contract with O'Reilly in December 2003, promising a finished draft by June 2004.

Tim introduced me to the talented team at his company, including my editor, Allen Noren, who specializes in O'Reilly's more humanistic efforts (his previous two books were Dan Gillmor's "We the People" and Paul Graham's "Hackers and Painters"). Allen guided me through the laborious process to transform the raw material of the Folklore site into a beautiful book.

After completing the writing phase in June 2004, we embarked on the editing and layout process. The first step was copy editing. All 90 or so of the stories had to be thoroughly edited, in batches of 10 at a time. Most of the changes involved fixing grammatical errors and punctuation, and removing unnecessary verbiage, chopping up my Proustian run-on sentences (like this one), but they occasionally involved additional writing to provide more explanation or clarification. My editors also wanted to delete many of the most technical passages, fearing they would alienate non-technical readers. After editing was completed on a batch, I had to accept or reject each individual change. I accepted all the grammatically oriented ones, figuring my editors knew better than I did, but I fought to keep most of the technical detail, since I thought it was an important part of the story, although we did eliminate a few of the most technical stories entirely. Sometimes we'd argue about the merits of particular changes, but it usually wasn't that hard to reach consensus. I decided to keep the original text on the site, so you can compare it with the book if you're interested in seeing what changed.

The next step was working on the layout. We decided to maintain the basic format of the site, but we divided the stories into five parts at the natural breaking points, to give the reader a chance to rest. We decided to use an unusual form factor, eight inches square, which seems simultaneously large and small at the same time. I was delighted when Allen told me they wanted to print it in full color on high quality paper without increasing the price.

Unfortunately, I discovered that it's a lot harder to publish images in a book than on the web. On the Folklore site, I didn't have to worry too much about obtaining permissions, since if anybody ever complained, I could easily remove an offending image. But once published, a book is immutable, and my contract required that I obtain formal rights for every image in the book. Some photographs require multiple layers of permissions (from the subjects, the photographer and the original publication); with twenty year old photographs it's difficult to track everything down. That kind of work is not my forte, but luckily Allen introduced me to a consultant who was willing to obtain permissions for $50 per image. To make matters worse, the printed page still has much higher resolution than a computer display, so we needed to procure higher resolution images than the ones on the site.

Before unveiling the site publicly in January 2004, I gathered up my courage and showed it to Steve Jobs. He was fairly enthusiastic about it, but as usual he had some complaints. "I like what you've done with the site", he told me, "but the quality of some of the scans you're using is terrible! Can't you do better than that?" When I complained that it was hard to find pristine copies of decades old material, he suggested that I could probably access Apple's corporate marketing archive to find better versions of lots of the images.

I didn't even know that Apple had a marketing archive. It took a few months to track down the right people, since I didn't want to bother Steve about the details, but I eventually found Sue Runfola who works on rights and permissions in Apple's Legal Department, who introduced me to Del Smith Penny, who maintains Apple's marketing archive as a part-time job. The archive is just a single room in a non-descript building a few blocks away from the main Apple campus, stuffed to the gills with maybe 40 long file cabinets. There were stacks of cardboard boxes on top of the cabinets that Del told me were acquired from Mike Markkula's garage, containing marketing material from Apple's first four years that no one had time to examine yet.

Some of the material in the archive was indexed in a Filemaker database running on an old Mac, but Del admitted that much of it still wasn't indexed at all, since he barely had time to keep up with the new stuff coming in. But he was willing to help me search for everything I asked him about and by the end of the afternoon Del and I were able to locate a treasure trove of around 30 high quality slides of relevant product and publicity photos, including some that were never published before. We also uncovered a rare video tape of potential TV commercials shot in October 1983 featuring the Mac design team that were never aired, but that's another story.

Allen introduced me to Michelle Weatherbee, an award winning book designer who had just hired on full-time to O'Reilly as art director; my book was her first project as an O'Reilly employee. Michelle had me bring up lots of my old Macintosh relics to O'Reilly headquarters in Sebastopol, including my design notebooks, which she borrowed for a few weeks to scan. I worked with Michelle and layout artist Melanie Wang to match the images to the proper stories. Michelle and a few others at O'Reilly helped choose other relevant images from commercial image clearinghouses like Corbis.

Allen told me that I needed a foreword for the book and suggested that I ask Steve Jobs to write one, but I didn't have the courage to ask him to do something like that. I suggested Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak instead, who told me that he loved the site and had even contributed a few comments to some of the stories. Woz was enthusiastic about writing the foreword, which he thought he could get done in a few weeks. We told him we needed it by the end of June.

I warned Allen that while Woz always had the best intentions, he often was a notorious procrastinator. If he didn't do something right away, it had a tendency not to get done indefinitely. Predictably, the foreword wasn't finished by the end of July and Allen began to send Woz emails to remind him about it every few weeks. Woz always replied promptly, promising to make room in his busy schedule to get it done soon.

Finally, in September, while I was meeting with Allen and team in Sebastopol to finalize the layout, he told me that he had some bad news. He had finally given up on Woz's foreword, because Woz hadn't responded to an email informing him the final deadline was approaching, even though he sent it a few days ago. I laughed and told Allen that was actually good news, because not responding to the email meant that Woz was probably actually writing it, and sure enough I was right. A few days later Woz sent Allen an eloquent, stirring foreword that was a perfect start for the book.

I assumed the title of the book would be "Macintosh Folklore", just like the website, but while I was working with Michelle and Melanie on the layout, I noticed them referring to the book as "Revolutionaries". I asked Allen what was up and he told me that the sales department didn't think my title was appealing enough, and sales honcho Mark Brokering had renamed the book "Revolutionaries in the Valley", but they were waiting to tell me until they had the cover art finished. I cringed, because I wanted to be modest and avoid hyperbole, but Allen insisted I'd love it once I saw the cover.

The next time I visited Sebastopol to work on the layout, Michelle showed me a mockup of the cover, that used a black and white Norman Seeff photo that was taken for Rolling Stone magazine in January 1984, the one where Norman told us not to smile. They had colorized the Macintosh and added a bright red background. I liked the photo but disliked the red color, and was surprised to learn that my opinion didn't matter all that much. The O'Reilly team was adamant, telling me that I wasn't in a good position to judge, since it was supposed to appeal to young people, a group to which I no longer belonged. Eventually they wore me down and today I even sort of like it. At least I was able to get them to change "Revolutionaries" to "Revolution", which I thought seemed slightly more modest.

My biggest disappointment with the book has to do with the story links. We decided to keep the story links in the book, even though you can't click on them. To compensate, they were supposed to include the page number of the referenced story, but apparently that was too much for O'Reilly's layout system to cope with, given that page numbers changed frequently as edits were made. I hope we're able to improve this in subsequent printings.

Now that the book is complete, it's interesting to compare it to the website. Once I finally got a finished copy of the book in my hands, I was amazed at how much better it seemed than the website for continuous reading, in terms of ease and enjoyment, even though most of the content was crafted for the site instead of the book. Computers still have a long way to go before they match the ease of use of books. The website has some compensating strengths, though, and is better than the book for only reading stories about a particular character or topic.

But by far the main advantage of the website over the book is that it's a living document, capable of correcting itself and growing indefinitely. That might seem ironic, given the moribund state of the Folklore site since I finished writing in June 2004. But there's a (somewhat feeble) reason: I didn't want to write new stories while the book was in production, because I knew that I would want to squeeze them into the book, and I didn't want to delay it. Hopefully, this essay helped to shake off some of the rust, and I will start adding new stories soon, probably at the rate of around one per month.

You can buy Revolution in the Valley from Amazon by clicking here.

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22 Comments     
Andy, Looking forward to buying and reading this book. I always like to read paper versus a computer screen, much clearer for my eyes. Some comments: 1) Hope you included as much of the technical information as possible. This is a story about technology so should include descriptions of this technology. If there is a section or story which your editors thought was too technical, the section/story should just say this at the beginning. I recall the original Inside Macintosh books had very low-level information offset from the other information with a title such as "For assembly language only". 2) Hope the images and scans you use are crystal clear. For example, the Mac signature sheet should be clear. I have a photocopy of this in paper form which was obtained from Apple's original sheet. I believe the scan of this that you included in your site was my scan. Did Bruce Damer of DigiBarn provide this? I gave him a CD with lots of this stuff. 3) Hope the story comments are included in the book. Great info here, it would be a shame (in my opinion) to exclude these. 4) It would be nice if your site/book contained some of the original Mac memos from Jef Raskin's tenure. His Mac genesis memo provides great info for the original Mac ideas. I know Raskin's tenure pre-dates you Mac tenure, but think that if you book is to be a accurate history of the Mac's development, that all aspects of this development are included. Thanks for all the great history work. - David Craig SHIRLGATO at CYBERMESA dot COM
Andy, I received the book as a christmas present and I read the book cover to cover in one night. This is one of the best christmas presents I have got in years. I think I will put it onto my personal Millennium Book List under the top ten of must read books. Please keep up the good work with your website as I sincerly hope to see more stories about the creation of the Mac. Happy new year and best regards Howard
aloha Andy, I created an account just so I could post here :-) I discovered Folklore a while back (thanks to a John Gruber piece), and thought it so incredible that when my wife asked me, "What book do you want this Christmas?"--I knew the answer right away. And thanks to expedited shipping, Revolution made it all the way here to Hawaii. By Christmas. Right before we left for vacation. Revolution became my "vacation" read. So days were filled with snorkeling and shaved ice and hiking to the lava at Kilauea... and nights were great stories of Round Rects, Five Different Macintoshes, Pineapple Pizza, and a Pirate Flag. Now with our Big Island trip over and work and deadlines right around the corner, I'm jealous for the fun of my vacation and the great times I read about in Revolution. Cheers to you, Andy, and as we say here in the islands... hauoli maka hiki hou. Scott Yoshino
Hey Andy, I was pleased to find this book on Amazon about 3 weeks before Christmas, but by that point everybody had figured out what to get me (unfortunately, not a snazzy new iMac or something). A week after Christmas, I found myself in a Borders in Concord, New Hampshire. I just graduated from school with my BS Information Technology and was looking for some *gulp* Microsoft Certification books so I could be desireable in the job market. After looking to see the astronomical price of the books, I looked towards the heavens or rather the top shelf and saw your book. Revolution in the Valley became this year's second Christmas gift to myself after the rear decor panel for my Saab 9-5. It wasn't much of a surprise, speaking of the Saab, that Burrell drove one back in the day. I always thought that Apple and Saab shared similar individualistic ideals, so it was cool to see you, Burrell and Brian shrouding a 1985 Saab 900 Turbo upon opening the book for the first time. My hope is that this book, whose stories from folklore.org have renewed a spirit of innovation in me, will eventually become part of my classroom when its financially viable for me to persue education as a career. I am looking forward to more stories from the good old days, so keep up the good work! The RSS feed is alive and ready for the latest and greatest. Carl Levine
Andy, I have the book sitting right here. Congratulations, job well done. I think you got off easy; I've heard of cases where the author becomes such an unimportant part of the process once the editing is done that he/she has absolutely no say in the finished product. So far I'd say this book is a nice reflection of the spirit of this site, you, the group of people and events you're writing about, and the early spirit of the Macintosh. I know the site is and I've read most of what you have here so it's a matter of reading the book and seeing how thigs have been edited. Is there retroactive editing going on? Are you going back and editing the stores here with the good edits from the book? Anyway, happy new year, I hope the book brings you good fortune in 2005 and I will forever value the beta Switcher disk you gave me at Macworld SF so many years ago along with the memory of your excitement to show a group of us what you had done that was so cool. We remember you and your enthusiasm as much as being blown away by Switcher. Thanks.
Andy, Just discovered your site and spent the better part of the past two days reading through all the articles. As a Mac user since the Mac Plus days, it was a fascinating read. Thank you for taking the time to put these stories together, and thank you and all your co-horts for making a great product that I have enjoyed using immensely for these many years. Tim Selander Tokyo, Japan
We reviewed this book and the review can be found at http://www.maccompanion.com and is in the January 2005 issue of the magazine. The free issue can be either downloaded in PDF or Flash Paper format. Thanks Andy Hertzfeld, for putting this effort to paper!
I really loved the Stories about creating the Revolution! It kept me almost two days awake to read through all of them ;) I work now 8 Months for Apple (Europe in this Case) and sometimes i can still feel the Spirit at the Company, that you Guys had 21 Years ago. I 'm just wondering, what you think about the actual Things they going on at Apple? We were all very exited to see the MWSF via Sattelite here in Cork. Especially the Mac mini is a maybe a great step for Apple again - like the original Macintosh. An affordable Computer - finally. (We were not that exited about the iPod Shuffle. I work at the Technical Support and almost every Trouble-Call is a Windows User with iPod Issues ;) Thanks for all your Memories! Michael Fonfara Cork, Ireland (originally from Germany, so sorry for my bad English ;)
The book is great - I had thought of buying it and after the good review in TidBits I did - and am not sorry. I am frustrated, though, that the folklore site appears not to have been updated since January 2004 and the comments about releasing the software for others to purchase/use around March 2004 has not been updated... I have a project for which this would be a perfect solution - and I suspect tht others do, as well. Perhaps a few comments here about interest in the software will get the ball rolling? Good job, Andy. Peter Elias
Andy, I remember sitting in front of our Lisa, running the PDS Monitor and thumbing through my newly-arrived phone book copy of IM. I remember being completely amazed by the beautifully succinct and carefully constructed descriptions of an API that went leagues beyond the Lisa's already revolutionary interface. I think my jaw may have been partially open and my eyes slightly unfocused most of that afternoon. Our Lisa 1 had morphed into a Lisa 2 by then, with it's massive 10MB hard disk, but MacWorks was not an optimal way to run Macintosh programs. I wanted a Macintosh, but it would be three years before I could rationalize the purchase of a Macintosh SE and a Radius FPD. (During that interim our company ran primarily on an Apple ///, and my personal computer was an Apple //e, though the Lisa was in daily use in its Macintosh XL guise.) Like most Apple users I witnessed the birth of the Macintosh from afar and knew little of its origins other than the press' hyperbole. When I found <http://folklore.org> I was delighted to find insiders' accounts of the Macintosh's early development, and devoured the entire site within a few days. Thank you for creating this site and for compiling it into your book -- It made a wonderful read. Please continue to update your site with more stories by yourself and others. Best wishes, -=-Dennis
Great site (insanely so even) Just discovered it and spent all weekend reading from cover to cover as it were. Shall certainly order the book too. Just one question - I notice that the pre-discounted price at Amazon is $24.95 - was that intended to reflect the original Mac pricing? If so is there a mini version coming out for $4.99 any time soon?! Also I have a nice (and short) early mac anecdode of my own. My first computing lecture at university in '86 began with the lecturer putting a Mac Plus on a desk at the front and anouncing "This is a destop computer. We call it a desktop computer for two reasons. Firtly it's sitting on a desk and secondly&#226;&#128;&#166; (the mac chimes into life) &#226;&#128;&#166;on the screen is a desktop" he then went on to demonstrate the interface. A great introduction and one I've plaugurised many times since in my own classes. Thanks again for a great site, hope you get time to update it further soon. Best Wishes Geoffrey
Hello Andy, thank you and all the others very much for putting so much effort in not only creating this site and the book but in creating a wonderfull peace of history. I really hope that one day every high-school kid reads about those days in history class. Best wishes, J
Thanks very much for such an great book Andy - a truly amazing story brought to life like nothing else I've read about the era. Enough to make me go out and buy an old MacPlus as my bit of that history! - the very first Mac I used back in Oct '86 - and been lucky enough to use them at work and home ever since... regards Jeremy - downunder in Gondwanaland
Hi Andy, I just bought a copy of your book and I'm amazed! It's clearly one of the best books about the Apple history I've read. I'm very interested in computer history (Apple and Commodore are my favorites) and buying this book was the right decision. Making "1984" scenes on the title and back of the book is a nice feature! :-) I'm also glad that it's a hardcover edition & full of colors. I'm looking forword reading new stories on your website. Great work! Take care! Best regards from Germany - Patric
Hello Everyone! This is a request inspired by recent events in the Mac Universe. I know it's a different time period and group of people than has been written about/writing on this site, yet I am very curious about the events surronding the transition from 68K to PPC. Any Takers? Tak! Sven
In fact, Sven Robenspiel, I'm interested not only in the 68k-PPC transition, but in every big project in Apple (the creation of the first PowerBook and the very first iMac, the transition to MacOS X, in future this new transition to the Intel Architecture...). I know, Andy, this site is dedicated to the first Macintosh in history, but... what do you think about a very cool Apple (ex-)ingeniers talking small stories about their work? I think this formula is great, so... why should it be limitated only to the first Mac?
I bought the book this saturday and couldn't stop reading it - it's great work, thank you so much for the anecdotes :) It's great that you still have pictures and notes from that time - wonderful. Thanks also for building the most wonderful computer ever :)
Andy, What a great book! You really put the heart and soul into Macintosh. Thank-you, and all of the "characters" for changing our world. Kevin
Hi Andy. I just finished reading your book and It's really fantastic. Congratulations. You really managed to transport the reader to the middle of this incredible journey of creating a visionary personal computer. The way you write the stories either with a description of technical details of the process and with a lot of passion and emotional sense it's brilliant. Good luck. Best wishes, Daniel Gordon Rio de Janeiro/Brazil
Andy, Can I get a signed copy of your book "Revolution"? I can paypal you or send a Money order or I can purchase the book and send it to you for a inscription. I have been keeping my Macintosh collection alive for years and have quite a collection of hardware and software. I have your demo app "bouncing pepsi caps". I also have a 128k, a 512k with HD20, a plus and a classic. I have downloaded as much software and games and can repair the units when memory fails or a 400k drive gets sticky. I write software for credit card machines for a living Don in Scottsdale, Az.
Dear Mr Hertzfeld, I've been reading the stories on folklore.org for years and enjoy every one of them. After Mr Jobs' death last week I had been wondering why I felt such an impact, since although I have used and loved Macs for decades, I've not really participated in the iOS revolution at all. I do have a current MacBook Pro and find OS X continues the core Apple aesthetic. Anyway, I realised that my sadness came from the loss of one of my folk heroes from the early 80s, when I became obsessed by the Apple II at the age of 11 and saw my future as working on the Apple III or Apple IV once I could make it through school. It's the Apple spirit of the 70s and 80s which spoke so strongly to me as a kid, and as a result I came back to folklore.org to work through the process of understanding this. I work in a job which is very worthwhile to me, but this experience has motivated me to focus on the things which really excite me and which could make a difference, as you guys did. So thanks, and I've ordered the book. Cheers, Matthew.
Hello Andy, I am currently reading Steve Job's biography: many of your stories are briefly cited by Isaacson, but your original 'extended' versions are much more instructive indeed ! Thank you very much for your endeavor. Andy Cavallini, Italy http://www.gaia-matrix.com