What are the books or other sources that gave you the knowledge that contributed to the success of your business?

Possible Duplicate: What books do you recommend?

What are the must-read books/sites/blogs/articles for the people who start their small IT business? What would you suggest to pay particular attension to in those books?

I expect to find there both principles and more specific practical advices


asked Feb 12 '11 at 23:47
101 points

1 Answer


Ok, this answer is probably a bit off topic (it's more to do with inspiration as opposed to practical advice although that is in there as well). My references probably show my age and bias as well :)

Number 1 is the book 'The Soul of a New Machine ' by Tracy Kidder (link is to Wikipedia, you should be able to find it on Amazon or something). This book, with a heavy bent toward hardware, describes how a team of engineers developed the Data General Eclipse MV/8000 under some very extreme circumstances. Although this book describes people developing a system for a (at the time) large organisation it gave me a great appreciation for the sheer joy that can come from using your skills to create something used by many other people as well as the lengths you are willing to go to in order to achieve that. From memory there is a part in the book that describes an engineer rebuilding a previous product onto a single circuit board at home (a big sales advantage at the time) and then handing it all over to the company for release as a new version of that product. He was happy (he proved his point), the company was happy (they made more money) - these days he probably could have launched it as his own product.

Number 2 is the book 'Smalltalk 80: Bits of History, Words of Advice '. This book consists of articles describing the development of the Smalltalk language (an object-oriented language running on a virtual machine - sound familiar?) from 1970 through to 1980 at Xerox PARC. This is the basis of what we now understand as WIMP (Window, Icon, Menu, Pointing device) - Microsoft Windows, DR GEM and the Apple Mac were based on this work. It's a good reminder that everything old is new again and once again inspirational because these were people out to change the world rather than just make money (Xerox never really commercially exploited these developments). Imagine if these engineers were developing such new technology today in the era of such cheap hardware - they would make Google look like a corner store. Oh, that ethernet you are so fond of - also invented at PARC. If I say Xerox you are still thinking photocopiers though aren't you?

Finally for a website try Folklore.org - a collection of articles by the original Apple Macintosh team members. Even if you are not an Apple or Mac fan you have to agree that what that group achieved was something phenomenal for the time - this site covers it all (software and hardware development, the effect of management, inter-personal relationships, company politics and social interactions). All of these articles are written by people who are now millionaires because of what they did back then. It's a fascinating peek into a development environment that provided a lot of encouragement to success and severely punished failure (sound like a startup to you?).

Although these references may not give you the practical information you requested they may give you an insight to what drives you (or your co-founders). Although the technical details may be out of date I think the psychological drives and the personalities of the people who will be attracted to and involved in startups (where startups means introducing new ideas or a combining existing ideas into new ones) remains the same.


answered Feb 13 '11 at 01:08
Shane G
341 points

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