Published: 04/22/2020
ISBN: 978-1450377577
Publisher: ACM Books
Length: 406 pages

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Code Nation: Personal Computing and the Learn to Program Movement in America

A new history of computer programming and the rise of PC user communities.

Code Nation explores the rise of software development as a social, cultural, and technical phenomenon in American history. Click here to read the first chapter.. The text offers a new history of personal computing that emphasizes the technical and business challenges that software developers faced when building applications for CP/M, MS-DOS, UNIX, Microsoft Windows, the Apple Macintosh, and other emerging platforms. Halvorson presents a popular history of computing that explores the experiences of novice computer users, tinkerers, hackers, and power users, as well as the ideals and aspirations of leading computer scientists, engineers, educators, and entrepreneurs.

Code Nation includes a “behind-the-scenes” look at application and operating-system programming practices, the diversity of historic computer languages, the rise of user communities, and early attempts to market PC software. The histories of Apple, Microsoft, and IBM are here, as well as the social movements that shaped personal computing and computer literacy debates in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Code samples and over 80 historic photographs support the text.


“Code Nation will be widely attractive to anyone who has wondered where personal computing came from.”

“This book shines a bright light on topics that have not yet received enough attention by historians, such as the writing of applications programs, operating-systems programming, and the marketing of software—not only through splashy media events but also via coordinated publishing programs in computer books and magazines.” 

-Pre-publication reviews of Code Nation

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