I just finished reading the book Programmers at Work by Susan Lammers.
It’s a unique book unlike most others I’ve read. Most of the books I read are practically oriented, how to do this, how to do that (in an abstract way, but still practical).
Programmers at Work contains interviews with 19 of the most influential computer programmers, written in the early 80’s. It’s an eye opener how similar the though processes, scenarios and development ideas where back then to what we’re used to today. They didn’t have nearly the same facilities at hand, neither hardware nor codewise, but the goals were the same. It’s fun to read some fundamental discussions about whether OS’s have a place at all, or whether they should simply be discarded (I guess that’d be the embedded devices of today).
While all interviewees are techy guys in one way or the other, there’s great diversity among them. Some are downright developers/architects while others work on the UI, graphics and even audio design.
There are lots of great war stories in most interviews, 40% of them about Apple - it really becomes clear how big a part Apple played back then, and how small they became for a period which seems to be nearing an end.
Leonard Richardson has a great writeup on where the original interviewees are at today.