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Book Of The Year – And The Years: How The Oz Computer Biz Evolved

It’s bigger than Ben Hur, bigger even than Genesis – the first book of the Bible, which takes 38,262 words to describe the creation of heaven and earth and the troubles that befell the first humans.

A new book by Graeme Philipson, pictured, describing the history of the computer business in Australia, is rather more thorough. It takes no less than 120,000 words, spread across 277 pages, to tell this very fascinating story – and took GP more than a year to put together.

Titled A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing, it was commissioned by the Australian Computer Society and captures in vivid detail the history of the ICT industry in Australia, from its early inception in the 1940s through to the present.

And what a cast of characters parade through its 277 pages – from Trevor Pearcey who led the team building one of the world’s first digital computers, CSIRAC, to Geoff Huston – father of the Internet in Australia – and eventually Simon Hackett.

Malcolm Turnbull also gets a mention for arranging the massive 1999 sale of OzEmail to US based Worldcom in a deal which personally netted him $57 million-plus for his $500,000 investment.

Even the reptiles of the computer press get a chapter, with the efforts of pioneers like the late Frank Linton-Simkins, Sean Howard, David Richards, Susan “The Hat” Coleman, Gareth Powell, Paul Zucker and Jack Costello along with informed (and very much alive) commentators like Len Rust, well recorded. Even the 25-year-old CDN gets a few, very accurate, paragraphs on its 1992 birth.

Philipson has put a huge effort into this book, working with great detail and accuracy. It’s been a prodigious effort by one of the most knowledgeable journos and commentators in the business. Congrats, GP.

The book will be available online as a PDF download from acs.org.au on November 3. It’s hoped that a hardback edition may follow.  No IT business should be without a copy. – DF

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