What the Dormouse Said

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
What the Dormouse Said
AuthorJohn Markoff
PublisherViking Press
Publication date
Media typePrint (book)
004.16 22
LC ClassQA76.17 .M37 2005

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry, is a 2005 non-fiction book by John Markoff. The book details the history of the personal computer, closely tying the ideologies of the collaboration-driven, World War II-era defense research community to the embryonic cooperatives and psychedelics use of the American counterculture of the 1960s.

The book follows the history chronologically, beginning with Vannevar Bush's description of his inspirational memex machine in his 1945 article "As We May Think". Markoff describes many of the people and organizations who helped develop the ideology and technology of the computer as we know it today, including Doug Engelbart, Xerox PARC, Apple Computer and Microsoft Windows.

Markoff argues for a direct connection between the counterculture of the late 1950s and 1960s (using examples such as Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, California) and the development of the computer industry. The book also discusses the early split between the idea of commercial and free-supply computing.

The main part of the title, "What the Dormouse Said," is a reference to a line at the end of the 1967 Jefferson Airplane song "White Rabbit": "Remember what the dormouse said: feed your head."[1] which is itself a reference to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lanier, Jaron (July 2010). "Early Computing's Long, Strange Trip. What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry. John Markoff" (Book review). American Scientist. 93 (4). Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. Scientists' Nightstand > Bookshelf Detail. Retrieved June 26, 2015. John Markoff's What the Dormouse Said (the title is taken from the lyrics of the Jefferson Airplane song "White Rabbit") tells the story of the important period when the personal computer and the Internet as we know them came into being. He also describes how a new culture of drugs, sex and rock and roll was created at the same time as the computers, sometimes in the same rooms, by some of the same people.

External links[edit]