Praised by reviewers

If you like this book, you’re not alone.

Praised by magazines

All the famous computer magazines call Russ Walter the “computer guru” and praise him for giving free consulting even in the middle of the night. Here’s how they’ve evaluated
The Secret Guide to Computers.

PC World “Russ is a PC pioneer, a trailblazer, the user’s champion. Nobody does a more thorough, practical, and entertaining job of teaching PC technology. It’s a generous compendium of industry gossip, buying advice, and detailed, foolproof tutorials — a wonderful bargain.”

PC Magazine “The Guide explains the computer industry, hardware, languages, operating systems, and applications in a knowledgeable, amusing fashion. It includes Russ’s unbiased view of the successes & failures of various companies, replete with inside gossip. By reading it, you’ll know more than many who make their living with PCs. Whether novice or expert, you’ll learn from it and have a good time doing so. No other computer book is a better value.”

Christian Computing Magazine “The Guide is the most comprehensive reference in the industry. What planet is Russ from? It must be populated with nice people. You’ll learn more from his Guide than from any 10 computer books you’ve ever read. To say this book is ‘comprehensive’ is a staggering understatement: nothing else in the industry even comes close. It’s worth triple what Russ charges for it.”

Infoworld “Russ is recognized and respected in many parts of the country as a knowledgeable, effective instructor. His Guide is readable & outrageous and includes a wealth of info.”

Scientific American “The Guide is irresistible. Every step leads to a useful result. Russ’s candor shines; he clarifies the faults & foibles others ignore or are vague about. The effect is that of a private chat with a friend who knows the inside story. It reads like a talented disc jockey’s patter: it’s flip, self-deprecatory, randy, and good-humored. His useful frank content & coherent style are unique. He includes first-rate advice. No room with a small computer and an adult beginner is well equipped without the Guide.”

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance “Russ is a computer whiz whose mission is to educate people about computers. He lets strangers call him in the middle of the night for help with diagnosing a sick computer. His Guide covers all you ever wanted to know.”

Computerworld “The Guide by unconventional computer guru Russ is informative, entertaining.”

Computer Shopper “The Guide covers the entire spectrum. It’s incredibly informative and amusing.”

Barron’s “Russ is an expert who answers questions for free and has been inundated by calls.”

Esquire “The handy Guide contains lots of fact & opinion untainted by bias.”

Classic magazines The Guide’s earlier editions were praised by the classic magazines.

Popular Computing: “Russ is king of the East Coast computer cognoscenti. His Guide is the biggest bargain in computer tutorials in our hemisphere. If CBS ever decides to replace Andy Rooney with a ‘60 Minutes’ computer pundit, they’d need to look no further than Russ. His wry observations enliven his book. His Guide is the first collection of computer writings that one might dare call literature.”

Personal Computing: “The Guide is bulging with information. You’ll enjoy it. Russ’s approach to text-writing sets a new style that other authors might do well to follow. It’s readable, instructive, and downright entertaining. If more college texts were written in his style, more college students would graduate.”

Creative Computing: “The Guide is fascinating, easy to understand, an excellent book at a ridiculously low price. We especially endorse it.”

Byte: “The Guide is amazing. If you’ve had difficulty understanding computers, or must teach other people about computers, or just want to read a good computer book, get the Guide.”

Computer Currents: “Your computer literacy will come up short unless you know something about Russ. He’s a folk hero. He knows virtually everything about personal computers and makes learning about them fun. If you’ve given up in disgust and dismay at reading other computer books, get the Guide. It should be next to every PC in the country. PC vendors would do themselves and their customers a big favor by packing a copy of the Guide with every computer that goes out the door. The Guide deserves the very highest recommendation.”

Abacus: “Russ provides the best current treatment of programming languages. It’s irreverent, like the underground books of the 1960’s. It’s simple to read, fast-paced, surprisingly complete, full of locker-room computer gossip, and loaded with examples.”

The Whole Earth Catalog in its “Coevolution Quarterly”: “The personal-computer subculture was noted for its fierce honesty in its early years. The Guide is one of the few intro books to continue that tradition and the only intro survey of equipment that’s kept up to date. Russ jokes, bitches, enthuses, condemns, and charms. The book tells the bald truth in comprehensible language.”

Omni: “Guru Russ sympathizes deeply with people facing a system crash at midnight, so he broadcasts his home phone number and answers calls by the light of his computers, cursors winking. He’s considered an excellent teacher. His Guide is utterly comprehensive.”

Cider Press: “The Guide should be given to all beginners with the purchase of their computers.”

Softalk: “The Guide fires well-deserved salvos at many sacred cows. It’s long been a cult hit.”

Computer Bargain Info: “The Guide is widely acclaimed by experts as brilliant.”

Mac User: “It’s an everything-under-one-roof computer technology guide.”

Eighty Micro: “Theatrical, madcap Russ is a cult hero.”

Interface Age: “The Guide is a best buy.”

Enter: “It’s the best book about computer languages.”

Microcomputing: “Plan ahead; get the Secret now.”

Compute: “Russ is an industry leader.”

Praised by librarians

Librarians have called the Guide the best computer book ever written.

School Library Journal “The Guide is a gold mine of information. It’s crystal clear, while at the same time Russ delivers a laugh a paragraph along with a lot of excellent info. It’s accessible even to kids, who’ll love its loony humor. Buy it; you’ll like it.”

Wilson Library Bulletin “The Guide is distinguished by its blend of clarity, organization, and humor. It cuts through the techno-haze. It packs more simple, fresh explication per page than anything else available.”

BookLovers Review “It’s the best computer intro you can buy, a miracle, a must-have tutorial & reference.”

Net BookWatch “Many experts around the world agree this is the best single intro to computers. It’s well organized, easy to understand, comprehensive, interesting, updated. Complex subjects are explained expertly. Every paragraph is easy to understand. With Russ as your guide, learning about hardware, software, and the Internet becomes pure fun. The Guide is essential reading for beginners and professionals.”

Praised by computer societies

Computer societies, in their newsletters, newspapers, and magazines, have called the Guide the best computer book.

Boston Computer Society “The Guide is cleverly graduated, outrageous, funny. Russ turns computerese into plain speaking while making you giggle. He’s years ahead of the pack instructing computer novices. His unique mix of zany humor & step-by-step instruction avoids the mistakes of manuals trying to follow his lead.”

Connecticut Computer Society “Russ’s books have been used by insiders for years. He’s a special teacher because of 3 factors: his comprehensive knowledge of many computer topics, his ability to break complicated processes into the smallest components, and his humor. The Guide includes his valuable, candid comments about various computers & software. He’s one of the few people able to review languages, machines, and software, all in a humorous, clear manner, with the whole endeavor set off by his sense of industry perspective, history, and culture. If you’re ever struck with a computer problem, give him a call.”

New England Computer Society “Russ is considered one of the few true computer gurus. His Guide is the world’s best tutorial, the best present for anyone who wants to learn about computers without going crazy.”

New York’s “NYPC” “The Guide is the perfect book for any computer beginner because it covers a range of subjects otherwise requiring a whole reference library. It’s even better for the experienced computer user, since it includes many advanced concepts, which one person could hardly remember. But one person apparently remembered them all: Russ. He’s a fountain of computer knowledge and can even explain it in words of one syllable. His Guide reads like a novel: you can read simply for fun. It’s recommended to anyone from rank beginner to seasoned power user.”

Texas’s “Golden Triangle PC Club” “Buy this book! You’ll be glad! The marvelous Guide explains just about all computer topics in a way anyone can understand. In these days of having to use voice mail or email to reach tech support, it’s amazing you can call Russ for help and he’ll actually talk with you when you call. This book gives you extreme value for minimal cost. Russ is famous for his comprehensive knowledge of computers, his ability to simplify complicated processes, and his wry wit. Reading the Guide’s a joy. He translates highly technical material into easily understandable language. He’s the finest example of the preeminent computer professional. He’s condensed so much material, in a way that never seems disorganized or cluttered. Anyone working with or interested in computers will find this book a must-have. The Guide stands above the crowd of computer books that just can’t compete.”

Sacramento (California) PC Users Group “The Guide is the best collection of computer help ever written. It includes just about everything you’d want to know about computers. You’ll find answers for all the questions you thought of and some you didn’t think of. No holds barred, Russ even tells you who in the industry made the mistakes & rotten computers and who succeeded in spite of themselves. The Guide is fascinating.”

Tucson (Arizona) Computer Society “Wonderful stuff! Recommended. Very well done.”

Praised around the world

The Guide’s been praised by newspapers around the world.

Australia’s “Sydney Morning Herald” “The Guide is the best computer intro published anywhere in the world. It gives a total overview of personal computers. It’s stimulating, educational, provocative, a damn good read.”

The Australian “The Guide’s coverage of programming is intelligent, urbane, extremely funny, full of great ideas.”

England’s “Manchester Guardian” “Russ is a welcome relief. The internationally renowned computer guru tries to keep computerdom’s honesty alive. His Guide’s an extraordinary source of info.”

Silicon Valley’s “Times Tribune” “The Guide invites you to throw aside all rules of conventional texts and plunge into the computer world naked & unafraid. This book makes learning not just fun but hilarious, inspiring, addicting.”

Dallas Times Herald “Easily the best beginners’ book seen, it’s not just for beginners. Its strength is how simple it makes everything, without sacrificing what matters.”

Detroit News “Russ is a legendary teacher. His fiercely honest Guide packs an incredible amount of info. It’s the only book that includes all. He gives you all the dirt about the companies and their hardware, evaluates their business practices, and exposes problems they try to hide. Phone him; you’ll always get a truthful answer.”

Chicago Tribune “The Guide is the best computer book. It’s a cornucopia of computer delights written by Russ, a great altruist & dreamer.”

Kentucky’s “Louisville Courier” “Russ’s Guide will teach you more computer fundamentals than the typical bookstore’s thick books. The Guide gives his no-bull insights. The Guide’s biggest appeal is its humor, wit, personality.”

Florida’s “Hometown News” The Guide is thoroughly entertaining. It brings intimidating tech issues down to everyday language. And boy, does it cover the topics! Everything from old systems to new modern workhorses is hit upon. If you’re looking for a book that touches on just about every aspect of computers and is easy to read, the Guide’s for you.”

Philadelphia Inquirer “Russ is the Ann Landers for computer klutzes, a high-tech hero. His wacky, massive Guide is filled with his folksy wit.”

New Jersey’s “Asbury Park Press” “Most computer books, especially the good ones, are expensive — except the best one. The best computer book is the Guide. It’s the only book that covers just about everything in computers.”

New York Times “The computer-obsessed will revel in Russ’s Guide. He covers just about every subject in the microcomputer universe. It’s unlikely you have a question his book doesn’t answer.”

Wall Street Journal “Russ is a computer expert, a guru who doesn’t mind phone calls. He brings religious-like fervor to the digital world. His students are grateful. His Guide gets good reviews. He’s influential.”

Connecticut’s “Hartford Courant” “If you plan to buy a personal computer, the best gift for yourself is the Guide. It’s crammed with info. It became an instant success as one of the few microcomputer books that was not only understandable & inexpensive but also witty — a combo still too rare today.”

New Hampshire’s “Hippo” “Very impressive.”

Boston Globe “Russ is a unique resource, important to beginning and advanced users. His Guide is practical, down-to-earth, easy to read.”

Boston Phoenix “Russ has achieved international cult status. He knows his stuff, and his comprehensive Guide’s a great deal.”


Fan mail

From our readers, we’ve received thousands of letters and phone calls, praising us. Here are examples.


Our books make readers go nuts.

Get high “I’m high! Not on marijuana, crack, or cocaine, but on what I did at my computer with your Guide.” (Beverly, Massachusetts)

Strange laughs “I enjoy the Guide immensely! My fellow workers think I’m strange because of all my laughing while reading it. Whenever I feel tired or bored, I pick up the Guide. It’s very refreshing!” (Acton, Massachusetts)

Poo-poo “I finished the book at 2:30 AM and had to sit down and send you a big THANK-YOU-poo. A poet I am not, crazy I was not, until I started 18 months ago with this computer and then came poo who sealed my lot.” (Hinesville, Georgia)

Computer dreams “Wow — I loved your book. My husband says I talk about computers in my sleep.” (Los Altos Hills, California)

Bedtime story “The book’s next to the bed, where my wife and I see who grabs it first. The loser must find something else to do, which often seriously degrades reading comprehension.” (Danville, New Hampshire)

Sex “Great book. Better than sex.” (Worcester, Massachusetts)

Devil “This book is great. It soars with the eagles and dances with the devil.” (Chicago)


Even beginners can master the Guide.

Godsend “You’re a godsend. You saved me from being bamboozled by the local computer store.” (Boston)

Saint “You should be canonized for bringing clarity and humor to a field often incomprehensible and dull.” (Houston)

Computer disease “I was scared to go near a computer. I thought I might catch something. Now I can’t wait.” (Paterson, New Jersey)

Face-off “I used to be an idiot. Now I can stare my computer in the face. Thanks.” (San Antonio, Texas)

Amaze the professor “I love the Guide! I’ve read it before taking a programming course, and I amaze my professor with my secret skills!” (Olney, Illinois)

Granny’s clammy “I’m a 58-year-old grandma. My daughter gave me a PC. After weeks of frustration I got your Guide. Now I’m happy as a clam at high tide, eager to learn more & more. Wow!” (Seattle)

Bury the Book of Songs “This is the microcomputer book that should be buried in a time capsule for future archaeologists. By reading it, I’ve made my computer sing. My wife recognizes the melodies and wants to read the book.” (Park Forest, Illinois)


Experts love the Guide.

PC Week reporter “I write for PC Week and think the Guide is the best book of its kind. I’m sending a copy to my little brother, who’s a budding byte-head.” (Boston)

Math professor “I’m a math professor. The Guide’s the best way in the universe to keep up to date with computers. People don’t have to read anything else — it’s all there.” (New York City)

Diehard consultant “It’s really neat! I’ve been a computer consultant for many years, and when your book came yesterday I couldn’t put it down.” (Cleveland Heights, Ohio)

Research center “Our research center uses and misuses gigabytes of computers. The Guide will improve our use/misuse ratio.” (Naperville, Illinois)


The Guide’s propelled many careers.

Land a first job “Last month, I bought your Guide. I’ve never seen so much info, packed so densely, in so entertaining a read. I was just offered a computer job, thanks to a presentation based on your Guide. I’m very, very, very happy I bought your book.” (San Francisco)

Land a top job “Thanks to the Guide, I got an excellent job guiding the selection of computers in a department of over 250 users!” (New York City)

Found Wall Street “8 years ago, I took your intro programming course. Now I run the computer department of a Wall Street brokerage firm. I’m responsible for 30 people and millions of dollars of computer equipment. The Guide’s always been my foremost reference. Thank you for the key to wonderful new worlds.” (Long Beach, New York)

Consultant’s dream “Inspired by your book, your love for computers, and your burning desire to show the world that computers are fun and easily accessible, I entered the computer field. Now I’m a computer consultant. Your ideas come from the heart. Thanks for following your dream.” (Skokie, Illinois)

Kid who grew up “Years ago, I saw you sell books while wearing a wizard’s cap. I bought a book and was as impressed as a 16-year-old could be. Now I’ve earned B.A.’s in Computer Science and English, and I’m contemplating teaching computers to high school students. I can think of no better way to plan a course outline than around your Guide.” (Pennington, New Jersey)

Better late than never

Readers wish they’d found the Guide sooner.

1 year “I learned more from the Guide than from a year in the computer industry.” (Redwood City , California)

5 years “I’ve fumbled for 5 years with computers and many books, all with short-lived flashes of enthusiasm, until I found your Guide. It’s the first book that showed a light at the end of the tunnel, even for one as dull-brained as I.” (Boise)

17 years “Though in a computer company for 17 years, I didn’t learn anything about computers until I began reading the Guide. I love it! I always thought computer people were generically boring, but your book’s changed my mind.” (Hopkinton, Massachusetts)

Prince Charming arrives “Where have you been all my life? I wish I’d heard of your Guide long ago. I’d have made far fewer mistakes if it had been here alongside my computer.” (White Stone, Virginia)

Hacker “Great book. I’m 14 and always wanted to hack. Thanks to your Guide, I laughed myself to death and look forward to gutting my computer. Yours is the friendliest, funniest book on computers I’ve seen. If I’d started out with the Guide, I’d have saved 5 years of fooling around in the dark.” (Northport, Alabama)


Readers pass the Guide to their friends.

Round the office “Send 150 books. I passed my Guide around the office, and just about everyone who saw it wants copies.” (Middleburg Heights, Ohio)

Coordinating the coordinators “Your book is amazing! I’m telling the other 50 PC coordinators in my company to be sure they’re in on the secret. Bless you for your magnanimous philosophy!” (Morristown, New Jersey)

Hide your secrets “I thought the Guide marvelous and proudly displayed it on my desk. A friend from South Africa saw it and said our friendship depended on letting her take it home with her. What could I do? You’ve gone international. I’m ordering another copy. Should I hide the book this time?” (Cinnaminson, New Jersey)

Cries and anger “I made the mistake of letting several friends borrow my copy of the Guide. Each time I tried getting it back, it was a battle. (I hate to see grown people cry.) I promised to order them copies of their own. I delayed several months, and now I’ve got an angry mob outside my door. While you process my order, I’ll try pacifying them by reading aloud.” (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)

Round the house “Dad bought your Guide to help him understand my computer. It’s become the most widely read book in our house. We love it!” (Boca Raton, Florida)

Squabble with Dad “I love the Guide. Dad & I squabble over our only copy. Send a second so I can finish the Guide in peace.” (New York City)

Make your guru giggle “I showed the Guide to my guru. Between laughs, chuckles, and guffaws, he agreed to use it to teach his high-school computer class. He even admitted he’d learned something, and that’s the most unheard of thing I ever heard of.” (Arivaca, Arizona)

Advancing secretary “I’m ordering an extra copy for my secretary, to start her on the path to a higher paying and better regarded position.” (Belleville, Illinois)

Compared with other publishers

The Guide’s better than any other book.

Better than 10 “I learned more from your Guide than from a total of 10 books read previously.” (Honolulu)

No big bucks “Your book is great! Its crazy style really keeps the pages turning. I appreciate someone who doesn’t try to make big bucks off someone trying to learn. Thanks.” (Vancouver, Washington)

Rip-off “If you can break even at your book’s low price, lots of guys are ripping us off.” (Choctaw, Oklahoma)