1977-1987. Quando il computer divenne personal
Paolo Cognetti. Self published, 2014
Questo libro ricco di immagini ci racconta la storia della nascita e dell’infanzia del Personal Computer, una di quelle invenzioni straordinarie, come l’automobile o l’aeroplano, che hanno letteralmente cambiato la nostra vita. Come l’au-to e l’aereo, il Personal Computer nasce dalla passione e vi-sione di pochi che intravedono un potenziale non ancora concepito, o addirittura contrastato dalle strutture consoli-date. A metà degli anni Settanta, coloro che conoscevano bene il computer spesso deridevano l’idea di un computer personale: “che cosa se ne fa uno di un computer? Per avere sotto mano le ricette di cucina?” Per loro il computer non era niente di più che uno strumento di calcolo per gli addetti ai lavori. Come quasi sempre succede, per introdurre innovazioni nel mondo, in questo caso un oggetto che avrebbe rivoluziona-to il modo di lavorare, studiare e svagarsi di ciascuno di noi, occorrevano forze nuove, menti libere da preconcetti e rigi-dità, e tanta passione ed entusiasmo. E solo i giovani poteva-no ideare un prodotto così radicale che andava contro tutte le nozioni che gli esperti avevano di cos’è, e a cosa serve un computer.
A Few Good Men from UNIVAC
David E. Lundstrom. MIT Press, 1987
In this personal memoir, electrical engineer David Lundstrom recalls the heyday of early computing - the rise of Control Data out of the Univac division of Sperry Rand, such milestone computer systems as the Univac and the Naval Tactical Data System the exploits of CDC's top designer Seymour Cray, and the gradual corporate shift from the exciting and technically interesting world of computer design to internal politics and clumsy bureaucracy. David E. Lundstrom's career spanned 30 years with Sperry Rand Corp. (now a division of Unisys Corp.) and Control Data Corporation.
A History of Computing Technology
Michael R. Williams. Prentice Hall, 1985
A History of Computing Technology highlights the major advances in arithmetic from the beginning of counting, through the three most important developments in the subject: the invention of the zero, logarithms, and the electronic computer. It provides you with an understanding of how these ideas developed and why the latest tools are in their current forms. In addition, it tells many of the interesting stories about both the machines and the scientists who produced them. It focuses on the extraordinary accomplishments of those computer pioneers whose work will stand as proof of their genius and hard work.
A History of Modern Computing
Paul E. Ceruzzi. MIT Press, 1998
This engaging history covers modern computing from the development of the first electronic digital computer through the dot-com crash. The author concentrates on five key moments of transition: the transformation of the computer in the late 1940s from a specialized scientific instrument to a commercial product; the emergence of small systems in the late 1960s; the beginning of personal computing in the 1970s; the spread of networking after 1985; and, in a chapter written for this edition, the period 1995-2001. The new material focuses on the Microsoft antitrust suit, the rise and fall of the dot-coms, and the advent of open source software, particularly Linux. Within the chronological narrative, the book traces several overlapping threads: the evolution of the computer's internal design; the effect of economic trends and the Cold War; the long-term role of IBM as a player and as a target for upstart entrepreneurs; the growth of software from a hidden element to a major character in the story of computing; and the recurring issue of the place of information and computing in a democratic society. The focus is on the United States (though Europe and Japan enter the story at crucial points), on computing per se rather than on applications such as artificial intelligence, and on systems that were sold commercially and installed in quantities.
Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date
Robert X. Cringely. Addison-Wesley, 1992
Computer manufacturing is–after cars, energy production and illegal drugs–the largest industry in the world, and it's one of the last great success stories in American business. Accidental Empires is the trenchant, vastly readable history of that industry, focusing as much on the astoundingly odd personalities at its core–Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mitch Kapor, etc. and the hacker culture they spawned as it does on the remarkable technology they created. Cringely reveals the manias and foibles of these men (they are always men) with deadpan hilarity and cogently demonstrates how their neuroses have shaped the computer business. But Cringely gives us much more than high-tech voyeurism and insider gossip. From the birth of the transistor to the mid-life crisis of the computer industry, he spins a sweeping, uniquely American saga of creativity and ego that is at once uproarious, shocking and inspiring.
Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software
Charles Petzold. Microsoft Press, 1999
What do flashlights, the British invasion, black cats, and seesaws have to do with computers? In CODE, they show us the ingenious ways we manipulate language and invent new means of communicating with each other. And through CODE, we see how this ingenuity and our very human compulsion to communicate have driven the technological innovations of the past two centuries. Using everyday objects and familiar language systems such as Braille and Morse code, author Charles Petzold weaves an illuminating narrative for anyone who’s ever wondered about the secret inner life of computers and other smart machines. It’s a cleverly illustrated and eminently comprehensible story—and along the way, you’ll discover you’ve gained a real context for understanding today’s world of PCs, digital media, and the Internet. No matter what your level of technical savvy, CODE will charm you—and perhaps even awaken the technophile within.
Commodork: Sordid Tales from a BBS Junkie
Rob O'Hara. Lulu.com, 2011
For nearly two decades, computer-based Bulletin Board Systems were the primary method of communication between computer users. As suddenly as they gained popularity, they were made obsolete by the next big thing - a newfangled system called the Internet. Commodork: Sordid Tales from a BBS Junkie takes its readers on an exciting journey through the BBS era. Through the author's personal tales and adventures, readers will discover more about these amazing times and what it was like to grow up online. With tales of copyfests, BBS parties and random acts of online debauchery, those who were there will find themselves reminiscing, while those who weren't will enjoy learning about life ““before the 'net.”” You know, back when we used to modem uphill, both ways in the snow.
Computer: A History of the Information Machine
Martin Campbell-Kelly, William Aspray. Basic Books, 1996
Computer: A History of the Information Machine, Second Edition traces the story of the computer, and shows how business and government were the first to explore its unlimited, information-processing potential. Old-fashioned entrepreneurship combined with scientific know-how inspired now famous computer engineers to create the technology that became IBM. Wartime needs drove the giant ENIAC, the first fully electronic computer. Later, the PC enabled modes of computing that liberated people from room-sized, mainframe computers. This second edition now extends beyond the development of Microsoft Windows and the Internet, to include open source operating systems like Linux, and the rise again and fall and potential rise of the dot.com industries.
Computers: An Illustrated History
Christian Wurster. Taschen, 2002.
Remember your first computer? No doubt it now seems like a relic from the Flintstone era. From automated punch-card calculators to the first personal computers such as the Apple II and Commodore 64, to today's Sony Vaios and PowerBook G4s, the computer has undergone an amazing, rapid evolution in its brief history. Can you believe the computer's first input device was a light pen used to select a symbol on the screen? And that computer keyboards were preceded by teletypewriters? The progress we've witnessed in our lifetimes is mind-boggling. The struggle for the best interface, the greatest design, and the fastest processor have resulted in computers of a size, power, capability and use that were unfathomable only a few decades ago. Discover the fascinating history of computers, interfaces, and computer design in this illustrated guide that includes pictures of nearly every computer ever made, an informative text describing the computer's evolution up to the present day, and an A-Z index of the most influential computer firms.
Computers: The Life Story of a Technology
Eric G. Swedin, David L. Ferro. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007
A great technological and scientific innovation of the last half of the twentieth century, the computer has revolutionized how we organize information, how we communicate with each other, and even the way we think about the human mind. Computers have eased the drudgery of such tasks as calculating sums and clerical work, making them both more bearable and more efficient, whatever the occasional frustration they carry with them. The computer has become a standard fixture in our culture, a necessity for many aspects of business, recreation, and everyday life. In this book, Eric G. Swedin and David L. Ferro offer an accessible short history of this dynamic technology, covering its central themes from ancient times to the present day.
Computers in Space: Journeys with NASA
by James E. Tomayko. Alpha Books, 1994
A gorgeous visual tour of computer technology used in space flight. The book shows how computers contribute to each phase of the preparation and launch of spacecraft. At each relevant point, the historical background of a specific device or technique is explained and compared to the use of computers in earth-based applications.
Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers
Mark Richards, John Alderman, Dag Spicer. Chronicle Books, 2007
An unprecedented combination of computer history and striking images, Core Memory reveals modern technology's evolution through the world's most renowned computer collection, the Computer History Museum in the Silicon Valley. Vivid photos capture these historically important machines including the Eniac, Crays 1 3, Apple I and II while authoritative text profiles each, telling the stories of their innovations and peculiarities. Thirty-five machines are profiled in over 100 extraordinary color photographs, making Core Memory a surprising addition to the library of photography collectors and the ultimate geek-chic gift.
Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier
Katie Hafner, John Markoff. Simon Schuster, 1991
Using the exploits of three international hackers, Cyberpunk provides a fascinating tour of a bizarre subculture populated by outlaws who penetrate even the most sensitive computer networks and wreak havoc on the information they find – everything from bank accounts to military secrets. In a book filled with as much adventure as any Ludlum novel, the authors show what motivates these young hackers to access systems, how they learn to break in, and how little can be done to stop them.
Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age
Michael A. Hiltzik. Harper Business, 1999
While Gates, Jobs, and the other big boys of Silicon Valley are basking in the glory of the information age, renowned Los Angeles Times reporter Michael Hiltzik reveals how, back in the early '70s, a group of inventors at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) blazed the trail for all of today's indispensable technology from the PC to email to ATMs to meteorologists' weather maps. And they did it without fanfare or recognition from their employer. Hiltzik's Dealers of Lightning provides a fascinating look at technohistory that sets the record straight. In Dealers of Lightning, Hiltzik describes the forces and faces behind the revolution that the Xerox PARC team single-handedly spawned. The Xerox PARC group was composed solely of top technical minds. The decision was made at Xerox headquarters to give the team complete freedom from deadlines and directives, in hopes of fostering a true creative environment. It worked perhaps too well. The team responded with a steady output of amazing technology, including the first version of the Internet, the first personal computer, user-friendly word-processing programs, and pop-up menus. Xerox, far from ready for the explosion of innovation, failed to utilize the technology dreamed up by the group. Out of all the dazzling inventions born at Xerox PARC, only a handful were developed and marketed by Xerox. However, one of these inventions, the laser printer, proved successful enough to earn billions for the company, therefore justifying its investment in the research center. Most oftheteam's creations would go on to be developed and perfected by other companies, such as IBM, Apple, and Microsoft. Drawing from interviews with the engineers, executives, and scientists involved in the Xerox PARC, Dealers of Lightning chronicles an amazing era of egos, ideas, and inventions at the dawn of the computer age.
Digital Retro: The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer
Gordon Laing. Sybex Books, 2004
The late Seventies to the early Nineties was a completely unique period in the history of computing. Long before Microsoft and Intel ruled the PC world, a disparate variety of home computers, from an unlikely array of suppliers, were engaging in a battle that would shape the industry for years to come. Products from established electronics giants clashed with machines which often appeared to have been (or actually were) assembled in a backyard shed by an eccentric inventor. University professors were competing head to head with students in their parents' garages. Compatibility? Forget it! Each of these computers was its own machine and had no intention of talking to anything else. The same could be said of their owners, in fact, who passionately defended their machines with a belief that verged on the religious. This book tells the story behind 40 classic home computers of an infamous decade, from the dreams and inspiration, through passionate inventors and corporate power struggles, to their final inevitable demise. It takes a detailed look at every important computer from the start of the home computer revolution with the MITS Altair, to the NeXT cube, pehaps the last serious challenger in the personal computer marketplace. In the thirteen years between the launch of those systems, there has never been a more frenetic period of technical advance, refinement, and marketing, and this book covers all the important steps made on both sides of the Atlantic. Whether it's the miniaturization of the Sinclair machines, the gaming prowess of the Amiga, or the fermenting war between Apple Computer, “Big Blue,” and “the cloners,” we've got it covered. Digital Retro is an essential read for anyone who owned a home computer in the Eighties.
Endless Loop: The History of the BASIC Programming Language (Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code)
Mark Jones Lorenzo. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017
Endless Loop chronicles the complete history of the BASIC programming language–from its humble beginnings at Dartmouth College, to its widespread adoption and dominance in education, to its decline and subsequent modern rebirth. In the early morning hours of May 1, 1964, Dartmouth College birthed fraternal twins: BASIC, the Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code programming language, and, simultaneously, the Dartmouth Time-Sharing System (DTSS). It hadn't been an easy birth, and the gestation period was likewise difficult. BASIC was primarily the idea of one man, mathematics professor John Kemeny, a brilliant Hungarian mathematician who had once been an assistant to Albert Einstein, while the DTSS satisfied the vision of another, mathematics and statistics professor Thomas Kurtz, who had brought a democratizing spirit to Dartmouth's campus in the form of free computing for all. BASIC and DTSS caught on at Dartmouth quickly, with a vast majority of undergraduates (and faculty) making use of the computer system via teletypewriters only several years after its inception. But by the early 1970s, with the personal computer revolution fast approaching, Kemeny and Kurtz began to lose control over BASIC as it achieved widespread popularity outside of Dartmouth. The language was being adapted to run on a wide variety of computers, some much too short of memory to contain the full set of Dartmouth BASIC features. Most notably, Microsoft built its business on the back of ROM-based BASIC interpreters for a variety of microcomputers. Although the language was ubiquitous in schools by the early 1980s, it came under attack by such notables as computer scientist Edsger W. Dijkstra for its lack of structure as well as by Kemeny and Kurtz themselves, who viewed non-Dartmouth “Street BASIC” as blasphemous and saw it as their mission to right the ship through language standardization and the release of True BASIC. But by then it was too late: the era of BASIC's global dominance was over. In Endless Loop, author Mark Jones Lorenzo documents the history and development of Dartmouth BASIC, True BASIC, Tiny BASIC, Microsoft BASIC–including Altair BASIC, Applesoft BASIC, Color BASIC, Commodore BASIC, TRS-80 Level II BASIC, TI BASIC, IBM BASICA/GW-BASIC, QuickBASIC/QBASIC, Visual Basic, and Small Basic–as well as 9845 BASIC, Atari BASIC, BBC BASIC, CBASIC, Locomotive BASIC, MacBASIC, QB64, Simons' BASIC, Sinclair BASIC, SuperBASIC, and Turbo Basic/PowerBASIC, among a number of other implementations. The ascendance of BASIC paralleled the emergence of the personal computer, so the story of BASIC is first and foremost a story–actually, many interlocking stories–about computers. But it is also a tale of talented people who built a language out of a set of primal ingredients: sweat, creativity, rivalry, jealousy, cooperation, and plain hard work, and then set the language loose in a world filled with unintended consequences. How those unintended consequences played out, leading to the demise of the most popular computer language the world has ever known, is the focus of Endless Loop.
Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer
Paul Freiberger, Michael Swaine. Osborne Publishing, 1984
In the 1970s, while their contemporaries were protesting the computer as a tool of dehumanization and oppression, a motley collection of college dropouts, hippies, and electronics fanatics were engaged in something much more subversive. Obsessed with the idea of getting computer power into their own hands, they launched from their garages a hobbyist movement that grew into an industry, and ultimately a social and technological revolution. What they did was invent the personal computer: not just a new device, but a watershed in the relationship between man and machine. This is their story. Fire in the Valley is the definitive history of the personal computer, drawn from interviews with the people who made it happen, written by two veteran computer writers who were there from the start. Working at InfoWorld in the early 1980s, Swaine and Freiberger daily rubbed elbows with people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates when they were creating the personal computer revolution. A rich story of colorful individuals, Fire in the Valley profiles these unlikely revolutionaries and entrepreneurs, such as Ed Roberts of MITS, Lee Felsenstein at Processor Technology, and Jack Tramiel of Commodore, as well as Jobs and Gates in all the innocence of their formative years.
From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: A History of the Software Industry
Martin Campbell-Kelly. MIT Press, 2003
A business history of the software industry from the days of custom programming to the age of mass-market software and video games. From its first glimmerings in the 1950s, the software industry has evolved to become the fourth largest industrial sector of the US economy. Starting with a handful of software contractors who produced specialized programs for the few existing machines, the industry grew to include producers of corporate software packages and then makers of mass-market products and recreational software. This book tells the story of each of these types of firm, focusing on the products they developed, the business models they followed, and the markets they served. By describing the breadth of this industry, Martin Campbell-Kelly corrects the popular misconception that one firm is at the center of the software universe. He also tells the story of lucrative software products such as IBM's CICS and SAP's R/3, which, though little known to the general public, lie at the heart of today's information infrastructure.With its wealth of industry data and its thoughtful judgments, this book will become a starting point for all future investigations of this fundamental component of computer history.
Glory and Failure: The Difference Engines of Johann Müller, Charles Babbage, and Georg and Edvard Sheutz
Michael Lindgren, Craig G. McKay. MIT Press, 1990
The first attempts to mechanize the production of numerical tables were remarkable in conception coming at a time when a “computer” was in fact a person rather than a machine. This book is the first to provide a unified picture of the difference engines that were the mechanical predecessors of today's digital computer, to emphasize them as part of the history of numerical tables, and to give equal weight to the technical and social aspects of their creation.Lindgren analyzes the difference engines of Müller and Babbage and the mathematical principles on which they are based, tells the story of how Georg and Edvard Scheutz learned about Babbage's engine, discusses the design and operation of the Scheutzs' machine, and tells why Babbage failed technically and the Scheutzes failed commercially. The often detailed technical descriptions bring to light the inventors' own ways of thinking as work on the engines progressedMichael Lindgren is Curator at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm.
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
Steven Levy. Anchor Press / Doubleday, 1984
Steven Levy's classic book traces the exploits of the computer revolution's original hackers - those brilliant and eccentric nerds from the late 1950s through the early '80s who took risks, bent the rules, and pushed the world in a radical new direction. With updated material from noteworthy hackers such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Stallman, and Steve Wozniak, Hackers is a fascinating story that begins in early computer research labs and leads to the first home computers. Levy profiles the imaginative brainiacs who found clever and unorthodox solutions to computer engineering problems. They had a shared sense of values, known as “the hacker ethic” that still thrives today. Hackers captures a seminal period in recent history when underground activities blazed a trail for today's digital world, from MIT students finagling access to clunky computer-card machines to the DIY culture that spawned the Altair and the Apple II.
Makin' Numbers: Howard Aiken and the Computer
I. Bernard Cohen, Robert V. Campbell. MIT Press, 1999
With the cooperation of Robert V. D. Campbell. This collection of technical essays and reminiscences is a companion volume to I. Bernard Cohen's biography, Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer. After an overview by Cohen, Part I presents the first complete publication of Aiken's 1937 proposal for an automatic calculating machine, which was later realized as the Mark I, as well as recollections of Aiken's first two machines by the chief engineer in charge of construction of Mark II, Robert Campbell, and the principal programmer of Mark I, Richard Bloch. Henry Tropp describes Aiken's hostility to the exclusive use of binary numbers in computational systems and his alternative approach. Part II contains essays on Aiken's administrative and teaching styles by former students Frederick Brooks and Peter Calingaert and an essay by Gregory Welch on the difficulties Aiken faced in establishing a computer science program at Harvard. Part III contains recollections by people who worked or studied with Aiken, including Richard Bloch, Grace Hopper, Anthony Oettinger, and Maurice Wilkes. Henry Tropp provides excerpts from an interview conducted just before Aiken's death. Part IV gathers the most significant of Aiken's own writings. The appendixes give the specs of Aiken's machines and list his doctoral students and the topics of their dissertations.
Memories that Shaped an Industry: Decisions Leading to IBM System/360
Emerson W. Pugh. MIT Press, 1984
Development of ferrite core memory technology during the 1950s was probably the most important innovation that made stored-program computers a commercial reality. IBM's leadership in this development made possible the introduction in 1964 of the IBM System/360, which was so widely copied that it became a standard for electronic stored-program computers that have become so much a part of American life. This book provides a rare and candid glimpse into the innovations as well as the immense risks and imprecisions sometimes involved in technical decision making. It identifies the basic characteristics of technology management that the author believes accounted for IBM's success during this period, and gives a balanced view of the contributions by talented scientists and engineers both within and outside the company. The book chronicles a twenty-five-year period during which IBM evolved from the position of leading supplier of electromechanical punched-card equipment to dominance in the field of electronic computers. It describes IBM's response to the postwar challenge of electronics, its highly successful cooperative effort with MIT on an automated air defense system, the introduction of commercial ferrite core memories, developments and decisions leading to System/360, and the manufacturing problems posed by System/360's success.
Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet
Michael Hauben, Ronda Hauben, Thomas Truscott. Wiley-IEEE Computer Society PR, 1997
Netizens looks at the creation and development of the participatory global computer network: The Internet. Michael Hauben and Ronda Hauben conducted research online to find out what makes the Internet “tick” resulting in this fascinating examination of the pioneering vision and actions that have helped make the Net possible. Netizens is a detailed description of the Net's construction and a step-by-step view of the past, present, and future of Usenet and the Internet. The book gives you the needed perspective to understand how the Net can impact the present and the future of our society. Netizens answers these questions: What is the vision that inspired or guided these people at each step? What was the technical or social problem or need that they were trying to solve? What can be done to help nourish the future extension and development of the Net? How can the Net be made available to a broader set of people?
Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The rise and fall of Sierra On-Line
Ken Williams. Self published, 2020
Sierra On-Line was one of the very first computer game companies and at one time dominated the industry. The author, Ken Williams, founded Sierra On-Line Sierra with his wife Roberta who went on to create many of the company’s best-selling games. Sierra grew from just Ken and Roberta to over one thousand employees and a fan base that still exists today, despite the fact that the company was torn apart by criminal activities, scandal and corruption that resulted in jail sentences and the collapse of Sierra. This is the behind-the-scenes story of the rise and fall, as it could only be told by the ultimate insider.
P101. Quando l'Italia inventò il personal computer
Pier Giorgio Perotto. Edizioni di Comunità, 2015
Nel 1964 Pier Giorgio Perotto e i suoi collaboratori progettarono e realizzarono la Programma 101, il primo personal compu- ter al mondo. Un calcolatore pensato per tutti, che prevedeva un rapporto diretto, personale, tra l’utente e la macchina, o, per dirla in termini più ideali, tra l’uomo e la tecnologia. Questo computer da scrivania prodotto a Ivrea fu usato dalla NASA per la missione Apollo 11, dimostrando nei fatti che progettare a misura d’uomo è ciò che permette all’umanità di giungere a mete prima ritenute inarrivabili. P101 è quindi il racconto di un successo italiano, la storia di un gruppo di uomini che inseguirono il futuro e, in qualche modo, un’idea di libertà.Pier Giorgio Perotto (1930-2002) è l’inventore della Programma 101. Tra gli anni Sessanta e gli anni Settanta fu a capo della Ricerca e Sviluppo Olivetti e proseguì poi la sua attività dirigendo grandi aziende come Elea e dando vita, da imprenditore, a importanti società di ricerca, innovazione e consulenza, tra cui Finsa.
Pioneers of Soviet Computing
Boris Nikolaevich Malinovsky. SIGCIS, 2010
Boris N. Malinovsky’s Pioneers of Soviet Computing is the English language version of his earlier Russian language The History of Computing in Personalities. Partly technical history and partly a memoir, it is the only existing first person account of the birth of modern computing in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. It chronicles the life and work of renowned Soviet computer scientists S.A. Lebedev, V.M. Glushkov, N.P. Brusentsov, I.S. Brook, and many others. It describes numerous indigenous and original Soviet computer hardware projects from the end of the Second World War through the decades that followed, interlaced with commentary on the Soviet political and social systems that constrained rapid and free technological advancement. In addition, this work reviews the various Russian and Ukrainian computing schools ranging from the highly philosophical cybernetics and artificial intelligence to the applied defense computing institutions supporting the military and weapons enterprises. The epic effort to mass produce the Unified System (ES) series of computers – based on the IBM 360 design - is described in depth, along with the political and bureaucratic intrigue and personal and technological struggles that accompanied.
Recoding Gender: Women's Changing Participation in Computing
Janet Abbate. MIT Press, 2012
Today, women earn a relatively low percentage of computer science degrees and hold proportionately few technical computing jobs. Meanwhile, the stereotype of the male “computer geek” seems to be everywhere in popular culture. Few people know that women were a significant presence in the early decades of computing in both the United States and Britain. Indeed, programming in postwar years was considered woman's work (perhaps in contrast to the more manly task of building the computers themselves). In “Recoding Gender,” Janet Abbate explores the untold history of women in computer science and programming from the Second World War to the late twentieth century. Demonstrating how gender has shaped the culture of computing, she offers a valuable historical perspective on today's concerns over women's underrepresentation in the field. Abbate describes the experiences of women who worked with the earliest electronic digital computers: Colossus, the wartime codebreaking computer at Bletchley Park outside London, and the American ENIAC, developed to calculate ballistics. She examines postwar methods for recruiting programmers, and the 1960s redefinition of programming as the more masculine “software engineering.” She describes the social and business innovations of two early software entrepreneurs, Elsie Shutt and Stephanie Shirley; and she examines the career paths of women in academic computer science. Abbate's account of the bold and creative strategies of women who loved computing work, excelled at it, and forged successful careers will provide inspiration for those working to change gendered computing culture.
Stan Veit's History Of The Personal Computer
Stan Veit. WorldComm, 1993
The fascinating history of the personal computer from Altair to the IBM PC revolution. Written by computer legend Stan Veit, who turned Computer Shopper into the world's largest computer magazine.
Strategic Computing: Darpa and the Quest for Machine Intelligence, 1983-1993
Alex Roland. MIT Press, 2002 The story of the U.S. Department of Defense's extraordinary effort, in the period from 1983 to 1993, to achieve machine intelligence. This is the story of an extraordinary effort by the U.S. Department of Defense to hasten the advent of “machines that think.” From 1983 to 1993, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) spent an extra $1 billion on computer research aimed at achieving artificial intelligence. The Strategic Computing Initiative (SCI) was conceived as an integrated plan to promote computer chip design and manufacture, computer architecture, and artificial intelligence software. What distinguished SCI from other large-scale technology programs was that it self-consciously set out to advance an entire research front. The SCI succeeded in fostering significant technological successes, even though it never achieved machine intelligence. The goal provided a powerful organizing principle for a suite of related research programs, but it did not solve the problem of coordinating these programs. In retrospect, it is hard to see how it could have.In Strategic Computing, Alex Roland and Philip Shiman uncover the roles played in the SCI by technology, individuals, and social and political forces. They explore DARPA culture, especially the information processing culture within the agency, and they evaluate the SCI's accomplishments and set them in the context of overall computer development during this period. Their book is an important contribution to our understanding of the complex sources of contemporary computing.
The Best of 2600: A Hacker Odyssey
Emmanuel Goldstein, Jeff Vorzimmer. Wiley Publishing, 2008
Since 1984, the quarterly magazine 2600 has provided fascinating articles for readers who are curious about technology. Find the best of the magazine's writing in Best of 2600: A Hacker Odyssey, a collection of the strongest, most interesting, and often most controversial articles covering 24 years of changes in technology, all from a hacker's perspective. Included are stories about the creation of the infamous tone dialer “red box” that allowed hackers to make free phone calls from payphones, the founding of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the insecurity of modern locks.
The Computer, from Pascal to von Neumann
Herman H. Goldstine. Princeton University Press, 1972
In 1942, Lt. Herman H. Goldstine, a former mathematics professor, was stationed at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. It was there that he assisted in the creation of the ENIAC, the first electronic digital computer. The ENIAC was operational in 1945, but plans for a new computer were already underway. The principal source of ideas for the new computer was John von Neumann, who became Goldstine's chief collaborator. Together they developed EDVAC, successor to ENIAC. After World War II, at the Institute for Advanced Study, they built what was to become the prototype of the present-day computer. Herman Goldstine writes as both historian and scientist in this first examination of the development of computing machinery, from the seventeenth century through the early 1950s. His personal involvement lends a special authenticity to his narrative, as he sprinkles anecdotes and stories liberally through his text.
The Computer Boys Take Over: Computers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise
Nathan L. Ensmenger. MIT Press, 2010
This is a book about the computer revolution of the mid-twentieth century and the people who made it possible. Unlike most histories of computing, it is not a book about machines, inventors, or entrepreneurs. Instead, it tells the story of the vast but largely anonymous legions of computer specialists–programmers, systems analysts, and other software developers–who transformed the electronic computer from a scientific curiosity into the defining technology of the modern era. As the systems that they built became increasingly powerful and ubiquitous, these specialists became the focus of a series of critiques of the social and organizational impact of electronic computing. To many of their contemporaries, it seemed the “computer boys” were taking over, not just in the corporate setting, but also in government, politics, and society in general. In “The Computer Boys Take Over,” Nathan Ensmenger traces the rise to power of the computer expert in modern American society. His rich and nuanced portrayal of the men and women (a surprising number of the “computer boys” were, in fact, female) who built their careers around the novel technology of electronic computing explores issues of power, identity, and expertise that have only become more significant in our increasingly computerized society. In his recasting of the drama of the computer revolution through the eyes of its principle revolutionaries, Ensmenger reminds us that the computerization of modern society was not an inevitable process driven by impersonal technological or economic imperatives, but was rather a creative, contentious, and above all, fundamentally human development.
The Computer Revolution in Canada: Building National Technological Competence
John N. Vardalas. MIT Press, 2001
After World War II, other major industrialized nations responded to the technological and industrial hegemony of the United States by developing their own design and manufacturing competence in digital electronic technology. In this book John Vardalas describes the quest for such competence in Canada, exploring the significant contributions of the civilian sector but emphasizing the role of the Canadian military in shaping radical technological change. As he shows, Canada's determination to be an active participant in research and development work on advanced weapons systems, and in the testing of those weapons systems, was a cornerstone of Canadian technological development during the years 1945-1980. Vardalas presents case studies of such firms as Ferranti-Canada, Sperry Gyroscope of Canada, and Control Data of Canada. In contrast to the standard nationalist interpretation of Canadian subsidiaries of transnational corporations as passive agents, he shows them to have been remarkably innovative and explains how their aggressive programs to develop all-Canadian digital R&D and manufacturing capacities influenced technological development in the United States and in Great Britain. While underlining the unprecedented role of the military in the creation of peacetime scientific and technical skills, Vardalas also examines the role of government and university research programs, including Canada's first computerized systems for mail sorting and airline reservations. Overall, he presents a nuanced account of how national economic, political, and corporate forces influenced the content, extent, and direction of digital innovation in Canada.
The First Computers--History and Architectures
Raul Rojas. MIT Press, 2000
This history of computing focuses not on chronology (what came first and who deserves credit for it) but on the actual architectures of the first machines that made electronic computing a practical reality. The book covers computers built in the United States, Germany, England, and Japan. It makes clear that similar concepts were often pursued simultaneously and that the early researchers explored many architectures beyond the von Neumann architecture that eventually became canonical. The contributors include not only historians but also engineers and computer pioneers.An introductory chapter describes the elements of computer architecture and explains why “being first” is even less interesting for computers than for other areas of technology. The essays contain a remarkable amount of new material, even on well-known machines, and several describe reconstructions of the historic machines. These investigations are of more than simply historical interest, for architectures designed to solve specific problems in the past may suggest new approaches to similar problems in today's machines.
The Government Machine: A Revolutionary History of the Computer
Jon Agar. MIT Press, 2003
In The Government Machine, Jon Agar traces the mechanization of government work in the United Kingdom from the nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. He argues that this transformation has been tied to the rise of “expert movements,” groups whose authority has rested on their expertise. The deployment of machines was an attempt to gain control over state action – a revolutionary move. Agar shows how mechanization followed the popular depiction of government as machine-like, with British civil servants cast as components of a general purpose “government machine”; indeed, he argues that today's general purpose computer is the apotheosis of the civil servant. Over the course of two centuries, government has become the major repository and user of information; the Civil Service itself can be seen as an information-processing entity. Agar argues that the changing capacities of government have depended on the implementation of new technologies, and that the adoption of new technologies has depended on a vision of government and a fundamental model of organization. Thus, to study the history of technology is to study the state, and vice versa.
The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier
Bruce Sterling. Bantam, 1992
An investigation into the rising tide of electronic crimes probes into the issues and personalities on both sides of the law who are involved in wire fraud, 800-number abuse, and computer break-ins that threaten national security. 50,000 first printing.
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick. Pantheon Books, 2011
James Gleick, the author of the best sellers Chaos and Genius, now brings us a work just as astonishing and masterly: a revelatory chronicle and meditation that shows how information has become the modern era’s defining quality—the blood, the fuel, the vital principle of our world. The story of information begins in a time profoundly unlike our own, when every thought and utterance vanishes as soon as it is born. From the invention of scripts and alphabets to the long-misunderstood talking drums of Africa, Gleick tells the story of information technologies that changed the very nature of human consciousness. He provides portraits of the key figures contributing to the inexorable development of our modern understanding of information: Charles Babbage, the idiosyncratic inventor of the first great mechanical computer; Ada Byron, the brilliant and doomed daughter of the poet, who became the first true programmer; pivotal figures like Samuel Morse and Alan Turing; and Claude Shannon, the creator of information theory itself. And then the information age arrives. Citizens of this world become experts willy-nilly: aficionados of bits and bytes. And we sometimes feel we are drowning, swept by a deluge of signs and signals, news and images, blogs and tweets. The Information is the story of how we got here and where we are heading.
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
Walter Isaacson. Simon & Schuster, 2014
The computer and the internet are among the most important innovations of our era, but few people know who created them. They were not conjured up in a garret or garage by solo inventors suitable to be singled out on magazine covers or put into a pantheon with Edison, Bell, and Morse. Instead, most of the innovations of the digital age were done collaboratively. There were a lot of fascinating people involved, some ingenious and a few even geniuses. This is the story of these pioneers, hackers, inventors, and entrepreneurs—who they were, how their minds worked, and what made them so creative. It’s also a narrative of how they collaborated and why their ability to work as teams made them even more creative.
The Mysterious Affair at Olivetti: IBM, the CIA, and the Cold War Conspiracy to Shut Down Production of the World’s First Desktop Computer
Meryle Secrest. Knopf, 2019
The never-before-told true account of the design and development of the first desktop computer by the world’s most famous high-styled typewriter company, more than a decade before the arrival of the Osborne 1, the Apple 1, the first Intel microprocessor, and IBM’s PC5150. The human, business, design, engineering, cold war, and tech story of how the Olivetti company came to be, how it survived two world wars and brought a ravaged Italy back to life, how after it mastered the typewriter business with the famous “Olivetti touch,” it entered the new, fierce electronics race; how its first desktop compter, the P101, came to be; how, within eighteen months, it had caught up with, and surpassed, IBM, the American giant that by then had become an arm of the American government, developing advanced weapon systems; Olivetti putting its own mainframe computer on the market with its desktop prototype, selling 40,000 units, including to NASA for its lunar landings. How Olivetti made inroads into the US market by taking control of Underwood of Hartford CT as an assembly plant for Olivetti’s own typewriters and future miniaturized personal computers; how a week after Olivetti purchased Underwood, the US government filed an antitrust suit to try to stop it; how Adriano Olivetti, the legendary idealist, socialist, visionary, heir to the company founded by his father, built the company into a fantastical dynasty–factories, offices, satellite buildings spread over more than fifty acres–while on a train headed for Switzerland in 1960 for supposed meetings and then to Hartford, never arrived, dying suddenly of a heart attack at fifty-eight . . . how eighteen months later, his brilliant young engineer, who had assembled Olivetti’s superb team of electronic engineers, was killed, as well, in a suspicious car crash, and how the Olivetti company and the P101 came to its insidious and shocking end.
The Routledge Companion to Media Technology and Obsolescence
Mark J.P. Wolf, AA.VV. Routledge, 2018
While so many books on technology look at new advances and digital technologies, The Routledge Companion to Media Technology and Obsolescence looks back at analog technologies that are disappearing, considering their demise and what it says about media history, pop culture, and the nature of nostalgia. From card catalogs and typewriters to stock tickers and cathode ray tubes, contributors examine the legacy of analog technologies, including those, like vinyl records, that may be experiencing a resurgency. Each essay includes a brief history of the technology leading up to its peak, an analysis of the reasons for its decline, and a discussion of its influence on newer technologies.
The Soul of a New Machine
Tracy Kidder. Little, Brown and Company, 1981
Computers have changed since 1981, when The Soul of a New Machine first examined the culture of the computer revolution. What has not changed is the feverish pace of the high-tech industry, the go-for-broke approach to business that has caused so many computer companies to win big (or go belly up), and the cult of pursuing mind-bending technological innovations. The Soul of a New Machine is an essential chapter in the history of the machine that revolutionized the world in the twentieth century.
The Story of the Computer: A Technical and Business History
Stephen Marshall. Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017
Electronic computers are arguably the greatest invention of the 20th century. They are the enablers for many of the technologies that the developed world now relies upon and their impact on society cannot be overestimated. The story of their creation is a fascinating one which encompasses many of the great advances in engineering, mathematics and the physical sciences that have taken place over the past 400 years. The Story of the Computer is the first comprehensive treatment of the subject written from both a technical and a business perspective. It sets out to chart the complex evolutionary process that has resulted in the creation of today's computers, picking out those innovations and discoveries which contributed most to the pool of knowledge through their influence on later advances and taking into consideration the business drivers as well as the specific technical breakthroughs. To put developments into context and provide a more rounded picture, it also covers the advances in science and technology, or 'building blocks', which have facilitated them. The book is divided into four parts, beginning with humanity's earliest efforts to automate the process of calculation, first through mechanical means, then electromechanical and finally electronic. Part two describes the transformation from sequence-controlled calculators to stored-program computers and the birth of the computer industry. In part three we see the industry maturing and new market segments beginning to emerge for faster or smaller computers, facilitated by the introduction of solid-state components. The final part brings the story up to date with the development of mass-produced personal computers, computer graphics and the World Wide Web. Written in a highly accessible style with illustrations throughout, The Story of the Computer should provide a rewarding read for both the specialist and the general reader.
The Universal History of Computing: From the Abacus to the Quantum Computer
Georges Ifrah. Wiley, 2000
In this brilliant follow-up to his landmark international bestseller, The Universal History of Numbers, Georges Ifrah traces the development of computing from the invention of the abacus to the creation of the binary system three centuries ago to the incredible conceptual, scientific, and technical achievements that made the first modern computers possible. Ifrah takes us along as he visits mathematicians, visionaries, philosophers, and scholars from every corner of the world and every period of history. We learn about the births of the pocket calculator, the adding machine, the cash register, and even automata. We find out how the origins of the computer can be found in the European Renaissance, along with how World War II influenced the development of analytical calculation. And we explore such hot topics as numerical codes and the recent discovery of new kinds of number systems, such as “surreal” numbers. Adventurous and enthralling, The Universal History of Computing is an astonishing achievement that not only unravels the epic tale of computing, but also tells the compelling story of human intelligence–and how much further we still have to go.
Troublemakers: Silicon Valley's Coming of Age
Leslie Berlin. Simon & Schuster, 2017
The narrative of the Silicon Valley generation that launched five major high-tech industries in seven years, laying the foundation for today’s technology-driven world. At a time when the five most valuable companies on the planet are high-tech firms and nearly half of Americans say they cannot live without their cell phones, Troublemakers reveals the untold story of how we got here. This is the gripping tale of seven exceptional men and women, pioneers of Silicon Valley in the 1970s and early 1980s. Together, they worked across generations, industries, and companies to bring technology from Pentagon offices and university laboratories to the rest of us. In doing so, they changed the world. In Troublemakers, historian Leslie Berlin introduces the people and stories behind the birth of the Internet and the microprocessor, as well as Apple, Atari, Genentech, Xerox PARC, ROLM, ASK, and the iconic venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. In the space of only seven years and thirty-five miles, five major industries—personal computing, video games, biotechnology, modern venture capital, and advanced semiconductor logic—were born. During these same years, the first ARPANET transmission came into a Stanford lab, the university began licensing faculty innovations to businesses, and the Silicon Valley tech community began mobilizing to develop the lobbying clout and influence that have become critical components of modern American politics. In other words, these were the years when one of the most powerful pillars of our modern innovation and political systems was first erected. Featured among well-known Silicon Valley innovators like Steve Jobs, Regis McKenna, Larry Ellison, and Don Valentine are Mike Markkula, the underappreciated chairman of Apple who owned one-third of the company; Bob Taylor, who kick-started the Arpanet and masterminded the personal computer; software entrepreneur Sandra Kurtzig, the first woman to take a technology company public; Bob Swanson, the cofounder of Genentech; Al Alcorn, the Atari engineer behind the first wildly successful video game; Fawn Alvarez, who rose from an assembler on a factory line to the executive suite; and Niels Reimers, the Stanford administrator who changed how university innovations reach the public. Together, these troublemakers rewrote the rules and invented the future.
Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe
George Dyson. Pantheon, 2012
In this revealing account of how the digital universe exploded in the aftermath of World War II, George Dyson illuminates the nature of digital computers, the lives of those who brought them into existence, and how code took over the world. In the 1940s and ‘50s, a small group of men and women—led by John von Neumann—gathered in Princeton, New Jersey, to begin building one of the first computers to realize Alan Turing’s vision of a Universal Machine. The codes unleashed within this embryonic, 5-kilobyte universe—less memory than is allocated to displaying a single icon on a computer screen today—broke the distinction between numbers that mean things and numbers that do things, and our universe would never be the same. Turing’s Cathedral is the story of how the most constructive and most destructive of twentieth-century inventions—the digital computer and the hydrogen bomb—emerged at the same time.
Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction
Nick Montfort. MIT Press, 2003
A critical approach to interactive fiction, as literature and game.Interactive fiction–the best-known form of which is the text game or text adventure–has not received as much critical attention as have such other forms of electronic literature as hypertext fiction and the conversational programs known as chatterbots. Twisty Little Passages (the title refers to a maze in Adventure, the first interactive fiction) is the first book-length consideration of this form, examining it from gaming and literary perspectives. Nick Montfort, an interactive fiction author himself, offers both aficionados and first-time users a way to approach interactive fiction that will lead to a more pleasurable and meaningful experience of it. Twisty Little Passages looks at interactive fiction beginning with its most important literary ancestor, the riddle. Montfort then discusses Adventure and its precursors (including the I Ching and Dungeons and Dragons), and follows this with an examination of mainframe text games developed in response, focusing on the most influential work of that era, Zork. He then considers the introduction of commercial interactive fiction for home computers, particularly that produced by Infocom. Commercial works inspired an independent reaction, and Montfort describes the emergence of independent creators and the development of an online interactive fiction community in the 1990s. Finally, he considers the influence of interactive fiction on other literary and gaming forms. With Twisty Little Passages, Nick Montfort places interactive fiction in its computational and literary contexts, opening up this still-developing form to new consideration.
When Computing Got Personal: A history of the desktop computer
Matt Nicholson. Matt Publishing, 2014
This is the story of how a handful of geeks and mavericks dragged the computer out of corporate back rooms and laboratories and into our living rooms and offices. It is a tale not only of extraordinary innovation and vision but also of cunning business deals, boardroom tantrums and acrimonious lawsuits. Here you will find some of the most intelligent and eccentric people you could hope to meet, including wide-eyed hippies, subversive students, computer nerds, entrepreneurs, hackers, crackers and financial backers. Some lost out and some became millionaires, but all played a part in transforming our world.
Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet
Katie Hafner, Matthew Lyon. Simon Schuster, 1996
Twenty five years ago, it didn't exist. Today, twenty million people worldwide are surfing the Net. Where Wizards Stay Up Late is the exciting story of the pioneers responsible for creating the most talked about, most influential, and most far-reaching communications breakthrough since the invention of the telephone. In the 1960's, when computers where regarded as mere giant calculators, J.C.R. Licklider at MIT saw them as the ultimate communications devices. With Defense Department funds, he and a band of visionary computer whizzes began work on a nationwide, interlocking network of computers. Taking readers behind the scenes, Where Wizards Stay Up Late captures the hard work, genius, and happy accidents of their daring, stunningly successful venture.