[Chicago] Good readings on the history of computing

Randy Baxley randy7771026 at gmail.com
Wed Sep 25 16:39:59 CEST 2013

This makes me wish I had unlimited time and also had my young eyes back.

I lived some very good pieces of all of this.

I hate to keep recommending Dr-Chuck but his course on Coursera in Internet
History, Technology and Security is an enjoyable romp.

On Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:21 AM, Jordan Bettis <jordanb at hafd.org> wrote:

> On 09/24/2013 02:40 PM, Jason Wirth wrote:
> >
> > Does anyone have suggestion for articles on the history of computing?
> >
> > Note, Python specific stuff would be great but it doesn't have to be
> > python specific, and almost by definition probably won't be.
> >
> I can recommend a few books that I've read:
> *Computing in the Middle Ages* by Servero M Ornstein
> This guy became a programmer on a drum memory machine, went to Lincoln
> Labs at MIT when they were building SAGE. He was part of the transition
> from Lincoln Labs to MITRE and worked on the TX-1. He then worked on
> LINC (Which became the PDP-8), went to BBN and worked on ArpaNet, then
> to Xerox PARC and worked on Alto.
> The book is a memorial of his career and what it was like working on the
> above projects.
> *Before the Computer* by James W Cortada
> *A History of Modern Computing* by Paul E Ceruzzi
> These are two academic treatments of the subject by academic historians.
> The first covers mechanical and electro-mechanical information
> processing from the invention of the cash register and type writer,
> through adding machines and ends with the creation of vacuum tube
> computers.
> The second begins with UNIVAC and ends with the invention of the Web.
> Like I said, they're academic treatments of the subject so fairly
> rigorously written.
> A final one I might hesitatingly recommend is:
> *The Universal History of Computing* by Georges Ifrah
> This was written in French and translated into English. The writing is
> quite dense and it goes off into the weeds at the end, which is why I
> hesitate to recommend it.
> But it begins with a discussion of numbering systems, and demonstrates
> how the positional numbering system was a precondition for even thinking
> about mathematics as something that could be done mechanically.
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