[Chicago] Good readings on the history of computing

Yarko Tymciurak yarkot1 at gmail.com
Wed Sep 25 17:23:50 CEST 2013

I've got to say, Jason - you've started quite the interesting thread - I'm
enjoying it (I hope my talk about 1959 PLATO computing inspirised a little
of this! ;-)).

History as nostalgia is one thing;   history as perspective into design is
Being a systems engineer, the later always gets my fancy.

On that ilk, and it's not about computing per se, but about model thinking,
and looking at problems in fresh ways (sort of where my teaser of "What's
Love got to do with it?"  hinted towards, and will evolve into,
presentation wise...  over years, I'm sure...)

Henry Petroski's  books fascinated me when I read them (e.g. the History of
the pencil -

Before "patterns" became "vogue" (and a mis-cast model, judging by the
limited cast of it's net - it's not the patterns which are so interesting,
but the way in which you come to see the patterns - they are not fixed -
you must adapt them at each circumstance, ant that meta-modeling is what is
important, and also the core of the studies of philosophy, et.al.   but I
...  cast broadly!).   Anyway, if you haven't read Christofer Alexanders
original  "A Timeless Way of Building", I found that insightful (I thought
less of his pattern language book - I though, still think he was over

And finally, a reflection on the history of the evolution of the internet
protocol, and lessons learned (i.e. "what we got wrong"),  I can strongly
recommend John Day's  "Patterns in Network Architecture" (
http://pnanetworks.com/documentspublications.html).   John was an early
developer, as a grad student at (wait for it! ....)  U of I.    I forget
the specifics, because they are overwhelming, but I think his original IP
address was something like 4.   Right.   Anyway, if I remember he mentions
it in his book.

- Yarko

On Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM, kirby urner <kirby.urner at gmail.com> wrote:

> Cryptonomicon good yes, fictionalized history.
> Lets not forget his (Neal Stepheson's) other 'In the Beginning was the
> Command Line'.
> Good computer history and a classic worth collecting (I don't have it):
> 'Computer Lib / Dream Machines' by Ted Nelson.
> That's the one that's more formal going on way then flip it over and go
> backwards and its a revolutionary tract.
> Or something along those lines.
> I've met Dr. Chuck at a Pycon and worked with him just a little on one of
> his books (enough to get my name in the credits).
> Kirby
> On Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 7:50 AM, Daniel Fehrenbach <dnfehrenbach at gmail.com
> > wrote:
>> @Randy - I had Dr. Chuck as a professor at Michigan, hope that his
>> Coursera stuff was as engaging as he is in person
>> A lot softer than a lot of things mentioned previously but Neal
>> Stephenson has a, really outdated but readable essay on operating system
>> history as seen through his experience
>> http://www.cryptonomicon.com/beginning.html.
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