[Chicago] Good readings on the history of computing

Martin Maney maney at two14.net
Thu Sep 26 04:23:04 CEST 2013


On Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 08:00:01AM -0700, kirby urner wrote:
> Good computer history and a classic worth collecting (I don't have it):
> 
> 'Computer Lib / Dream Machines' by Ted Nelson.

I hope I still have the copy I got back in the seventies - amazingly
weird, fun book.

Three titles I've learned from and enjoyed over the decades:

Yourdon's _Classics in Software Engineering_ (which has been passing
in and out of print at odd intervals) is an amazing collection of true
foundational works, from "Gotos Considered Harmful" to the classic
paper that presents the case for using only a few flow control
structures (Bohm & Jacopini, I think; the title escapes me).  And
Knuth's joyfully contrary "Structured Programming with Goto
Statements"  And much more.

Bentley's _Programming Pearls_ is a slim volume (and "More ..." is even
thinner) and filled with gems from the famous ACM column.  As long as
I've already crammed two titles under this heading, I shall complete
the trifecta by mentioning "Writing Efficient Programs" by the same
author.

Okay, that triple crown has thrown me off... which did I have in mind
for number three?  Kernighan & Plauger's _Software Tools_ was a huge
influence, but does anyone actually still use FORTRAN?  I can't be as
enthused about the Pascal rewrite, it seemed to spend so much more of
its effort fighting the severe limitations of standard/portable Pascal,
a language I've never cared for much.  Or Plauger's _Programming on
Purpose_, another book that collects the best of a series of columns. 
At least I think that was the title, I can't seem to find it now... Or
maybe I meant to have a token Object Oriented title, which would be
_Smalltalk-80: The Language and its Implementation_, without which I
would have been confused for years by C++'s weirdly warped notion of
what OOP was all about.

So many books, so little time!  Hey, Guido, is that time machine busy
this weekend?

-- 
Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity
of the winner of this year's presidential election, the identity
of the loser is perfectly clear.  It is the nation's confidence
in the judge as an impartial guardian of the law.
 - Justice John Paul Stevens, from his dissenting opinion Dec 12, 2000



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