Computing: A Concise History (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)
Paul E. Ceruzzi
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The history of computing could be told as the story of hardware and software, or the story of the Internet, or the story of "smart" hand-held devices, with subplots involving IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. In this concise and accessible account of the invention and development of digital technology, computer historian Paul Ceruzzi offers a broader and more useful perspective. He identifies four major threads that run throughout all of computing's technological development: digitization--the coding of information, computation, and control in binary form, ones and zeros; the convergence of multiple streams of techniques, devices, and machines, yielding more than the sum of their parts; the steady advance of electronic technology, as characterized famously by "Moore's Law"; and the human-machine interface. Ceruzzi guides us through computing history, telling how a Bell Labs mathematician coined the word "digital" in 1942 (to describe a high-speed method of calculating used in anti-aircraft devices), and recounting the development of the punch card (for use in the 1890 U.S. Census). He describes the ENIAC, built for scientific and military applications; the UNIVAC, the first general purpose computer; and ARPANET, the Internet's precursor. Ceruzzi's account traces the world-changing evolution of the computer from a room-size ensemble of machinery to a "minicomputer" to a desktop computer to a pocket-sized smart phone. He describes the development of the silicon chip, which could store ever-increasing amounts of data and enabled ever-decreasing device size. He visits that hotbed of innovation, Silicon Valley, and brings the story up to the present with the Internet, the World Wide Web, and social networking.
have a simple design of the physical memory apparatus to accommodate a variety of problems. They also noted that the stored program could be modified, in the restricted sense that an arithmetic operation could address a sequence of memory locations, with the address of the memory incremented or modified according to the results of a calculation. Through the early 1950s, that was extended: a special kind of program, later called a compiler, would take as its input instructions written in a form
brain to a computer can distort as much as clarify. A better analogy might be to compare the complexity of a computer chip to the streets of a large metropolis, like Chicago, which can support amenities not found in smaller cities: for example, symphony orchestras, major league sports teams, and international airports. In designing the ENIAC, Eckert and Mauchly recognized the need to manage complexity, for which they designed standard modules containing a few dozen tubes and other components.
that personal computers like the Altair or Apple II were ill suited for those applications. The Route 128 companies were making large profits on minicomputers, and they regarded the personal computers as too weak to threaten their product line. Neither group saw how quickly the ever-increasing computer power described by Moore’s law, coupled with the enthusiasm and fanaticism of hobbyists, would find a way around the deficiencies of the early personal computers. While the Homebrew Computer Club’s
relaxed. That milestone was contained in an amendment to the Scientific and Technology Act of 1992, which pertained to the authorization of the NSF. The legislation passed and was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on November 23, 1992.21 Paragraph g reads, in full: In carrying out subsection (a) (4) of this section, the Foundation is authorized to foster and support access by the research and education communities to computer networks which may be used substantially for purposes in
clutter. Two other Web sites that consistently rank among the most visited, Wikipedia and Craigslist, also have a text-oriented design with few frills. That was a lesson that many Web sites have not learned; their creators apparently cannot resist the temptation to load a page with an angry fruit salad of too many colors, fonts, typefaces, and pop-up ads. These designs may seem a long way from the human factors work done during World War II on antiaircraft fire control devices, but they are the