The birth of the computer

The birth of the computer


Historian George Dyson tells stories from the birth of the modern computer — from its 17th-century origins to the hilarious notebooks of some early computer engineers.

In telling stories of technologies and the individuals who created them, George Dyson takes a clear-eyed view of our scientific past — while illuminating what lies ahead.

The development of the Aleutian kayak, its adaptation by Russians in the 18th and 19th centuries, and his own redevelopment of the craft in the 1970s was chronicled in George Dyson’s Baidarka: The Kayak of 1986. His 1997 Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence (“the last book about the Internet written without the Internet”) explored the history and prehistory of digital computing and telecommunications as a manifestation of the convergent destiny of organisms and machines.

Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship, published in 2002, assembled first-person interviews and recently declassified documents to tell the story of a path not taken into space: a nuclear-powered spaceship whose objective was to land a party of 100 people on Mars four years before we landed two people on the Moon. Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe, published in 2012, illuminated the transition from numbers that mean things to numbers that do things in the aftermath of World War II.

Dyson’s current project, Analogia, is a semi-autobiographical reflection on how analog computation is re-establishing control over the digital world.


June 24, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , ,

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