Computer: A History of the Information Machine

Computer: A History of the Information Machine

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by Martin Campbell-Kelly, William Aspray, Nathan Ensmenger, Jeffrey R. Yost

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Computer: A History of the Information Machine traces the history of the computer and shows how business and government were the first to explore its unlimited, information-processing potential. Old-fashioned entrepreneurship combined with scientific know-how inspired now famous computer engineers to create the technology that became IBM. Wartime


Computer: A History of the Information Machine traces the history of the computer and shows how business and government were the first to explore its unlimited, information-processing potential. Old-fashioned entrepreneurship combined with scientific know-how inspired now famous computer engineers to create the technology that became IBM. Wartime needs drove the giant ENIAC, the first fully electronic computer. Later, the PC enabled modes of computing that liberated people from room-sized, mainframe computers.

This third edition provides updated analysis on software and computer networking, including new material on the programming profession, social networking, and mobile computing. It expands its focus on the IT industry with fresh discussion on the rise of Google and Facebook as well as how powerful applications are changing the way we work, consume, learn, and socialize. Computer is an insightful look at the pace of technological advancement and the seamless way computers are integrated into the modern world. Through comprehensive history and accessible writing, Computer is perfect for courses on computer history, technology history, and information and society, as well as a range of courses in the fields of computer science, communications, sociology, and management.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This book is a splendid account of the history of computing machines. From Jacquard’s punch card loom to today’s Dick Tracy-like Internet connectors, the book provides a wealth of fascinating historical and technological information, especially for first-time readers. Highly recommended.” Choice

"A welcome update to the classic text on the history of the computer—sure to extend its relevance to a new generation of students and scholars."
David Mindell, MIT, author of Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight

"This authoritative yet accessible history of computing improves with each edition. This latest version provides enhanced coverage of recent developments such as the Internet, while sharpening and deepening its treatment of earlier events. A balanced, reliable account that holds interest for specialists and provides a ready entry into the topic for students, professionals, and general readers."
Steven W. Usselman, Georgia Institute of Technology

"I strongly recommend to you the third edition of Computer; it is simultaneously a thorough, accurate, and highly readable history of the evolution of the computer and its impact on all aspects of our society. I am an old guy, having written my first computer program over 50 years ago, and I have personally known many of the people mentioned in the book so I can attest to the accuracy of the events described."
Bill Wulf, University of Virginia

Praise for Prior Editions:

"Terrific! This is the best general history of computing yet written, by two of the field's most prominent historians. Computer is comprehensive, engaging, and a pleasure to read. Aspray and Campbell-Kelley paint the big picture of the information revolution that is affecting all of our lives."
David A. Mindell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing Before Cybernetics

"Starting back when computers were people, computer historians Campbell-Kelly and Asprey meticulously trace the forces and personalities that gave birth to the computer age. From Babbage's failed analytical engine to mechanical calculators, IBM's room-sized mainframes, minis, Microsoft, and the Internet, their in-depth narrative gives us a peek inside the back rooms of early computer companies and into the lives of industry pioneers, both sung and unsung."
Thomas M. Georges, Author of Digital Soul

Product Details

Westview Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Third Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Martin Campbell-Kelly is emeritus professor of computer science at University of Warwick.

William Aspray is Bill and Lewis Suit Professor of Information Technologies at University of Texas at Austin.

Nathan Ensmenger is associate professor in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University Bloomington.

Jeffrey R. Yost is associate director of the Charles Babbage Institute and faculty member in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Minnesota.

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Computer: A History of the Information Machine 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Computer: A History of the Information Machine details the history of computers and of human computer interaction from the 1800s to the early 2000s. The book focuses mostly on the history itself, discussing the inventors and innovators that brought the modern day computer into existence, however, the book also gives an overview of computers that is easy to understand. The book is split into four parts Before the Computer, Creating the Computer, Innovation and Expansion, and Getting Personal, which goes into detail about personal computers and how they can effect our future. We live in a world that is dependent on computers, and this book allows us to look back and reflect to see how we got here. The overview readers get is brief and fast paced, a good choice on the part of the authors. Readers are kept engaged, and do not get caught up in the technicalities of computers that are still a bit confusing to computer science students, like me. This comprehensive history recounts the story of the first human computer interactions, particularly well. The first half of the book shows how and why computers became so widespread. We see how easy computers have made every aspect of our lives. From the use of automated devices in factories to the UNIVAC machines that counts and calculates numbers for the U.S. Census, the authors clearly illustrate how the computer have helped our lives become precise and exact. Not only does the book document the first HCI interactions, it shows how humans have always had a tendency to interact with machines. Whether it be using the radio for enjoyment, or using machines to make our lives easier, it is clear that this personal computer culture we see now did not come out of nowhere. While carrying a smartphone or laptop maybe new, the concept of using computers for pleasure or efficiency is not new. The one shortcoming of this spectacular book is its eurocentricity. Considering that the authors all hail from Europe and America, it is understandable that they would explore the stories of computers in Europe and the U.S. more in depth. However, given that most current computer innovation is happening in Asia, it would be interesting to see how HCI interactions developed there. Overall, Computer: A History of the Information Machine is an amazing book. It provides a detailed understanding without sacrificing substance. Our modern day world is filled with computers; they effect are lives in diverse ways. We live in a time of progress and innovation as far as computers go, but looking back is not a bad thing. Seeing what drove the widespread use and creation of computers helps us value computers. Learning about the necessity that brought forth computers aids our futures, for computer sciences students can now look at our present world, and see what needs must be fulfilled. This book is truly thought provoking and is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago