Jacquard's Web: How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age

Jacquard's Web: How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age

by James Essinger
     
 

Circuits from silk? Today's technophiles probably have no idea how much today's computer technology owes to the invention of one ingenuous textile manufacturer in nineteenth-century France. Here, master storyteller James Essinger shows through a series of remarkable and meticulously researched historical connections how the Jacquard loom kick-started a process of

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Overview

Circuits from silk? Today's technophiles probably have no idea how much today's computer technology owes to the invention of one ingenuous textile manufacturer in nineteenth-century France. Here, master storyteller James Essinger shows through a series of remarkable and meticulously researched historical connections how the Jacquard loom kick-started a process of scientific evolution which would lead directly to the development of the modern computer.
Jacquard's 1804 invention, a loom which used punch cards with stored instructions for weaving different patterns and designs, enabled the master silk-weavers of Lyons to weave fabrics 25 times faster than the competition. Here, Essinger reveals the plethora of extraordinary links between that innovation in weaving and today's computer age, introducing us to the intriguing and colorful people who paved the way. The book concludes by bringing the story completely up-to-date with the latest developments in the World Wide Web and the fascinating phenomenon of artificial intelligence.
Attractively illustrated and compellingly narrated, Jacquard's Web presents an eye-opening and scarcely known history that will prove fascinating to readers of popular science, especially those interested in the history of science, technology, and computing, as well as professional scientists, historians, and students.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780192805782
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
05/21/2007
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
899,938
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 5.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

James Essinger is a writer with a particular interest in the history of ideas that have had a practical impact on the modern world. He is currently working on a novel about Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace and on a popular history of the written word.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
1. The engraving that wasn't
2. A better mouse-trap
3. The son of a master weaver
4. The emperor's new clothes
5. From weaving to computing
6. The difference engine
7. The analytical engine
8. A question of faith and funding
9. The lady who loved the Jacquard loom
10. A crisis with the American census
11. The first Jacquard looms that wove information
12. The birth of IBM
13. The Thomas Watson phenomenon
14. Howard Aiken dreams of a computer
15. IBM and the Harvard Mark 1
16. Weaving at the speed of light
17. The future
Index

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