Jacquard's Web: How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Ageby James Essinger
Jacquard's Web tells one of the greatest untold stories of science: how Joseph-Marie Jacquard, a master silk-weaver in Napoleonic France, invented a loom that was to spark the beginning of today's information age. The revolutionary Jacquard loom could create beautiful fabrics many times faster than had previously been possible, using a system of punched cards - now rightly viewed as the world's first computer programs - to store instructions for patterns and designs. In this fascinating and engaging tale, James Essinger traces the 200-year evolution of Jacquard's idea from the studios of eighteenth-century French weavers, through the Industrial Revolution, to the information revolution of the twentieth century and to the billions of desktop computers we rely on around the world today.
"Jacquard's Web is more than the biography of a man and his machine. Mr. Essinger moves from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, connecting the loom, step by step, to the Harvard Mark I, the first proper computer, presented to the public in 1944.... Essinger tells his story with passion and with a gracious willingness to help the lay reader grasp the intricacies of technology."Wall Street Journal
"Essinger does more than weave together science, history, and business: he sheds light on the nature of innovation.... His book deftly shows how even the most surprising breakthroughs are based on the work of others, and need a host of enabling factors to take root. Without the appropriate financial, technological, and cultural factors, no inventor, regardless of passion, can harvest his brilliant machine.... His tale of cultural, economic, and personal factors that enable ideas to become real tools makes this book a welcome addition to the literature of innovation." Tom Ehrenfeld, The Boston Globe
"Anyone who enjoyed Tom Standage's book on automata, The Mechanical Turk, will probably enjoy Jacquard's Web."New Scientist
"An original perspective...the thread that runs through itthe relation of everything that has come since to the principle of the Jacquard loomquite compelling."Walter Gratzer, King's College London
- Oxford University Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 7.80(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.10(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.
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