This is an interesting history of computer development around the world during the 1940s and 50s.  The book grew out of a radio series on BBS Radio 4 and contains lots of original material gained from interviews in 2001 and 2004.  It is very accessible as it focuses slightly more on the events and people involved than the technical details, although it has enough of the latter to show how the technology evolved.

While reading this I came across quite a few surprises, such as the early successes in Australia.  There is also a chapter on Remington Rand’s Rand 409, another early computer which I don’t think has been covered much elsewhere.  Finally it tries to explain how IBM became the market leader despite its late entry into the field.

Throughout the book the author tries to show how each team and country may have influenced each other and where they may have innovated in isolation.  He also tries to tackle the often debated question: Which was the first computer?  His answer essentially comes down to what you call a computer, and therefore there are a number of firsts depending on how you define this.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in how the first computers came into being and particularly to those who want to look beyond Britain and America.