Book Review: Electronic Brains: Stories from the Dawn of the Computer Age by Mike Hally

  /     /   Book     History     Retro     Review    

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.

Creative Commons License
Book Review: Electronic Brains: Stories from the Dawn of the Computer Age by Mike Hally by Lawrence Woodman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Related Articles

Book Review: What the Dormouse Said by John Markoff

The premise of this book is that the 60s/70s counter-culture led to the personal computer revolution. I think the book demonstrated well how this influenced SAIL and how the Augment lab innovations led...   Read More

Book Review: The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.

This book, written in 1975, offers a fascinating insight into the software engineering process used at that time. The author draws from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 and OS/...   Read More

Book Review: Fundamentals of Operating Systems by A.M. Lister - Second Edition

It was fascinating to read this book from 1979 and see how operating system design was viewed then, compared to now. The biggest change being the shift in importance from batch processing to the inter...   Read More

BBS Ads: Getting the Word Out

BBS Ads were important to users and sysops of BBS's. There wasn't any universal directory like the phone book, and during the heyday of BBS's (early '80s to the mid '90s), most people couldn't easily ...   Read More

Connecting a Parallel Printer to a Modern Linux Machine Using a LogiLink USB to Parallel Cable, D-SUB 25pin

I have a number of older printers that I would like to connect to my modern machine, but have been unable to do so because my computer doesn't have a parallel interface. After searching the internet f...   Read More

Sign up to get new articles straight to your inbox.

Delivered by FeedBurner

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus