“Don’t let fear get in the way and don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t understand’ – no question is a dumb question.” (Margaret Hamilton)
The title “The History Of The Computer” makes me think of a heavy, hardback book filled with pages of text and no pictures. The type of book I picture used in Computer Science classes that bored many students. Thankfully, Rachel Ignotofsky’s book is not that history book. Instead it is a wonderfully illustrated book of The History Of The Computer full of facts and information that even though I purchased it for a young adult I found myself reading it first.
The book is broken down into several chapters:
Ancient Civilizations (25,000 B.C.E. – 1599 C.E.)
Steam and Machines (1600 – 1929)
WWII and the First Computers (1930 – 1949)
Postwar Boom and the Space Race (1950 – 1969)
The Personal Computer (1970 – 1979)
Computers as a Creative Tool (1980 – 1989)
The World Wide Web (1990 – 2005)
The All In One Device (2006 – Now)
The introduction kicks off with a neat reminder of how a modern piece of technology (e.g., a smart phone) has amalgamated several pieces of technology (phone, computer, camera, portable game console, map, television and MP3 player) into one device. Also included is binary, with logic gates, memory/storage, AI/robotics and video games.
The book covers so many influential people that I learned lots of names new to me that I didn’t know, and lots of new facts. I could probably spend a large portion of this review sharing interesting information but the book does it so much better (Rachel’s illustrations really help tell the stories).
As this is a US book and I’m a UK reader I was a little hesitant that some people / contributions (e.g., Tommy Flowers, Colossus, University of Manchester) may have been missed. However, I need not have worried – Rachel has them all in there (don’t worry Babbage, Lovelace, Turing, Berners-Lee and more are in there as well)!.
The book ends with the challenges that we face in the digital landscape, from bias to the digital divide and trustworthy sources, and with a key question that I think all computer uses should ask themselves – “what will you do with computers and technology?”
The book makes an excellent gift for young adults and older adults, especially if they are a computer geek. Anyone wanting to learn about the history of the computer should pick this up.
The History Of The Computer is by Rachel Ignotofsky ( https://rachelignotofskydesign.com/ ) and published by Ten Speed Press. If you would like to see some of the internal pages please visit the official web page at: https://rachelignotofskydesign.com/the-history-of-the-computer , or check out the below promo video on Youtube: