Filed under booklet | Tags: · computing, corporate culture, music
“[Since the year 1900], the gatherings and conventions of our IBM workers have expressed in happy songs the fine spirit of loyal cooperation and good fellowship which has promoted the signal success of our great IBM Corporation in its truly International Service for the betterment of business and benefit to mankind.
In appreciation of the able and inspiring leadership of our beloved President, Mr. Thos. J. Watson, and our unmatchable staff of IBM executives, and in recognition of the noble aims and purposes of our International Service and Products, this edition of IBM songs solicits your vocal approval by hearty cooperation in our song-fests at our conventions and fellowship gatherings.” (from introduction)
Publisher International Business Machines Corporation, New York, 1931
Filed under book | Tags: · biography, computing, electricity, history of computing, history of science, mathematics, science, technology
In this engrossing biography, Dorothy Stein strips away the many layers of myth surrounding Ada Lovelace’s reputation as the inventor of the science of computer programming to reveal a story far more dramatic and fascinating than previous accounts have indicated. Working with original sources, Stein clears up a number of puzzles and misinterpretations of Ada’s life and activities.
Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, was the only daughter of the poet Lord Byron and the close friend and associate of a number of the foremost scientific, literary, and artistic figures of the early Victorian period. She enjoys a growing reputation today for her report on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine—considered to be the first computer. Yet Stein shows how the often self-serving Babbage conspired to create the legend, using the Countess to promote his projects and make exaggerated claims for his engine. By placing Lady Lovelace’s report in the social and cultural context in which it was written, she finds that, far from being a clear and masterly exposition of the structure and logic of the computer, it was a rather mystical tract that dwelt on the inventor’s outdated philosophy of mathematics, and his mechanistic view of theology and the workings of capitalist economics.
Ada’s own life is vividly told, often in her own words, as Stein weaves into her narrative excerpts from letters, memoirs, and little-known documents to create an account that is at once black comedy, detective story, psychological drama, and scientific explanation. She examines the barriers and opportunities that Ada faced as she strove to develop her ambitions and search for truths that would free her of that shadow of her mysterious father and her overbearing and manipulative mother.
Stein reveals a turbulent and complex woman who tries to run away, who marries and bears three children, attempts to bury herself in the study of mathematics, and to find herself in a career in music or in writing. Ada corresponds and associates with men as diverse as Dickens, Chadwick, Quetelet, and Wheatstone. She sickens and attempts to find the cause of her malady by exploring the fringes of several sciences. Her interest in the use of electricity to treat nervous disorders involves her in the controversies over mesmerism and phrenology, and turns her from Babbage to Faraday and to Andrew Crosse, the “electrician” whose work served as the model for Frankenstein. With Ada, Stein examines the roots of the fear, fascination, and mystic awe with which we still regard the impact of high technology upon ordinary life.
Publisher MIT Press, 1987
History of Computing Series
ISBN 0262691167, 9780262691161
Filed under book | Tags: · communication technology, computing, engineering, history of communications, history of computing, history of technology, networks, radio, technology, telephone
“High-handed corporate monopoly and high-minded national treasure, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) was a unique project of America’s pragmatism and for decades the envy of the world in extending low-cost local telephone service. At the heart of AT&T was its R&D unit, Bell Laboratories, the world’s greatest entity of its kind, and a giant manufacturing arm, Western Electric.
The Idea Factory is the first study of Bell Labs that puts its history in its full organizational, political, and administrative context. AT&T was a company striving to expand and maintain a privileged empire under a government that saw it alternatively as a trusted military/industrial partner and an anticompetitive threat. This ambiguous embrace, New York Times Magazine writer Jon Gertner suggests, inadvertently encouraged a culture that combined a gifted and diverse workforce with a long-term outlook, creating the foundations of a new information economy, which in turn made radical changes in the charter of the parent company inevitable.
Gertner’s story is the interaction between three leaders of Bell Labs in its critical years—Mervin Kelly, Jim Fisk, and William Oliver Baker—and three of its greatest scientific minds: William Shockley, Claude Shannon, and John Pierce.” (from a review by Edward Tenner)
Publisher The Penguin Press, New York, 2012
ISBN 1594203288, 9781594203282
via Steve McLaughlin
Filed under book | Tags: · computing, cybernetics, machine
Giant Brains is one of the first books on electronic computers for a general audience.
In it, the co-founder Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Edmund Berkeley described the principles behind computing machines (called then “mechanical brains”, “sequence-controlled calculators”, or various other terms), and then gave a technical but accessible survey of the most prominent examples of the time, including machines from MIT, Harvard, the Moore School, Bell Laboratories, and elsewhere.
Originally published by Wiley & Sons, 1949
Publisher Science Editions, New York, 1961
Filed under book | Tags: · algorithm, automation, code, computing, software, software studies, technology
Long gone are the days of jocks and preppies running the trading desks of Wall Street. For more than a decade, a group of math and technology geeks known as the “quants” have completely transformed the financial markets.
Christopher Steiner traces the stories if these quants and their complete makeover of Wall Street. As more an more colleges became hotbeds of quant knowledge, more engineers and math majors infiltrated the job market. And not just on Wall Street but in countless ither fields.
Steiner explores how algorithms and the science behind them are starting to permeate our daily lives, destroying professions and creating new ones. Sooner than we think our music, our food, our medicine, our blind dates, and more will be governed by procedural equations rather than human intuition.
In many cases these innovations are beneficial. But there will inevitably be troubling side effects, like the Flash Crash of May 2010. Steiner explores what will happen, both good and bad, when algorithims more fully control hospitals, transportation and many other fields.
Publisher Portfolio / Penguin Group US, 2012
ISBN 1101572159, 9781101572153
Filed under magazine | Tags: · autopoiesis, biology, cognition, computing, cybernetics, language, machine, mathematics
Editorial board: Gordon Pask, Humberto Maturana, Heinz von Foerster, Terry Winograd, Larry Richards (Vol 2 only)
Editor Paul Trachtman (Vol 1)
Publisher The American Society for Cybernetics
Filed under book | Tags: · art, art history, computer art, computing, film, film history, history of photography, image, media archeology, painting, philosophy, photography, technology
This major new book provides a concise history of optical media from Renaissance linear perspective to late twentieth-century computer graphics. Kittler begins by looking at European painting since the Renaissance in order to discern the principles according to which modern optical perception was organized. He also discusses the development of various mechanical devices, such as the camera obscura and the laterna magica, which were closely connected to the printing press and which played a pivotal role in the media war between the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation.
After examining this history, Kittler then addresses the ways in which images were first stored and made to move, through the development of photography and film. He discusses the competitive relationship between photography and painting as well as between film and theater, as innovations like the Baroque proscenium or “picture-frame” stage evolved from elements that would later constitute cinema. The central question, however, is the impact of film on the ancient monopoly of writing, as it not only provoked new forms of competition for novelists but also fundamentally altered the status of books. In the final section, Kittler examines the development of electrical telecommunications and electronic image processing from television to computer simulations.
In short, this book provides a comprehensive introduction to the history of image production that is indispensable for anyone wishing to understand the prevailing audiovisual conditions of contemporary culture.
First published in German as Optische Medien / Berliner Vorlesung 1999, Merve Verlag, Berlin, 2002
Translated by Anthony Enns
With an introduction by John Durham Peters
Publisher Polity, 2009
ISBN 0745640915, 9780745640914