‘Choice’ review of ‘Computer’

April 2011 Vol. 48 No. 08

The following review of ‘Computer’ is from the latest edition of ‘Choice’ magazine, which reviews texts for American academic libraries:

Computer is an extraordinary historical account of the electronic computer. Atkinson (Sheffield Hallam Univ., UK) takes the reader on a tortuous journey through the technological time line of these amazing machines, from the days of Colossus to the modern notebook computer. Starting with an early history and a tribute, of course, to Charles Babbage, the book quickly jumps to the 20th century and cleverly addresses the question of who built the first computer. The author presents notable contributions from Turing, von Neumann, and Mauchly in great and wonderful detail. Computer addresses aspects of the devices that many historical accounts of the electronic age do not cover. The evolution of the modern computer involved more than radical changes in circuitry and software; public opinions and appeal also played an important role. Readers learn how the creative decision making surrounding the design and fashioning of the hardware had effects on society and, in turn, how decision makers were swayed by public expectations. The book is imbued with priceless photographs of everything from the ICT 1301 to the quirky but beautiful iPad. It will be truly appreciated by all who have an interest in the history of our favorite machine.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. — M. Connell, SUNY College at Cortland

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