Edwards traces how computers have emerged as the dominant technology as a direct result of Cold War politics and the defense research it engendered. From the first use of room-size mainframes to coordinate missile systems, Pentagon research aimed toward complete computer control, including the budget-busting and ultimately impractical Strategic Defensive Initiative. Edwards relates how the technolog--which is now so open as to be nearly anarchic--began in strictly enclosed secrecy. The military computer goal of perfect "command, control and communication" systems was understood to mean communication only within a very closed world. Edwards' thesis is that this approach influenced the very structure of our modern computers.
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A fascinating glimpse into the history of computing and a cogentreminder of the extent to which this history continues to inform ourvision of the future. -- Grant Kester The Nation The Closed World is astonishing. One of the most important books of the 20th century. -- Howard Rheingold Whole Earth Review