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Doug Pappas

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Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software (DV-MPS General)
Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software (DV-MPS General)
von Charles Petzold
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5.0 von 5 Sternen An easy to follow historical and technical perspective, 29. Mai 2000
Charles Petzold a does an outstanding job of explaining the basic workings of a computer. His story begins with a description of various ways of coding information including Braille, Morse code, and binary code. He then describes the development of hardware beginning with a description of the development of telegraph and relays. This leads into the development of transistors and logic gates and switches. Boolean logic is described and numerous electrical circuits are diagramed showing the electrical implementation of Boolean logic. The book describes circuits to add and subtract binary numbers. The development of hexadecimal code is described. Memory circuits are assembled by stringing logic gates together. Two basic microprocessors are described - the Intel 8080 and the Motorola 6800. Machine language, assembly language, and some higher level software languages are covered. There is a chapter on operating systems. This book provides a very nice historical perspective on the development of computers. It is entertaining and only rarely bogs down in technical detail.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
von Jared Diamond
Preis: EUR 14,80

4.0 von 5 Sternen Tantalizing but not compelling, 8. Mai 2000
Jared Diamond provides an original perspective on the fates of human societies. His thesis is that the fates of all human societies has been to a large extent predetermined in remote historic times by the fertility of the soil and the relative abundance or scarcity of cultivatable plants and domesticatable animals. The fundamental intelligence and drive of all peoples are similar. Societies progressed from hunter gathers to farmers and ranchers and developers of political organizations and higher technologies if the geography supported it. If the variety of animals which could be domesticated was sparce or the native flora was of limited nutritional value then the native population remained hunter gathers. Such less developed societies were easy prey for the higher developed societies. Not the least because the less developed societies were highly susceptible to a variety of infectious diseases to which the more highly developed society, living in a higher population density, had become relatively immune. The conquest of the Incas by Pizarro and his band of 198 Spaniards is a prime example cited by Diamond. The Incas did have a degree of agriculture and political organization but lacked many domestic animals and were very susceptible to Old World infectious diseases. The Incas also did not have a written language. Diamond provides numerous other examples of the European conquest of aboriginal peoples.
Diamond's discussion on the origins and spread of agriculture are very enlightening. His discussion of the development and spread of written language is also interesting. Unfortunately Diamond gives little weight to religious, political, or philosophical differences between societies in determining their fates. This is a serious shortcoming of his work. Ultimately his thesis, while tantalizing, is not compelling.

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