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Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe (Penguin Press Science) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 28. Februar 2013
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Riveting . . . conveys the electrifying sense of possibility that the first computers unleashed . . . a page-turner (New Scientist)
Brings to life a myriad cast of extraordinary characters, each of whom contributed to ushering in today's digital age (Daily Telegraph)
An engrossing and well-researched book that recounts an important chapter in the history of 20th-century computing (Evgeny Morozov Observer)
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
George Dyson is a historian of technology whose interests include the development (and redevelopment) of the Aleut kayak. He is the author of Baidarka; Project Orion; and Darwin Among the Machines.
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The prose is engaging but written for fellow scientists or, at least, the scientifically literate. Because of the fact that Dyson chose to write the book above the level of popular science his book didn't go viral in the way of, say, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.
However, even though I read this book several years ago, I can say I've rarely had the pleasure of reading a finer work since. Highly recommended for a select kind of reader.
1. Download and print the image with the black squares at 100%, full page, dont fit to frame.
2. Place paper on top of cover and align with holes. make creases along the edges of the book except along the binding.
3. Cut just inside of the three fold lines from step 2.
4. Fold the remaining edge along the binding and tape that to the first page.
As far as the contents of the book: Still reading. It's light on technical details as others have pointed out but goes into the history and background of how the researchers got to the Institute, some escaping Germany to do so. Overall enjoyable and informative. Some of the details G. Dyson adds are a result of his sleuthing and searching basements and archives for original documents. When coming across those passages I feel close to the source.
The writer is the son of a physicist at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study (interesting photo of the author at age 3 wandering about, and his account of how he and his playmates scavenged obsolete electronic gear in an old nearby barn), so he include personal letters, recollections, encounters, interviews, and subject matter from the early digital era. I found the story fascinating.
I did have one problem, which is that I had a hard time understanding exactly how "random access memory" (the RAM we have in our computers nowadays) worked. The author moved very quickly from Alan Turing's one-dimensional infinitely long paper tape, to two-dimensional, and then three-dimensional forty floor "hotel suites" where memory was addressed. Oh, well. My bad.
Still, a wonderfully eloquent, well researched and quite readable work.
Dyson integrates the the visions and accomplishments of Turing and those of his peers who pursued these visions with an uncanny foresight. John von Neuman of course was the primary mover/shaker of so much that happened through the 1940's and mid 50'.
What Dyson does with this material is to show how the digital and biological universes have become one ... so intermeshed that it is difficult at best to see the boundaries of either.
I, personally, have had the fortune of having programmed computers of the late 50s and early 60s (and of course much later), and this truly gives me a perspective on how true some of these visions have become.
I will say no more, since dinner is beckoning, but if you seriously want to understand the impact of computers on our world, this is a wonderful place to start.