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Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 1. März 2012

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A wise and meticulously researched account of a vital period in our technological history, peopled by remarkable characters painted in the round (Peter Forbes Independent )

Fascinating . . . the story Dyson tells is intensely human, a tale of teamwork over many years and all the harmonies and rows that involves (Jenny Uglow )

This wide-ranging and lyrical work is an important addition to the literature of the history of computing (Economist )

A beautiful example of technological storytelling . . . much more than a chronicle of engineering progress: it includes fascinating digressions into the history and physics of nuclear weapons, the fundamentals of mathematical logic, the mathematical insights of Hobbes and Leibniz, the history of weather forecasting, Nils Barricelli's pioneering work on artificial life and lots of other interesting stuff (John Naughton Observer )

It is a joy to read George Dyson's revelation of the very human story of the invention of the electronic computer, which he tells with wit, authority, and insight. Read Turing's Cathedral as both the origin story of our digital universe and as a preceptive glimpse into its future (W. Daniel Hillis )

At long last George Dyson delivers the untold story of software's creation. It is an amazing tale brilliantly deciphered (Kevin Kelly )

The world he re-creates will enthral scientific romantics . . . an entertaining starting point for anyone wanting to understand how Turing's astonishing ideas became a reality, and how they continue to shape the world we live in today (The Sunday Times )

An engrossing and well-researched book that recounts an important chapter in the history of 20th-century computing (Evgeny Morozov Observer )

Rich in historical insight . . . a timely reminder of why we should care about computers and the endless possibilities they hold (The Times )

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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Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Zuse scheint nicht existiert zu haben. Wie das Auto haben die Amerikaner auch den Computer nicht erfunden. Dafür später besser vermarktet als Zuse oder Nixdorf. Dennoxh lesenswert.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 von 5 Sternen 150 Rezensionen
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Disappointed – I found this book over-stuffed, disorganized and misrepresented 22. Januar 2014
Von Metallurgist - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
I was disappointed in this book. I expected it to be about the work Alan Turing did to develop the modern computer, or at least about the origins of the modern computer. While this book touches on these subjects it is actually mostly about John von Neumann’s work to develop the modern computer. Interspersed are chapters covering some of the initial problems that these early computers were able to tackle. Among them were weather forecasting, the evolution of biological systems, the evolution of stars, and most importantly the feasibility and design of the hydrogen bomb.

I did not dislike the book, so I give it three-stars, but only recommend it with the reservation that a perspective reader consider my reasons, given below, for why I did not rate it higher. While this book might not be for a general audience, I could recommend it to someone who wants more information on the Institute for Advanced Studies, IAS, the people who worked there and want information specifically about John von Neumann’s computer efforts.

In more detail - I found the book to have the following less than desirable features:
- The book is overstuffed – The author’s father worked at the IAS and he grew up there. As a result he was fascinated by everything to do with Princeton, IAS and the people who worked there. For instance, the book discusses - the Native American tribe who lived in the land occupied by Princeton University and IAS, William Penn and the founding of Pennsylvania, the design and construction of the IAS buildings and even a discussion of the woman who was the personal assistant to the director of IAS. I was hoping for a book, which had more about computers and less about this background material. Unfortunately, I estimate that this background material takes up about half of the book!

- The book is disorganized – I feel that the numerous digressions, described above, distracted from the story of computers. While at first I even enjoyed them, after a while I found that they caused me to loose the train of the narrative. Furthermore, chapters covering things like weather forecasting are thrown in-between those on the building of the computers, further disrupting the narrative concerning computer design and construction. I feel that the book is more of a collection of essays than a chronological story. These essays shift from building computers in the 1950’s, to Europe in the 1930’s, and then back to the 50’s, then to Los Alamos in the 1940’s and back again to the computers of the 50’s, and I feel that this tended to defocus the narrative.

- The writing style – I found the writing style to be somewhat cumbersome, especially when discussing the finer points of the design and construction of computers. In many cases the author quotes mathematicians or computer experts concerning their work, and while this produces text that is readily understandable to people conversant with these fields, I found it to be less than perfectly clear. In contrast, most of the best writers of popular science have a knack of describing complex work in a readily understandable form, but which I all too often found lacking in this book. I would have been much happier if the book was clearer on the details of the evolution of computer design, rather than on the design of the buildings in which they were designed and built.

- The book is misrepresented – The title of the book implies that it is about Alan Turing and computers, but Alan Turing is only a minor character. The subtitle “The Origins of the Digital Universe” implies that the book covers the origin of computer in general. As has been noted, while Turing and computers in general are discussed they are not the focus of the book. A more accurate title might have been “von Neumann’s Computer”, but I guess that the publisher, who generally decides on the title, felt that this title would not sell as well as the one he chose (especially since the year the book was published was the 100th anniversary of Turing’s birth).

While I learned something’s about John von Neumann, the computers that he worked on, and some important problems that these computers were put to work solving, the most important things that I learned were that I would like read a full von Neumann biography and a book that covers all of the different efforts that have led to the “digital universe”. This book only whetted my appetite to learn more about these subjects.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The origins of my work environment 10. März 2016
Von James A. Lewis - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
I entered the digital computer world as an enlisted cryptographic in 1964. By that date the most meaningful events described in this book had transpired. I spent my working life in the lower orders of data processing -- first as a hardware technician, then analysis salesman and finally as a designer. Reading this book was mesmerizing because it revealed where and how my workplace originated. For a student of history though, I was thrilled by our country's CULTURAL robbery of Europe's finest intellectuals at the time that both we and the dictators needed them most. Our luck and the barbarians stupidity.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Breathtaking in scope, depth, and originality 6. Mai 2016
Von Michael J. Edelman - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
The early history of computing is usually presented in a simple linear fashion: Atonsoff, Mauchley and Eckert, Turing and the Enigma project, Von Neumann, and the post war explosion. That's the way I learned it in college in the 70s, and the way just about every book presents it. It's correct, insofar as it goes, but it leaves out a tremendous amount of richness and detail that George Dyson relates in this book. His narrative consists of over a dozen parallel, interrelated, stories, each concentrating on one person or project, along with how they or it relates to the overall narrative. The story begins with the history of Princeton, New Jersey, and the two men most responsible for the creation of the Institute for Advanced Study: Abraham Flexner, and Oswald Veblen, son of economist Thorsten Veblen. Flexner and the younger Veblen shared a vision of creating a place in which the world's greatest thinkers, able to interact freely and freed from the mundane obligations of teaching and practical applications, would advance the world's knowledge on a heretofore unprecedented scale. In so doing they inadvertently created one of the era's greatest centers for applied research into computing.

Turing and von Neumann make their appearances here, of course, along with Mauchley, Eckert, Oppenheimer, Ulam, Freeman Dyson (the authors' father), and other notables of the era. But Dyson also tells the story of a number of pioneers and contributors to the design, construction, and most of all the theory of computation, who have been overlooked by history. Most remarkable, perhaps, is Nils Barricelli, who could justifiably be called the founder of computational biology. Working in the early 1950s with a computer having less computational power and memory than a modern day sewing machine, he created a one-dimensional, artificial,universe in order to explore the relative power of mutation and symbiosis is the evolution of organisms. His work led to a number of original discoveries and conclusions that would only be rediscovered or proposed decades later, such as the notion that genes originated as independent organism, like viruses, that combined to create more complex organisms.

There's an entire chapter on a vacuum tube, the lowly 6J6, a dual triode created during the war that combined several elements necessary for the creation of a large scale computer: Simplicity, ruggedness, and economy. It fulfilled one of von Neumann's guiding principals for ENIAC: Don't invent anything. That is, don't waste time inventing where solutions already exist. By the nature of its relative unreliability and wide production tolerances relative to project goals, it also helped stimulate a critical line of research, that of how to created reliable systems from unreliable components- something more important now than ever in this era of microprocessors and memory chips with millions and even billions of components on a chip.

The chapter on Alan Turing is particularly good, covering as it does much of his work that has been neglected in biographies and presenting a much more accurate description of his work and his contributions to computational science. The great importance of his conceptual computer- the "Turing Machine"- is not, as is commonly stated in popular works, that it can perform the work of any other computer. It is that it demonstrated how any possible computing machine can be represented as a number, and vice versa. This allowed him to construct a proof that there exist uncomputable strings, I.e., programs for which it could not be determined a priori whether they will eventually halt. This was strongly related to Godel's work on the completeness of formal systems, and part of a larger project to disprove Godel's incompleteness theorem.

What makes this a particularly exceptional book is the manner in which Dyson connects the stories of individuals involved in the birth of electronic computing with the science itself. He does an exceptional job of explaining difficult topics like Godel incompleteness, the problems of separating noise from data, and the notion of computability in a way that the intelligent read who may not have advanced math skills will understand. More importantly, he understands the material well enough to know what are the critical concepts and accomplishments of these pioneers of computing, and doesn't fall into the trap of repeating the errors of far too many popular science writers. The result is a thoroughly original, accurate, and tremendously enjoyable history. Strongly recommended to anyone curious about the origins of computers and more importantly, the science of computing itself.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen He does better when recounting pure history and not speculating about its ... 29. September 2014
Von Gregory D. Smith - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
I am fascinated by this period in the history of technology, and the book's major premise -- that the IAS computer and its creators represented the first true fully realized digital computer -- has long been one of the core lessons in the technology history classes I teach. The book filled in a lot of details in my somewhat fuzzy appreciation of von Neumann and his role in many areas of 20th-century mathematics and technology. I was fascinated from beginning to end and couldn't put this book down while reading. However, some readers will be put off by the extremely non-linear storytelling style -- it jumps frequently between decades, continents and personalities with no clear defining plan -- and I find Dyson's attempt to link today's apps and search engines to von Neumann's and Turing's work in cellular automata and artificial intelligence a bit of an intellectual stretch. He does better when recounting pure history and not speculating about its links to the future.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Bored to tears by irrelevant detail 16. September 2016
Von Individual Investor - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
I bought this books with great expectations. My first contact with computers was in 1959 and I got a job as a programmer with the IBM Service Bureau in 1960. The life and exploits of Alan Turing are endlessly fascinating and tragic. Code breaking reads like a thriller. John von Neumann is renowned in many fields. With this cast of characters united in Turing's Cathedral I expected a grand recounting of the birth of computers. Instead I got a gossip column and some history about the long dead ancestors of some of the players, their farms or other businesses.

I can't for the life of me understand the acclaim this book has garnered. What's so interesting about the minutiae that a report was copied on a mimeograph or that Veblen broke the back legs of a chair? About one third though I trashed the book.
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