IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 1 Number 2 -- Reviews
Original Publication Date: 1979-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Software Patent Institute
THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.
Copyright ©; 1979 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.
Policy. In an attempt to offer more prompt and more comprehensive coverage, the Reviews department is introducing a subsection for Capsule Reviews. In this manner it is expected to be able to beat the lengthy time which traditionally seems to elapse in scholarly journal publication between the appearance of a book and its formal review. Further, it will be possible to cover publications which, although they contain material of historical interest, do not warrant extended reviews. The ultimate purpose is twofold: to expand the information base of historically related material, and at the same time, to provide enough information about the subject matter of each publication to enable readers to decide whether or not to read it.
Readers are invited to participate in this reviewing activity by submitting brief reviews of their own, by suggesting titles to the Reviews Editor, or by submitting a manuscript of an extensive review.
The first review below is of the essay type. The Capsule Reviews section follows. Review items without bylines are by the Editor. -- H.S. Tropp
Perspectives on the Computer Revolution by Zenon W. Pylyshyn, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ., 1970, xx + 540 pp.
Many people believe that in the long run the history of the Computer Revolution will loom larger than that of the Industrial Revolution. Therefore books like the present collection of 35 papers arranged under the three general headings, The Development of Computer Science, Man and Machine, and Society and Machine, are valuable contributions to our present knowledge and also serve to rescue some early papers from oblivion.
As a person who has lived through (endured?) the Computer Revolution, I judge books like the present one in a number of ways.
First, are the articles representative? Yes, especially in going back to the old classics.
Second, do they recreate the flavor of the period? For me, no, but could any finite selection, no matter how large, recreate the period? We now know how it all came out (so far), we can probably pick out the important steps, but when it was all happening how could one be sure that what appeared to be junk was really junk? I doubt that any history could recreate the feelings of excitement, adventure, risk, confusion, elation, frustration, and hope. It is, therefore, no criticism to say that for me the papers recall only occasional faint echoes of what I now think happened then.
Third, how accurately do the papers predict the future (almost all the papers venture into predicting the future to some extent). Of course, selection removed the wildly wrong ones, but I am surprised how accurate we were in seeing what wa...