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IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 18 Number 3 -- Reviews

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129960D
Original Publication Date: 1996-Sep-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 5 page(s) / 27K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

PEGGY KIDWELL: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The Reviews Department includes reviews of publications, films, audio and video tapes, and exhibits relating to the history of computing. Full-length studies of technical, economic, business, social, and institutional aspects or other works of interest to Annals readers are briefly noted, with appropriate bibliographic information.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1996 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Reviews

PEGGY KIDWELL, EDITOR

The Reviews Department includes reviews of publications, films, audio and video tapes, and exhibits relating to the history of computing. Full-length studies of technical, economic, business, social, and institutional aspects or other works of interest to Annals readers are briefly noted, with appropriate bibliographic information.

Colleagues are encouraged to recommend works they wish to review and to suggest titles to the Reviews Editor.

Gerard J. Holzmann and Bjorn Pehrson, The Early History of Data Networks. Los Alamitos, Calif.: IEEE Computer Society Press, 1995, ISBN 0-8186-6782-6, $35.00, 290 pp. Holzmann and Pehrson's title is somewhat misleading. This book is largely about the early history of telegraphy, with the bulk of attention focused on optical or aerial telegraphy. The dictionary defines a network as "a fabric or structure of cords or wires that cross at regular intervals." Most of these optical systems were linear (point to point); only the French can claim to have had a system (largely hub and spoke, with lines converging on Paris). None of these systems was a network in the modern or dictionary sense.

Still, optical telegraphy is a very important chapter in the history of data transmission, particularly because of the significance of software innovations, given the constraints imposed by the hardware. For those interested in a quick exposure to these systems, The Early History of Data Networks is a good place to start. It is, nevertheless, a rather unusual collection of material. The first three chapters consist of original material written by the authors. Chapter I provides a historical overview of attempts at long-distance communication, from classical times through the 17th century. Chapter 2 covers the first modern telegraph system, developed by Claude Chappe in France, a system that operated between 1793 and 1855 and at its peak encompassed almost 5,000 kilometers of lines. Chapter 3 is devoted to the telegraph system implemented by Abraham Edelkrantz in Sweden. The fourth chapter consists of a translation from the Swedish of a book by Edelkrantz entitled Treatise on Telegraphs and Experiments With a New Construction Thereof. The fifth chapter covers the early history of telegraphy, largely optical telegraphy, in countries other than France and Sweden. A very short Chapter 6, "About Invention," is followed by three appendixes reprinting relevant primary materials. The bibliography is also quite valuable for those interested in exploring these materials.

Much of the early history of telegraphy is not well-documented in standard textbooks, and to team about it, one must spend considerable time sorting through secondary materials of differing reliability and ultimately explore out-of-the-way arch...