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IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 13 Number 2 -- Reviews Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129684D
Original Publication Date: 1991-Mar-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 5 page(s) / 25K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People



This article describes the development, introduction, and application of punched card machinery into a variety of business and government agencies between 1900 and 1940. It is one of the few places where this subject is treated in a thorough and systematic way. In telling this story, Norberg shows how the culture of computing with tabulators, for both the companies that made them and the customers that used them, bridged the worlds of calculating by hand and calculating by electronic computer.

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Copyright ©; 1991 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.



The Reviews Department features reviews of films, audio and videotapes, exhibits, and publications relating to the history of computing. Full-length studies of any technical, economic, business, social, or institutional aspect of the history of computing will be given a complete review.

Dissertations, articles, and other studies of interest to Annals readers will be listed in a section on "Other Literature, with full bibliographic citation and notes on its nature and availability.

Colleagues are encouraged to participate by indicating their wish to review a work or by suggesting titles to the Reviews Editor.

Reviews without a byline are by the editor.


Penzias, Arno, Ideas and Information: Mana3lng In a High-tech World. W. W. Norton 8 Co., Inc., New York, NY, 1989, 224pp., $17.95

This fascinating and charming book sets out to demystify the computer and relate it to human beings and the human brain. Along the way the author, Nobel laureate and vice-president of Bell Laboratories, recites a little of the history of computing and gives some anecdotal details of Bell Labs participation in it. The book is a splendid example of how to use appropriately selected historical material to support and make interesting the teaching of an arcane subject. Penzias not only comments on the work and contributions of a few early greats like Babbage, Morse, Kelvin, and Turing but also on less famous Bell Labs giants like Bentley, Condon, Hopfeld, Tank, Komptner, Stibitz, and Thompson. He goes further and makes some penetrating remarks about some contemporary figures outside of Bell like Geneen, Wozniak, Jobs, and Sculley.

The book is important to the history of computing but not because it presents any new facts or information for it does not. Except for Penzias' personal anecdotes he merely reworks previously published material. The book is important because it reveals how an intelligent and well-informed scientific leader understands the history of computing and what he thinks is sufficiently important in it to be communicated to lay people. He does not see the history of computing as a story of the development of hardware or software or algorithms or businesses. Instead he sees it as the story of the people who participated in it and in terms of the current and probable future effect of computers on human beings. In that connection he engages in the "will machines ever think" controversy, coming down strongly on the human side with "I have no doubt that the world's most powerful information tool will continue to be the human mind."

This is a splendid book which should be read and will be savored by all who think they think about computers.

Eric A. Weiss P.O. Box 15943 Honolulu, III 96815 U.S.A.

IEEE Computer Society, Mar 31, 1991 Page 1 IEEE...