Larry Hosken: New: Tag: vintage-computing

Book Report: The Innovators

It's a book of mini-biographies and mini-histories from the history of computing. The angle: it's about people worked together to make things happen.

I wish I'd read this book a while ago. Mostly, I wish I'd read it before I'd read so many biographies and histories from the history of computing. As it was, I waded past plenty of material I'd already learned about. It was kind of interesting to keep going to see some insight about how these folks had worked together. But there was a lot of wading. If I hadn't already read about so much of this, it would have been more interesting. E.g., I'd recently read What the Dormose Said, and so I was pretty sure that the nightclub name "Big Ng's" was a typo, and a typo that was kind of a sad typo to think about.

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Book Report: What the Dormouse Said

When I blogged about The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Daniel Fennelly (@danielfennelly) replied

And thus I read this history. There was stuff in there I hadn't heard of. There were student riots at Stanford against SRI's DARPA funding. Douglas Engelbart ("The Mother of all Demos" guy) tried LSD, but he'd already been thinking not-in-the-usual-pattern long before.

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Book Report: Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails

How the electric telegraph affected the course of the USA's Civil War. Historically, generals had a lot of leeway: whoever was in command out in the field made decisions out in the field. You wouldn't wait for word from HQ: getting a message there and back would take days. The telegraph changed that—but folks had to figure out how the telegraph changed that. Generals were expected to report back to HQ by telegraph. Lincoln would look at those reports—though they weren't addressed to him, send out questions, send out orders. Some generals resented this; some generals were used to sending false reports back home. But with the telegraph aiding cross-checking, those lies got caught early. Telegraphy's impersonal-ity meant that conversations could flare up into flame wars; folks had to work extra hard to stay civil in the Civil War.

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Overloaded Name

If you say
Gordon Moore, as in "Moore's Law"
…now we have to ask if you mean the Intel co-founder's rule of thumb about computer hardware advances or the San Francisco beat cop.

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Book Report: The Evolution of Cooperation It's a book by Robert Axelrod, who set up some groundbreaking game theory experiment/contests back in the day. He set up a computer program that would run other computer programs. Specifically, it ra...

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Book Report: The Theory that would Not Die It's a book on the history of Bayes' Theorem. Bayes' Theorem is, roughly, a handy tool for practical probability problems. Suppose you are an email system's spam filter. You see a new email message t...

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Book Report: Brain Storm This novel is by Richard Dooling, the same guy who wrote Bet Your Life, one of my favorite books of 2003. This book was pretty good, too. It's a legal thriller—hey, come back! It's a legal th...

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Book Report: Hackers It's another Steven Levy book about the history of technology. As with other Levy books, I keep spotting things that I know are wrong, so it makes me not trust Levy to tell me things I don't know. ...

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Book Report: The Mythical Man-Month (a Study Guide) If this book report seems a little heavy on the questions? It's because it's the first draft of a study guide? For people reading the book? Oh man it's way too long? But hey give me a break, it's...

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Book Report: Pattern Recognition I'd heard that William Gibson had written Pattern Recognition, this book that wasn't science fiction. So I didn't read it. That was years ago. More recently, I read Spook Country that wasn't exactl...

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Book Report: Applied Cryptography This is an old textbook about applying cryptography; that is, it's about computer security. It's the textbook by Bruce Schneier, the book he later said wasn't so important--you can get this stuff ri...

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Book Report: The Psychology of Computer Programming How to get programmers to get along together. Attempts to use psychology to design easier-to-use computer language features. Discussion of which is better for your organization's culture: batch proc...

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Book Report: The Man Who Loved China Back in 2002, I went to the British Museum where an old illustration maybe showed a punch-card controlled loom from ancient China--long before such were invented in the West. Bookish fellow that I a...

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Book Report: iWoz It is Steve Wozniak's autobiography, as told to Gina Smith. It's a fun read. Keep your wits about you as you read--they didn't fact-check all of this material. So when Wozniak tells you what was g...

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Book Report: Anathem Yesterday, I watched a co-worker give a "practice" thesis defense. My workplace has plenty of grad students who are just, uhm, taking a little break from school. He's one of them. I, on the other h...

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Book Report: On the Edge I posted that link to that "Another Bubble" video. Computer nostalgia is easy, you don't have to look back, the past just keeps coming back. That viper Wade Randlett who spread lies about the "New...

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Book Report: In Search of Stupidity I'm not working on gPhone the Open Handset Alliance. There were various internal recruiting drives for the project; I slunk away from those, kept my head down. I've worked on some mobile phone plat...

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Book Report: Core Memory I like old computers. This is a book of photos from the Computer History Museum. The photographer, Mark Richards, gave a talk at work a while back. When people asked him how he chose which things ...

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Book Report: The Man Behind the Microchip Lea W. is in town, visiting from Cincinnati. Several folks gathered at Yancy's Saloon on Irving to kick it with Lea. Michael asked the question: "What do you love to do? There are a bunch of things...

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Book Report: Dealers of Lightning Sometimes, it's good to be wrong. For example, I claim to be pretty jaded. But when I saw a little dog, a Yorkshire terrier-style dog, walking along this morning carrying a rubber chicken, I was fil...

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