Computing Reviews

A brief history of computing (3rd ed.)
O’Regan G., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2021. 384 pp. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: 12/28/21

The first four chapters of A brief history of computing are similar to what is usually described in the history section of an introductory computer science (CS) textbook: everything from ancient civilizations like Egypt to Turing and the first computers. The following chapters, however, contain a lot of information that will be interesting to most readers--even professionals in the field.

Chapters 5 through 12 describe, in interesting (and not only technical) detail, different computers as well as different computer-related companies, including their designers, their business leaders, and their successes and failures. Chapters 13 through 19 contain the history of operating systems, interfaces, programming languages, software engineering, telecommunications, the Internet, and smartphones and social media. The history of many other computing ideas, from distributed systems, cloud computing, and GPS, all the way to quantum computing, forms chapter 20. Chapter 21 describes the history of databases, and chapter 22 is devoted to the history of artificial intelligence (AI)--and it would be useful for incoming CS students to learn that AI is much broader than deep learning. Finally, chapters 23 and 24 contain an interesting overview of the history of ethical and legal issues related to computers.

This book is intended for CS students interested in CS history--and it is indeed a perfect source of information for this audience. The book will also be interesting to nonprofessionals enthused about the history of computing; they may have to skip a couple of technical paragraphs now and then, but overall, they will enjoy this book.

Reviewer:  V. Kreinovich Review #: CR147395

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