An unusual, wonderful, even visionary account of the early years of computers - a source of koans for coders

I haven't yet read +George Dyson's book Turing's Cathedral but I've watched its development, and heard George talk about it many times. (His keynote at OSCON a half-dozen years ago got a standing ovation.) George is a wonderful historian and a keen thinker.

This Guardian review is mixed but overwhelmingly positive, and suggests that that book is one of those rare books that matter. After criticizing the book for its sprawling difficulty, the review outlines three reasons why it is a "must-read":


"One: no other book about the beginnings of the digital age brings to life anything like so vividly or appreciatively the immense engineering difficulty of creating electronic logic for the first time; of creating originally, and without a template, the pattern of organisation which has since become absolutely routine, and been etched on silicon at ever smaller micron-distances in chip foundries. ...

"Two: no other book has engaged so intelligently and disconcertingly with the digital age's relationship to nuclear weapons research, not just as a moral quandary to do with funding, but as an indispensable developmental influence ....

"Three: no other book – this is where we get visionary – makes the connections this one does between the lessons of the computer's origin and the possible paths of its future."
+John Brockman titled his email to the Edge.org mailing list "An unusual, wonderful, even visionary account of the early years of computers - a source of koans for coders." That seems a nice summary of George's book.
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