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IBM's Early Computers

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  21 ratings  ·  5 reviews
In describing the technical experiences of one company from the beginning of the computer era, this book unfolds the challenges that IBM's research and development laboratories faced, the technological paths they chose, and how these choices affected the company and the computer industry. It chronicles the transformation of IBM into a computer company in a remarkably few ...more
Hardcover, 744 pages
Published December 3rd 1985 by MIT Press (MA)
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Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: conviction

Fundamental to the concept of the general-purpose digital computer was its adaptability to a wide variety of computing tasks. The instrument of that flexibility was the program, whereby the capabilities of the machine were marshaled and orchestrated to accomplish a specific purpose: the processing of a specific set of data to produce a new and more useful set.

Last fall I saw the Aiken-IBM Automatic Sequence Control Calculator, the ASCC as its designated in this book. Its an impressive piece of
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: retro-computing
This is a technical history of IBM computers from Herman Hollerith's 19th century census tabulators up to but not including the System/360 project. It can be considered the background of Fred Brooks's books on the System/360.

IBM was a 1924 rebranding of a company formed in a 1911 merger of three companies: a manufacturer of scales and meat and cheese slicers, a manufacturer of industrial time recording equipment, and a manufacturer of punched cards and tabulators. The tabulator company made
Nathan Davis
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This has got to be the most enjoyable book I've read in recent times.
Most computer books are a lot of fun, but there's always that sense of "I wish there were more technical details." Yes they solved a complex issue, but how? This book finally gave enough solid technical details to really suck me in. The only other book to even come close is Soul of a New Machine.
Computers have always had a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg element to me. If you get a new computer, and want to write programs on it
Oct 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in the history of technology.
While this requires some knowledge of computer programming and maths, it is a fairly accessible history of computing, from IBM's perspective.
I read the book more for the general technical history than for the corporate history, and it was suited to this. There is quite a bit of biography, especially at the beginning, it focuses quite a bit on some dead-end technologies (cathrode ray tube memory) and it generally takes a pro-IBM view of things, but it's worth working through.
Tobias Eriksson
A very slow read, nowhere as good as The Soul of A New Machine. But it was still interesting to read about the earlier days of computing.
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