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Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,535 ratings  ·  243 reviews
Women are not ancillary to the history of technology; they turn up at the very beginning of every important wave. But they've often been hidden in plain sight, their inventions and contributions touching our lives in ways we don't even realize.

Author Claire L. Evans finally gives these unsung female heroes their due with her social history of the Broad Band, the women who
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Portfolio
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  1,535 ratings  ·  243 reviews

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Start your review of Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet
Women invented computer programming and were instrumental at every turn where the hardware the boys created, but failed to think of its applications, needed to be put to use. After the girls have proven that this was serious science - the boys pushed them out if it.... again and again. Women would take over “fringe” areas (such as hypertext and social networks) but not taken seriously, until the men took over.

This book explores the role of women in computing and the Internet. The first half is
This is an interesting book about the history of women coders, engineers, mathematicians, entrepreneurs as well as visionaries who helped create and shape the internet. Evans even discusses Ada Lovelace, the mathematician daughter of Lord Byron.

The book is well written and researched. Evans is a journalist so the writing style is that of a journalist. Evans reviews the stories of women scientists such as the famous Grace Hopper, who worked on Harvard Mark One, to more recent women such as Stanfo
Kara Babcock
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every so often, you read a non-fiction book that just speaks to you, that sticks with you because it’s not just informative but because it fits your level of background knowledge and expands your understanding of a topic perfectly. Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet is such a book for me. Claire L. Evans traces the development of the modern Internet from its precursors, the earliest mechanical and electronic computers, all the way to the present day—all through the l ...more
Peter Tillman
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-tech, history
I enjoyed this historical review of computer technology and the origins of the Internet. You've likely heard of Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper, but past that was mostly new territory for me. I liked the author's style and depth of research. The author takes things as they come, but women in computer tech have had a tough time from the start: in the pre-electronics days, a "computer" was a person with a mechanical calculator, and the bosses generally hired women because they would work for half th ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, tech, history
This was a detailed, in-depth look at the contributions of women pioneers in computer science, the internet, and the web. The book is an example of well-done historical storytelling -- lots of interviews, stories, and first-person accounts discussing topics familiar and unfamiliar. Many of the anecdotes were things I'd never known about before, but sounded like something I would have wanted to be a part of. The research was thorough and the featured women were carefully selected to cover an inte ...more
Very interesting, highly recommended.
Andrew Louis
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book where I had trouble deciding which paragraphs *not* to highlight. Incredible combination of original research, narrative, and politics.
LAPL Reads
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Who made the Internet? Popular culture might have you picture a young, white, nerdy man as the architect and designer, the artist and innovator, behind the Internet. Maybe he’s arrogant and standoffish. Maybe he’s shy and brilliant. He probably wears glasses. There are people like him in the story of the Internet, but his story isn't the only one. There are lots of other people who contributed to creating this valuable resource--hundreds of stories behind the making of the Internet. Women also m ...more
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
When the ENIAC was first displayed for the public, its proponents bragged that it could do complex mathematical calculations in seconds which would have taken a skilled man hours upon hours. Well...baloney. The ENIAC was an admirably complex array of metal, but without the human beings who had pored over its every component, turning their brains into maps of circuit boards, creating the very language that was needed to put that array of metal to work -- it was useless. Hours and hours of human e ...more
Pallavi Mohan
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This. This piece of work resonated with me more than most works have, probably because I lived the history Evans talks about in her closing chapters - the dawn of the hypertext, an entire girlhood searching for female role models in computer science, searching for community and kinship within a forest of hyperlinks - and now, the foray into a field in academia that has a glaring dearth of female representation. Evans gives voice to the unacknowledged, and resurrects on paper the long-diminished ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Vicky by: via the announcement on YACHT's Instagram
I had to take a detour in my mind while reading this book to recall 1998-99—the time when I first connected to the Internet on the boxy Compaq machine that my family had at home, thanks to my older cousin who helped us set up a NetZero account. I remember the year before, when it was my turn to state to my classmates what I wanted to be in the future, I said "computer programmer" without fully knowing what it meant. I was in the middle of the chapter about the Echo community in New York when I g ...more
Lauren Stoolfire
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans is fascinating. How is this not more common knowledge? I liked getting to know the historical aspects of Ada Lovelace and her work, but over the course of the book I was hoping for more of a focus on more modern history. Of course, that historical backing gives us a good foundation for what's coming. Overall, the information of the women who worked oftentimes behind the scenes, is presented in an understandable wa ...more
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
It was interesting to learn about women's role in the history of computing, hypertext, and the Internet. However, there were two ways this book fell short for me. First, Evans seemed to only focus on one type of woman: the counterculture, feminist, riot grrl. Surely not every woman who contributed to computers and the Web fits into this mold. Second, the author talks way to much about herself. For example, she constantly said things like Nancy told me x, y, and z. The book would have flowed bett ...more
May 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
I got this out from the library as an ebook and it's fine. I can definitely see the audience for this, but I had a tough time. Every time I went to go read it on the train I wanted to look out the window instead. Each person felt like they were really discussed for so long with the same points over and over - I would have loved a "highlights" or New Yorker review style piece with this same topic. That's not to say it doesn't deserve book-length treatment, just that I personally wasn't that into ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting history of women and computers. The chapters on the Internet were especially interesting since I felt like I should know it because I lived through it, but I learned a lot.
Caleb Ross
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Where some could read the title of the book, Broad Band, and fear that the book will be a dismantling of the efforts of men (and therefore may approach the book with hesitation) others will approach the book wanting such a dismantling. But the book never comes across as aggressive or anti-male. Rather, it simply corrects the common history. The presence of women in technology have largely been buried and in some cases literally cropped out. Broad Band introduces us to the women behind the variou ...more
Alex Johnson
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but as someone who is peripherally involved with computer science I was intrigued by this topic. If you are interested in learning more about how the internet came to be and the overall importance of women in computing, this book is a satisfactory introduction.
Evans did a nice job throughout the book honing in on specific women and movements and how they helped build technology today. The writing wasn't phemonal, but there were a few lines I enjoyed.
The ending w
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
This. Was. Fascinating. The classic case of society and culture rewriting history. Also, how much does it freaking suck that something is only “legitimate” once men do it? Women have been on the cutting edge of computing since they were the computers themselves. I had only heard of one of these women before, and that’s a damn shame. Definitely recommend!!
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A slow but ultimately rewarding read.
I read this just after finishing “Invisible Women” so I was ready to be angry... but instead I was intrigued and saddened. And cheered, paradoxically, by story after story of women just making sh*t happen despite the bro-geek culture.
I grew up watching/ on the sidelines of the tech wreck and now working in tech and I feel this is a great book that speaks to my inner voice saying “why are there so few women in my office?”
I loved learning so many new things
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-books, history
Fascinating book that works well in audio format. Did leave me wanting to know more, so I would be interested in a part 2 that would continue the history into current times.
Katie/Doing Dewey
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the story of the women who made technological advances that gave us the internet and computers as we know them today. I love stories about women in tech history, so I knew I had to pick it up. The author won me over immediately with her enthusiasm for her own first computer. Then she lost me as she started talking about how the women she interviewed were all people especially good at making computers accessible, although they didn’t create them. Even with her caveats disavowing gender es ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book.

I wanted it to be longer and more in depth or maybe several volumes.

I feel like I didn't get enough of any one person.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative and inspiring. This made me want to dive deeper into the biographies of women like Grace Hopper and Ada Lovelace. It also made me nostalgic for the hopeful utopian days of the 90s when there was still so much potential in this new thing called the World Wide Web. Little did we know what a garbage fire the Internet has become.
Andy Oram
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gender, technology
As the subtitle suggests, this book reveals key contributions--technical and organizational--made by women going back to ENIAC and beyond. One might call this the indispensable missing half to Stephen Levy's famous, hyper-testosterone-driven history Hackers. To illustrate how historians shape perception, consider the famous Berkeley, California project called Community Memory. Levy covers the male inventor of that project in detail, but fails to mention the woman who provided the computer that m ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Who would have thought that a non-fiction books would have kept me marching down memory lane for hours of reading? Nor would I have believed that it would incite me to gadabout the Internet for computer history and take the first notes I have taken in 20 years in order to remember something I read. I will be feeding selected parts of this into the memoir that I keep waiting to add some context to.

Finding about the secretary type jobs that meshed into being "computers" and programmers for women
Maranda Dynda
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is easily my favorite book I've read all year, one of my favorite non fiction books ever, and a book I'll never forget. I was so encapsulated in it, I read it all in one day.

if you are in any way interested or invested in tech and/or feminism, then I insist you read this book

the book walks us all the way from Ada Lovelace to and through the dot com boom/burst. This was my one problem with the book: it ended. I can only hope that there will be a follow up with more on the modern works a
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! First, I felt an affinity with the author, like we probably got computers and got online around the same time. Second, the accounts of these women and their inventions and their motivations were deeply interesting and inspiring to hear, especially the artsy, punk, counter-culture ones. A theme of the book was how women's efforts in computing have been continually erased, but in a kind of hopeful, "let's uncover and celebrate all this great work!" way that didn't leave me feeling ...more
Rita Ciresi
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Move over, Al Gore! The dozen or so "broads" in Broad Band contributed much more to the formation of the Internet and had the humility and grace not to claim that they had "took the initiative in creating [it]." This is one of a slew of wonderful books that have come out over the past year that teaches us about the hidden women behind the science. A fascinating read!
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read for computing history buffs and people in the tech industry.

Gets off to a shaky start with a weak opening chapter and occasional lapses in writing style but it is 100% worth pushing through.

I learned so much about the early internet, BBS era, and dotcom boom that I'd never heard before. The New York scene and early ARPAnet NoC were particularly interesting to me.
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As much about how our internet came to be as it is about the unsung women who shapes it (and the technologies that came before and those sure to come after): wholly fascinating; rigorous, lucid, ambitious, and beautiful. I was cliffhanging on Claire Evan's every page. It's a dazzling masterpiece.
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