B C, Before Computers

On Information Technology from Writing to the Age of Digital Data

by Stephen Robertson

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Book Description

The idea that the digital age has revolutionized our day-to-day experience of the world is nothing new, and has been amply recognized by cultural historians. In contrast, Stephen Robertson's BC: Before Computers is a work which questions the idea that the mid-twentieth century saw a single moment of rupture. It is about all the things that we had to learn, invent, and understand - all the ways we had to evolve our thinking - before we could enter the information technology revolution of the second half of the twentieth century. Its focus ranges from the beginnings of data processing, right back to such originary forms of human technology as the development of writing systems, gathering a whole history of revolutionary moments in the development of information technologies into a single, although not linear narrative.

Treading the line between philosophy and technical history, Robertson draws on his extensive technical knowledge to produce a text which is both thought-provoking and accessible to a wide range of readers. The book is wide in scope, exploring the development of technologies in such diverse areas as cryptography, visual art and music, and the postal system. Through all this, it does not simply aim to tell the story of computer developments but to show that those developments rely on a long history of humans creating technologies for increasingly sophisticated methods of manipulating information.

Through a clear structure and engaging style, it brings together a wealth of informative and conceptual explorations into the history of human technologies, and avoids assumptions about any prior knowledge on the part of the reader. As such the expert and the general reader alike will find it of interest.

This open book is licensed under a Creative Commons License (CC BY). You can download B C, Before Computers ebook for free in PDF format (28.0 MB).

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
In the beginning...
Chapter 2
Sending messages: the post
Chapter 3
Sending messages: electricity
Chapter 4
Spreading the word
Chapter 5
More about the alphabet
Chapter 6
Organising information
Chapter 7
Picture and sound
Chapter 8
On physics and physiology
Chapter 9
On perspective - and music
Chapter 10
Calculation
Chapter 11
Data processing
Chapter 12
Ciphers

Book Details

Publisher
Open Book Publishers
Published
2020
Pages
173
Edition
1
Language
English
ISBN13
9781800640290
ISBN10
1800640293
ISBN13 Digital
9781800640313
ISBN10 Digital
1800640315
PDF Size
28.0 MB
License
CC BY

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