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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Man Who Invented the Computer by Jane Smiley


“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Man Who Invented the Computer: The Biography of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer by Jane Smiley

from the publisher:
From one of our most acclaimed novelists, a David-and-Goliath biography for the digital age: the first entry in Doubleday’s joint Great Innovators series with the Sloan Foundation.

One night in the late 1930s, in a bar on the Illinois–Iowa border, John Vincent Atanasoff, a professor of physics at the University of Iowa, after a frustrating day performing tedious mathematical calculations in his lab, hit on the idea that the binary number system and electronic switches, com­bined with an array of capacitors on a moving drum to serve as memory, could yield a computing machine that would make his life and the lives of other similarly burdened scientists easier. Then he went back and built the machine. It worked. The whole world changed.

Why don’t we know the name of John Atanasoff as well as we know those of Alan Turing and John von Neumann? Because he never patented the device, and because the developers of the far-better-known ENIAC almost certainly stole critical ideas from him. But in 1973 a court declared that the patent on that Sperry Rand device was invalid, opening the intellectual property gates to the computer revolution.

Jane Smiley tells the quintessentially American story of the child of immigrants John Atanasoff with technical clarity and narrative drive, making the race to develop digital computing as gripping as a real-life techno-thriller.

Publishing 10/12/2010 by Doubleday.

6 comments:

TheBookishSnob said...

Sounds like it could be interesting. Not something I usually read though but I hope you enjoy it when it's released :) Enjoy!

Here's my WOW for this week

Scoot said...

Sounds like an interesting book! I hope you enjoy it!

Christie (The Fiction Enthusiast) said...

Sounds interesting! Nice pick!

Alayne said...

Well this looks interesting and informative! Nice pick. Mine is at The Crowded Leaf.

Joy said...

Wow I didn't know she had a new one out. I will have to add it to my never ending reserve list.
Have a great week reading!
Joy at Books and Life

Patti's Pages said...

I'm a software developer and surprised that I haven't heard about this one. Thanks for the tip!