Calculation and Computation in the Pre-electronic Era

The Mechanical and Electrical Ages
  • 1. Auflage
  • |
  • erschienen am 12. Januar 2018
  • |
  • 243 Seiten
E-Book | PDF mit Adobe DRM | Systemvoraussetzungen
978-1-84882-742-4 (ISBN)

Although it is popularly assumed that the history of computing before the second half of the 20th century was unimportant, in fact the Industrial Revolution was made possible and even sustained by a parallel revolution in computing technology. An examination and historiographical assessment of key developments helps to show how the era of modern electronic computing proceeded from a continual computing revolution that had arisen during the mechanical and the electrical ages.

This unique volume introduces the history of computing during the 'first' (steam) and 'second' (electricity) segments of the Industrial Revolution, revealing how this history was pivotal to the emergence of electronic computing and what many historians see as signifying a shift to a post-industrial society. It delves into critical developments before the electronic era, focusing on those of the mechanical era (from the emergence of the steam engine to that of the electric power network) and the electrical era (from the emergence of the electric power network to that of electronic computing). In so doing, it provides due attention to the demarcations between-and associated classifications of-artifacts for calculation during these respective eras. In turn, it emphasizes the history of comparisons between these artifacts.

Topics and Features:

  • motivates exposition through a firm historiographical argument of important developments
  • explores the history of the slide rule and its use in the context of electrification
examines the roles of analyzers, graphs, and a whole range of computing artifacts hitherto placed under the allegedly inferior class of analog computers
  • shows how the analog and the digital are really inseparable, with perceptions thereof depending on either a full or a restricted view of the computing process
  • investigates socially situated comparisons of computing history, including the effects of a political economy of computing (one that takes into account cost and ownership of computing artifacts)
  • assesses concealment of analog-machine labor through encasement ('black-boxing')
Historians of computing, as well as those of technology and science (especially, energy), will find this well-argued and presented history of calculation and computation in the mechanical and electrical eras an indispensable resource. The work is a natural textbook companion for history of computing courses, and will also appeal to the broader readership of curious computer scientists and engineers, as well as those who generally just have a yearn to learn the contextual background to the current digital age.

'In this fascinating, original work, Tympas indispensably intertwines the histories of analog and digital computing, showing them to be inseparable from the evolution of social and economic conditions. ' Prof. David Mindell, MIT

Dr. Aristotle Tympas is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the National and Kapodestrian University of Athens, Greece.
  • Englisch
  • London
  • |
  • Großbritannien
  • 5,26 MB
978-1-84882-742-4 (9781848827424)
1848827423 (1848827423)
weitere Ausgaben werden ermittelt
  • Intro
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • 1.1 Topic, Period, and Argument
  • 1.2 Theoretical Framework
  • 1.3 Line of Argumentation
  • 1.4 Strategy Regarding Primary Sources
  • References
  • Chapter 2: â??The Delights of the Slide Ruleâ??
  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 â??No Device Has Been of Greater General Interestâ??
  • 2.3 â??A Machine for Putting Logarithms to Workâ??
  • 2.4 â??A Very Ingenious Instrumentâ??
  • 2.5 â??High-Speed Scalesâ??
  • 2.6 â??The Habit of Attempting That â??Ficticious Accuracyâ??â??
  • 2.7 â??The Poor Manâ??s Calculatorâ??
  • 2.8 â??As Well as the Pianist Knows His Keyboardâ??
  • 2.9 â??Unfair to Compareâ??
  • 2.10 Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 3: â??Lightning Calculations Lightenedâ??
  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 â??With Lightning Speedâ??
  • 3.3 â??Extreme Accuracy with a Slide Ruleâ??
  • 3.4 â??An Indispensable Companionâ??
  • 3.4.1 â??For the Exercise of His Ingenuityâ??
  • 3.4.2 â??A Transmission Line Calculatorâ?? for â??the Most Tedious Problemâ??
  • 3.4.3 â??If Querist Will Lay Out His Slide Rulesâ??
  • 3.4.4 â??Equivalent to Millions of Dollars Annuallyâ??
  • 3.5 â??Speed Up Computations of Many Sortsâ??
  • 3.6 â??Uses Slide Ruleâ??
  • 3.7 Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 4: â??Like the Poor, the Harmonics Will Always Be with Usâ??
  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 â??Mathematician Par Excellenceâ??
  • 4.3 â??A Marvel of Mechanical Skill and Mathematical Accuracyâ??
  • 4.4 â??Eminently Satisfactoryâ??
  • 4.5 â??With a Reasonable Accuracyâ??
  • 4.6 â??Quickly and Easilyâ??
  • 4.7 â??The Skill of the Expert Mechanical Techniciansâ??
  • 4.8 â??Still Not the Ideal Analyzerâ??
  • 4.9 Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 5: â??The Inner Satisfaction That Comes with Each Use of the Alignment Chartâ??
  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 â??A Perfect Poem: The Most Lovely Exposition of Mathematics in Simple Formâ??
  • 5.3 â??A Convenient Table: AÂ Welcomed Helpâ??
  • 5.4 â??New Catechism of Electricityâ??
  • 5.5 â??It Would Lead Too Far to Explain Here in Detail the Laying Out of an Alignment Chartâ??
  • 5.6 â??Done Graphically Without the Computer Knowing Anything Whatever About the Mathematicsâ??
  • 5.7 â??Mention Should Be Made of a Circle Diagram that Picturizes in a Most Simple and Practical Mannerâ??
  • 5.8 â??Time-Honored Graphical Procedures Within a Modern Technical Frameworkâ??
  • 5.9 Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 6: â??The Appearance of a Neatly Finished Boxâ??
  • 6.1 Introduction
  • 6.2 â??Cannot Be Altered Until the Operation Has Been Finishedâ??
  • 6.3 â??The Miscalculation of Mainsâ??
  • 6.4 â??Can Be Put in the Hands of a Girlâ??
  • 6.5 â??The True Automatic Machine Belongs to a Possible Rather Than an Actual Classâ??
  • 6.6 â??No Short Summary Can Be at All Completeâ??
  • 6.7 Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 7: Conclusion
  • References
  • Index

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