What would existence be like without a computer? It’s tough to envision but it wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t have them. Now many of us carry numerous computers, i.e. laptops, e-readers, and smartphones.
George Dyson, a science historian, asks how we went from having no computers to having many in such a short time period in his book, Turing’s Cathedral.
Dyson, the son of scientist Freeman Dyson, has spent a lot of his life at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies. The institute was home to many of the world’s most powerful scientific minds whilst the first digital computer was being developed.
After you’ve read Turing’s Cathedral, you will discover just how much chance went into creating the machine that brought about the computers we currently take for granted. The personalities at the Princeton Institute didn’t often mesh well, but somehow they were able to produce the world’s first digital computer. This machine was created and run from an otherwise nondescript building in New Jersey.
When great minds work on a project there are sure to be rivalries and heated arguments, the creation of the computer was no different. This book reveals that the individuals that worked on this project were geniuses, certainly not saints. In addition there were some ethical problems that the creators of the computer faced while working on this project, since the work they were doing had a close association with the U.S. nuclear weapons project.
You might have the notion that a history book about computers will not only be dry but also full of complicated jargon. This is not true with Turing’s Cathedral; nearly everybody who use computers will find this book interesting. Which is a lot of people these days.