"Computing for Ordinary Mortals is a computer book for people who don't read computer books. It gives a straight-forward, basic look at how computers work, and is written for readers with no background in technology... The author really strikes the perfect balance between accuracy and understandability." - San Francisco Book Review
"[St. Amant's] stated goal is to provide enough information so anyone, from high school seniors thinking of studying computer science at university to bloggers writing about computer technologies, can analyze and discuss computing effectively. He succeeds admirably." - Technology and Society
From the Back Cover
"Reading this book reminded me why I got into computing in the first place. It's a stunning tale that begins with nascent computers from the 1800s and ends with some of the wonders of our time: computer graphics, artificial intelligence, and the Internet. Such a story could be impenetrable, but Professor St. Amant explains the arcana of computing with real-world stories and scenarios that will be accessible to everyone."
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--JOE MARKS, former Vice President & Fellow, Disney Research
"High school and college students take the same required courses as their parents did, as if the Information Age hadn't happened. Mathematics is considered essential for all students, but computation, which runs the modern world and affects every aspect of our lives, is not. Who is brave and skillful enough to explain the technology of the Information Age? Rob St. Amant's wonderful Computing for Ordinary Mortals tells us how computers and software work, how they support large applications and industries, what's theoretically possible, and the important interface between humans and machines."
--PAUL R. COHEN, Professor and Director, School of Information: Science, Technology and Arts, University of Arizona
"This text should be required for all high school students or university freshmen. Too often 'computer literacy' means little more than the ability to create a Power Point presentation or surf the web. Meanwhile computers are pervasive in work, school, and home settings--not to mention our mobile phones. Whether you want to be a knowledgeable worker, an empowered consumer, or a productive hobbyist, having a good intuition for the inner workings of computers will ease your fears and frustrations while guiding your actions along the way. Instead of penning a dry textbook full of technical details, St. Amant relies on metaphors and stories, from working in a bustling workplace (computer architecture), tending hiking trails (graph theory), planning renovations (algorithms), to running a family reunion (multi-tasking). Old-timers will recognize many favorite computer metaphors: pneumatic tubes (networking), recipes (programming), and puzzles (AI). The end result is a comprehensive and engaging introduction to modern computing."
--ELIZABETH MYNATT, Executive Director, Institute for People and Technology, Professor, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology