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The Computing Universe: A Journey through a Revolution Hardcover – December 8, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (December 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521766451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521766456
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,251,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Tony Hey has made significant contributions to both physics and computer science and with The Computing Universe he and his co-author share the knowledge and history that has inspired us all."
Bill Gates

"In this lavishly illustrated and refreshingly nonlinear introduction to the people, ideas, machines, and codes that ushered us into the age of computation, Tony Hey and Gyuri Pápay have assembled a comprehensive, authoritative, and nonpartisan account of how we got here, combined with much useful insight into how computers work and what may lie ahead. Although filling a conspicuous need for an introduction to computer science for nonscientists, all scientists - including computer scientists - will find this an illuminating book."
George Dyson, author of Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe

"Tony Hey and Gyuri Pápay have produced a comprehensive and wonderfully readable guide to the field. The breadth of topics is amazing - from the early history of Babbage and Turing to topics of today, such as botnets and machine learning, to things on the horizon, including quantum computing and synthetic biology. Even an essay on computers in science fiction! There's something here for everyone, from the interested novice to the seasoned computer professional. Each chapter is full of fascinating facts that lend texture and color to the evolution of this change-the-world field."
Ed Lazowska, Bill and Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington, and former Co-Chair, President's Information Technology Advisory Committee

"Tony Hey and Gyuri Pápay have made a major contribution to computing history. This is a must-read for fans of history in any field, and it will absolutely stand the test of time."
John Hollar, CEO, Computer History Museum

"The Computing Universe takes the reader on a panoramic journey through the world of digital computing. Using clear and nontechnical language, it explains the technological breakthroughs, the fundamental concepts, and the future prospects of the digital revolution. It is a work of considerable depth and scholarship, brought to life by many interesting historical vignettes and entertaining anecdotes."
Richard Karp, Turing Award Winner, University of California, Berkeley

"I recommend the book as a highly readable account of the fascinating ideas of computer science and the fascinating people who invented them."
Tony Hoare, Turing Award Winner, Microsoft Research Ltd

"This is a celebration of an astonishingly prolific period of technological development, and a book that could act as a gateway for a new generation of innovators and game-changers."
Times Higher Education

Book Description

This exciting and accessible book takes us on a journey from the early days of computers to the cutting-edge research of the present day that will shape computing in the coming decades. It introduces a fascinating cast of dreamers and inventors who brought these great technological developments into every corner of the modern world, and will open up the universe of computing to anyone who has ever wondered where his or her smartphone came from.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I found most of this book a thoroughly enjoyable read. The introduction provides a good overview of the book and states its intentions as well as its target audience. While the stated aim is a first year university student the chapter on binary and boolean logic for example takes a very basic approach and I found the majority of the book highly accessible. While not a computing academic I have been involved in various aspects of computing almost since the first PC so would consider myself an 'informed reader'.

Much of the book was fascinating and I learnt a lot about EDVAC and early computing machines for example. There were good illustrations and learning outcomes in each chapter and the time line and mini biographies gave very good overviews.

The sheer scope of this book is remarkable and it is not a quick read. There is a chapter which the authors describe as much more mathematical than others and suggest non mathematicians may wish to skim and I confess I did. I did not skip any other chapters though. Some I found completely fascinating and found it hard to tear myself away. Obviously not all the chapters had that effect on me however the style of writing I found made reading very easy for the most part.

I did find the chapter on hacking/worms/viruses much less convincing than many of the others. I realise that this book is intended as more of an overview however this chapter lacked the depth and authority of others. In general I felt it was weaker on more modern computing issues with Twitter and Facebook getting mentioned almost in passing for example. I liked the idea of a chapter on the "literature of computing" and the diverse threads discussed there were a useful contrast to the more technical aspects of computing.
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