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Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.36
777 used & new from $0.01

2 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Real Estate Example Flawed, April 10, 2007
I am not an economist, but I was a real estate agent for 16 years, and the authors do not understand the realities of real estate.

First of all, the agent is always "she" which is not true.

Second, when a real estate agent lists a house, the agent is in competition for the listing with other agents. Sellers tend to list with the one who is willing to list the house at the highest price, thus agents tend to list it maybe as much as 10% above what the historical data shows the sales price range is for that type of house in its neighborhood. This can be justified to some extent because most agents have experienced listings that sold above what the data showed to be its market value. This can happen because a buyer comes from an area where houses are more expensive there than here. Or, perhaps two buyers fall in love with a house and get in a bidding war with each other.

On the other hand, for the agent's own property, the agent knows fairly accurately the range of prices is for house and lists it accordingly.

As for keeping the agent's house on the market longer than a lister's house, most sellers have a time frame within which they need to sell the house without complications. People need to sell it before they can buy another in their new location. Sometimes, they have already bought another house and need to sell the first house to have the money for settlement on the next house. Many times, people just don't want to live with the anxiety of not knowing when their house will sell and for how much. Sometimes, people get tired of keeping the house spruced up for lookers. Often, they hate hearing what people say about their house. They just want to get it over with.

These are some of the reasons why the discrepancies occurred between the listed prices snd sales prices of owners' houses and listers' houses. A real estate agent would not be in business very long if the agent did not consider the many problems facing homeowners who have houses they probably love for sale. Moving is a big deal with many practical and emotional overtones.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 3, 2009 11:24 PM PST


Computers and Commerce: A Study of Technology and Management at Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company,                 Engineering Research Associates, and Remington Rand, 1946-1957 (History of Computing)
Computers and Commerce: A Study of Technology and Management at Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company, Engineering Research Associates, and Remington Rand, 1946-1957 (History of Computing)
by Arthur L. Norberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $33.31
74 used & new from $2.00

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of details but misses the important points, February 12, 2006
This book is loaded with details, but it carries little understanding or feel for the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC). Also it does contain outright errors. The BINAC's cycle time was not reduced to 2.5 megacycles. It ran at 4 megacycles, but the cycle time of the UNIVAC was 2.5 megacyles because of the difficulties with fine tuning the Binac. In fact, Pres Eckert was so concerned that the mercury delay line memory might not work for the UNIVAC that he secretly had me and Art Gehring do the logical design of the UNIVAC using electrostatic storage. This machine was microcoded. I believe it was the first one microcoded. Of course, it was never built because the mercury delay-line memory worked.

Northrop played a big role in the Binac's problems. The missle boys were in charge at Northrop, and they were paranoid about security. They didn't want any of EMCC's personnell on their site. So they crated up the BINAC and shipped it to California then laid the parts out on a hangar's floor and had a newly graduated electrical engineer put it together. Despite this, it did run. It was never flown controlling a Snark Missle, which was later cancelled. By the way, I never tried to program chess. What I programmed was the trajectory of the Snark Missle for Binac. Claude Shannon at Bell Labs had suggesed that a computer could be programmed to play chess so somebody introduced me to him, knowing I had spent one afternoon programming gin rummy.

Norberg doesn't give much time to Strauss of American Totalizator who had funded EMCC. He was a wonderful man and had the confidence of both the employees and Eckert and Mauchly. His untimely death was a real tragedy to the company.

Also, Norberg doesn't give enough credit for EMCC's problems to security clearance. This was the Joe McCarthy era when the unproven accusation by anyone could ruin another person's chances for security clearance. UNIVAC contracts were cancelled because the company's security was questioned, mainly due to questions about Bob Shaw and John Mauchly. When Kay Mauchly received John's FBI Report on his clearance after the Freedom of Informatin Act was passed, the big problems with his security were that he belonged to Consumers Union, which the Unamerican Activities Committee declared as communist, and he belonged to the American Association of Scientific Workers, which was also a questionable organization. John said he never joined it but may have signed up for a reprint from them at some scientific event.

Bob Shaw's was due to his car being parked on a street in Washington, D.C. when a so-called communist oriented march was taking place. Bob was a much more important member of the UNIVAC design team than Norberg gives him credit for. He was brilliant and drew all the logical block diagrams for the UNIVAC in about 6 weeks. Of course, they were based on the design settled on by many staff meetings. Still, an amazing feat. Bob was an albino with very poor eyesight. He drew the diagrams on 3X4 foot graph paper. Because of his eyesight, he could not drive a car, but he was quite social. Cars were not as plentiful then as now, so he bought a car and had various people drive him to social and business functions. One of his drivers asked to borrow his car one weekend to drive to Washington to visit a friend. It turned out to be on the day of the parade. The car was parked on the street, and the police came along and took down license plate numbers. Thus, Bob was supposed to be at the march. To add further madness to that era, the charges against one were also classified, thus one didn't know what the problems were.

When Remington Rand took over EMCC after Strauss's death, they were unbeleivably ignorant about computers and handling such a merger. I worked in Washington, D.C. for RemRand in 1950-1951 for H. H. Goodman whose main claim to fame was that he had reached his high position at RemRand without even graduating from the eighth grade in school. He basically told me that RemRand had more money than EMCC thus RemRand was smarter. The EMCC designers were dreamers and it would take a company like RemRand to lead them. They had no sales plans, no training plans, and no idea what it would take to run a computer installation. They waltzed me around to talk about the UNIVAC then the salesmen sold them typewriters and accounting machines. We had a wonderful computer ready for delivery and didn't sell it. In the meantime, IBM ran around town talking about a Defense Calculator, not even on the drawing board.

I had worked with brilliant engineers in an open, exciting atmosphere in which we knew we were pushing back frontiers, and here I was working with these incompetents. I knew they would lose the industry. That's when I decided to take time off and have a family.

I know nothing about ERA, but I've read about Seymour Cray and I am sure he was of the Pres Eckert and John Mauchly mold, brilliant, exciting and always on the frontier.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 7, 2011 8:06 PM PDT


When Computers Were Human
When Computers Were Human
by David Alan Grier
Edition: Hardcover
29 used & new from $12.94

19 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Confused Story, June 16, 2005
This book was written by the Editor-in-Chief of the Annals of the History of Computing. It is no mystery why the history of computing is so distorted and wrong. This man actually thinks that Atanasoff had a big effect on the computer world. Apparently, he read the rantings and ravings of the Burks duo in their books which carry on a vendetta against John Mauchly and raise Atanasoff to dizzy heights of glory. He never even built one computer and its remains at Ames, Iowa were consigned to the scrap heap. True, Judge Larson anointed him the title of electronic computer inventor at the trial that Honeywell got moved to Minnesota where they were the largest employer and could be sure of an oh so friendly judge. Of course, Honeywell didn't want to pay royalties on the ENIAC Patent. For the 20 years after the ENIAC was introduced, Atanasoff had never indicated he invented the electronic computer until Honywell told him he did and offered him a handsome bonus if the patent got overturned. He never even applied for a patent on his "first computer." Oh yes, the Judge also knew more than the patent office after its intense study that preceded the awarding of the patent. He decided it had been a year after public use before the patent was applied for. Really, a quite unknowledgeable judge in Minnesota knew more than the patent office. It is well known that Burks made a night-time visit to John Mauchly in Washington telling him bad things would happen to him if Burks was not included on the patent. Burks was truly a man of his word and has spent years proving it.

Grier calls the ENIAC an electronic differential analyzer. At one time, Atanasoff and Mauchly discussed such a thing, but it was just a discussion. Mauchly did not get into computing with his WPA students. He did use these students when he was at Ursinus but he had been involved in computing from the time he was a young man. Mauchly saw the ENIAC as a general purpose computer made up of 20 calculators with a master control. Its size was determined because Aberdeen bought it to do the firing table trajectories. It did over 100 millennium type problems in ita 10-year life at Aberdeen. It is interesting that Grier barely mentions Pres Eckert who has been designated the greatest electrical engineer of the 20th century. He spent plenty of time on Aiken and Stibitz, who were indeed pioneers, but their accomplishments are hardly as far reaching as those of Eckert and Mauchly. They went on to propose the EDVAC with a stored program, which was described by von Neumann in his famous EDVAC Report, drawn mainly from his sitting in on meetings with the Moore School engineers. Mauchly and Eckert went on to develop the Binac, the first stored program computer, the Univac, the first commercial computer, and Larc, the first computer with terminals. At one time, people used UNIVAC as a generic name for computer. Atanasoff couldn't even build an EDVAC type computer when given $400,000 to do at the Navy Ordnance Laboratory.

Eckert and Mauchly organized the Moore School Lectures, which spurred the development of computers around the world. Aiken, Stibitz and von Neumann gave none of the lectures. Von Neumann was scheduled to give one but became too busy to give it. The Moore School Lectures were given by Pres Eckert, John Mauchly, Brad Sheppard, Kite Sharpless, Bob Shaw, and Arthur Burks. Of course, they weren't given to the "human computers." They were given to those who would go back to their home bases and build computers, and indeed they did..

The group of "human computers" at Penn numbered more than a hundred. Lila Todd was one of those who set up the group. She is still alive as are many others, but Grier never managed to talk to any of them. He apparently believes recruiting is the important thing and not the work they did. When I came to the Frat House on Walnut Street in March of 1945 as a "computer," it was not a "girls only" group. There were a few men there.

I found the book almost impossible to read. Grier jumps around for little purpose. The one thing I did find interesting was the history of Oswald Veblen who was a long time ordnance man. I had always heard that he was the one who said "Give them the money" when Eckert and Mauchly gave their pitch on the ENIAC to the Science Committee at Aberdeen. With Veblen's long and distinguished background, it is no wonder that the committee did give them the money.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 10, 2008 10:47 AM PST


The First Electronic Computer: The Atanasoff Story
The First Electronic Computer: The Atanasoff Story
by Alice R. Burks
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from $27.74

8 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More venom from Burks, July 23, 2004
I read the Alice Burks book "Who Invented the Computer?" before I read this one, and I'm surprised to find this one even worse. It appears to have been written by a god and goddess who know what is in the hearts of men, especially John Mauchly and Pres Eckert. I think the first page should have started with their philosophy of John and Pres's characters expressed on p.181, "they were greedy, for fame and fortune, and did not want to acknowledge any prior invention." This is the premise under which they operate so of course they interpret everything as a proof of this premise. I knew Arthur Burk as a nice, mild-mannered man in the style of the Mr. Milquetoast depicted in the New Yorker cartoon. Apparently, he married a woman with magical powers who turned him into this vicious all-knowing author. I wonder if he would have been as self-righteous if he had been included on the ENIAC patent. He would probably have been able to stifle his virtue and never even dream of beating the drums for Atanasoff. They even include testimony of Mrs. Atanasoff that makes her sound as gracious as a pig at a trough. Of course, she knew Mauchly was staying with them. Her husband had told him that they had plenty of room and he was welcome.

John Mauchly was delighted to meet Atanasoff, who attended one of his lectures and came up to talk to him later. Both were interested in computers and eager to communicate with a kindred spirit. I'm sure they learned many things from each other and discussed many ideas. This was 1940 when they met and not very many people were interested in discussing computing. Both had things they wanted to do and current tools didn't allow them to do them very well. John was eager to find out if Atanasoff's computer could help him with his problems. Does anyone for a moment believe that the passage of knowledge flowed only in one direction? One would think that Atanasoff must have learned something from John, but this book would have you believe that Atanasoff had all the knowledge. If so, why was he so eager to have John come to see his computer, which I believe was never built until the ENIAC Trial.

Page 181 also displays their heavenly knowledge when they state, "It was not long before they realized that this machine would surpass the analyzer in the range of problems it could solve as well as in speed, and they began to call it a general purpose computer." How do they know that? John always told the ENIAC Women that it was general purpose and he always tried to get us to try to program a matrix inversion.

Their castigating of Kay Mauchly is shameful. Her arguments are always discounted while anything a lawyer, Atanasoff. or the judge says is pure truth. John's statements are all discounted and made fun of. This is such a vicious prejudiced book, with its venom repeated over and over again, it should be held up to ridicule. It cannot be taken seriously. And to think, Arthur has a Ph.D. Jean J. Bartik


Who Invented the Computer? The Legal Battle That Changed Computing History
Who Invented the Computer? The Legal Battle That Changed Computing History
by Alice R. Burks
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from $3.37

6 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How about an affadavit?, March 3, 2004
Kay has signed an affadavit swearing to the truth of her statement about Burkss' night-time visit. How about you Arthur?
You wrote a whole book disparaging Kay, so I assume you'll continue.
Putting stuff in writing doesn't make it so.
Jean J. Bartik
Oaklyn, Nj


Who Invented the Computer? The Legal Battle That Changed Computing History
Who Invented the Computer? The Legal Battle That Changed Computing History
by Alice R. Burks
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from $3.37

9 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Answer This, January 22, 2004
If Judge Larson was so impartial, why did he have Honywell's main
consultant, Paul Winsor, as the court computer expert? There were
certainly more capable and expert worthy than Honeywell's consultant.
Did Atanasoff's computer ever produce any computations. In fact, I
understand that when Atanasoff left the University to go to NOL, the
University threw whatever he had built in the basement out in the trash.
It was actually "built" for the trial.
As for Arthur Burks . John Mauchly testified at the trial that Burks
had tried to bribe/blackmail him for his testimony. If he would put
Burks, Sharpless, and Shaw on the ENIAC patent, he would testify for
Univac. If not, he would testify for Honeywell. Needless to say, neither
wanted him as a witness.
I have a copy that Kay Mauchly has written about the incident. It was
when the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) had its annual meeting
in Washington in 1967. Kay and John had a small suite at a hotel. When
they arrived back at their suite one day, there was a message from
Arthur Burks saying that he wished to speak to John. When he arrived, he
told them that he wanted to talk to John privately. Kay went into the
bedroom while John met with Arthur. John returned to Kay in about 5
minutes in a fury. He said that he wouldn't be blackmailed. Although he
was angry, John was also hurt because he had liked Burks, had roomed
with him when they both took the Moore School Electronics Course before
both became instructors, and had respected him as a logician and a
member of the ENIAC design team.
This gives me no pleasure because I too liked and respected Arthur
Burks. This would never have been written except for your sanctimonious
viciousness.
Jean J. Bartik
Oaklyn , NJ 08107


Who Invented the Computer? The Legal Battle That Changed Computing History
Who Invented the Computer? The Legal Battle That Changed Computing History
by Alice R. Burks
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from $3.37

16 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Vengeance with a capital V, November 15, 2003
Since her husband tried to blackmail Mauchly into putting his name on the ENIAC patent application and failed, the Burks Duo have been badmouthing him ever since. I just hope that someone will look over the trial documents and show how only a bought judge would act as Judge Larson did in this trial. Honeywell got the trial moved to Minneapolis where Honeywell is located. They were and maybe still are the largest employer in the state and own it politically. The judge was outrageous. Paul Winsor, a paid consultant to Honeywell, was the court computer expert. One would think the ABC computer, which was never built, was the IBM 360 and Atanasoff a Gene Amdahl. He never built any computer even when given $400,000 to do so. John with Pres Eckert built the ENIAC that ran for 10 years solving problems. Then they went on to design the EDVAC and build the Binac, the first stored program computer, Univac, the first commercial computer and Larc, 25 times faster than any computer of its time. Does anyone honestly believe that they got their ideas from Atanasoff? I don't think he thought so either until Honeywell told him so and offered to pay him $300,000 if they ould get the patent overturned.
Much has een made of John's weak testimony at the trial. He had been in the hospital being treated for his lifelong disease, HHT (Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia). It is characterized by causing holes to form in the lungs and lesions in the brain. John was not as alert as he had been when younger. After all, years had passed and John was now an old man. Larson treated him shabbily. Furthermore, he showed the patent office no respect, for it had taken years before granting the patent.
The book fairly reeks of venom and, even glee, at Goldstine's lie that the EDVAC paper by von Neumann was for internal distribution only. Imagine, Goldstine was the Security Oficer and he deliberately broke the law and nobody prosecuted him. Why not? Whatever harmed John was just wonderful.
This book deserves a place in the trash can, but I hope some researcher with more patience and stomach than I will look at the real trial in Minneapolis.
I was a friend, employee and coworker of John Mauchly and a friend for 58 years of Kay Mauchly with whom I worked on the ENIAC as a programmer. John was a brilliant and good man and a superb teacher. Those who knew him will not allow such garbage to dirty him in any way. He was what he was, and Alice Burks can't change that. Jean J. Bartik
Oaklyn, New Jersey 08107
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 1, 2013 4:19 PM PDT


Go To The Story Of The Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Scientists And Iconoclasts Who Were The Hero Programmers Of The Software Revolution
Go To The Story Of The Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Scientists And Iconoclasts Who Were The Hero Programmers Of The Software Revolution
by Steve Lohr
Edition: Hardcover
66 used & new from $0.01

76 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book but Computer History Wrong, January 3, 2002
I enjoyed this book very much. It was certainly true that nobody could predict who would be a good programmers. I must confess that I picked those who were intelligent and enthusiastic. It sounds like a jungle out there.
Now for my hot buttons. Why am I not surprised that the history is wrong? It's because the author suffers from the writers' "Curse," assuming things written down are the truth. Johnny von Neumann never even saw the ENIAC until its design was fixed and the system almost built. He did consult with Dick Clippinger and his programming group from 1947/48 when they turned the ENIAC into a stored program computer. At that time, people were presenting various instruction sets for computers and von Neumann suggested a one-address code with a central accumulator architecture for the ENIAC, which we used. My group at the Moore School was under contract to do the ENIAC programming. Actually, Dick Clippinger, Adele Goldstine and I, with some help from DRs. Giese and Galbraith from Aberdeen did the actual programming.
When von Neumann saw the ENIAC, he was excited by it and, learning Pres Eckert and John Mauchly and their design team were already at work on EDVAC, the ENIAC successor, he asked if he could sit in on the meetings. The EDVAC design already included the stored-program concept. See Eckert's interview with Peter Vogt for the Smithsonian Computer History Project. After a number of meetings, von Newmann skipped some meetings to go to Las Alamos, but he sent back the article, which Pres and John took as an internal document, summarizing the content of the meetings. Other members of the team were not allowed to write or talk about it. Goldstine, who was the Security Officer distributed von Neumann's article widely. Some Security Officer. Both Goldstine and von Neumann came from the University World where publishing is used to stake out claims. Both knew exactly what they were doing. They betrayed their colleagues and continued to do so. When Pres and John applied for an EDVAC patent, they discovered that this enterprising duo had already applied. Not too many people took von Newmann seriously when he said he did it to ensure that it remained in the public domain and not used for commercial purposes. Apparently, Goldstine felt von Newmann was a better meal ticket than one from Pres and John. He was wrong. Pres and John went on to develop BINAC, the first stored program computer. Yes, it ran for 48 hours without an error in March 1949. Reported in the Franklin Institute newsletter. Then, they went on to build the first electronic commercial computer. As far as I know, nobody, other than the organizations von Newmann consulted with, ever built the Johnniac while the computer industry switched with UNIVAC to the commercial world.
I could continue on, but I know I am unfair to expect you to buck the tide. However, I am now 77 years old and I feel that someone should tell the truth, and if not me, who?
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 30, 2014 8:26 PM PDT


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