Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing before Cybernetics (Johns Hopkins Studies in the History of Technology) Illustrated Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 ratings
ISBN-13: 978-0801868955
ISBN-10: 0801868955
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Editorial Reviews

Review

[Mindell's] account of this complex story of engineering, people, and organizations―academic, industrial and govenment―is well researched and well told.

-- Stuart Bennett ― International Journal of Adaptive Control and Signal Processing

While one might think a history of servomechanisms, feedback loops, and fire control systems would be of interest only to a narrow audience, one of David A. Mindell's great achievements in this rich and multilayered book is to show the centrality of control systems―the machines (and humans) that control machines―to the history of computing, the history of technology, and indeed to American history in the twentieth century.

-- Ross Bassett ― American Historical Review

In contextualizing the theory of cybernetics, Mindell gives engineering back forgotten parts of its history, and shows how important historical circumstances are to technological change . . . Mindell is scrupulous about providing this historical context; providing biographical insight into the major players in the history; and giving the reader a good sense of what it was like to be a Bell Labs scientist, or an engineer for Sperry.

-- Michele Tepper ― Networker

The book is an eye-opener in understanding who our engineering ancestors were and what they did.

-- David L. Elliott ― IEEE Control Systems Magazine

In an exceptionally insightful and lucid account, Mindell shows how engineering cultures emerging in specific institutional contexts profoundly shaped the design of human–machine systems and defined the human operator as part of a larger technological system.

-- Slava Gerovitch ― IEEE Annals of the History of Computing

This is a good and surprising book. It is good in its articulate survey of dynamic man-machine systems in the period from 1916 to 1948; it is surprising in its convincing revision of our picture of the origins of the computer and cybernetics.

-- Larry Owens ― Technology and Culture

The reader who makes the effort to follow Mindell's argument will be rewarded with a fresh insight into the emergence of the digital computer and all that its invention implies.

-- Paul E. Ceruzzi ― Journal of American History

This book is the first major study by a professional historian and as such should help to draw the attention of historians to the embeddedness of feedback control in 20th century technological systems.

-- Stuart Bennett ― International Journal of Adaptive Control and Signal Processing

A joy for both engineers and historians . . . Mindell's major contribution is to explore in abundant and fascinating detail the intellectual and physical roots of cybernetics in fields as distinct as communications engineering, military fire control, and analog computing.

-- Karl D. Stephan ― IEEE Technology and Society Magazine

A rare historian who insightfully understands both the creators of technology and the technology they create, David Mindell engagingly tells a story of technological change in an organizational context. In Between Human and Machine, he provides a revealing account of a search for controls in a twentieth-century world of complex systems.

-- Thomas P. Hughes, author of Rescuing Prometheus and American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-1970

This is a terrific book, well written and distinguished for its solid scholarship, technical expertise, and historical sophistication.

-- Michael S. Mahoney, Princeton University

David Mindell's Between Human and Machine successfully takes on the daunting task of exploring the machines behind the cybernetic decades of mid-century. It is a book of range and depth, moving from the sophisticated new weapons systems of World War II to the technologies, including the computer, that so marked the postwar era. By digging deep into the machines themselves, into the problems of feedback and stability―but also into management and political context―Mindell brings us a real sense of this transformative moment in the history of technical culture. The implications of this alteration in the concept of a machine will be with us for a long time to come, and this book is a first-rate place to understand its origins.

-- Peter L. Galison, Harvard University

Mindell's authoritative mastery of the disparate technologies he traces will secure this book an influential place in the historiography of science and technology in World War II.

-- Alex Roland, Duke University

Masterful! Between Human and Machine is an insightful and highly readable account of the people and the ideas that paved the way for modern computing.

-- M. Mitchell Waldrop, author of Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution that Made Computing Personal

Engineering education, research and practice of the past half century was deeply influenced by the systems built during World War Il. In this perceptive book, David Mindell shows that systems built during the decades before the war and the concepts underlying them played a key role in the success of the war effort.

-- Joel Moses, Institute Professor and Professor of Engineering Systems and Computer Science, MIT

From the Publisher

"A rare historian who insightfully understands both the creators of technology and the technology they create, David Mindell engagingly tells a story of technological change in an organizational context. In Between Human and Machine, he provides a revealing account of a search for controls in a 20th century world of complex systems."—Thomas P. Hughes, author of Rescuing Prometheus and American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-1970

"Mindell's authoritative mastery of the disparate technologies he traces will secure this book an influential place in the historiography of science and technology in World War II."—Alex Roland, Duke University


Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Johns Hopkins University Press; Illustrated edition (October 11, 2002)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 456 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0801868955
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0801868955
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.45 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 7 x 1.37 x 10 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 7 ratings

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
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