[TUHS] Book Recommendation

Douglas McIlroy douglas.mcilroy at dartmouth.edu
Tue Nov 16 13:16:41 AEST 2021

While waiting to see the full text, I've poked around the index for
subjects of interest. It certainly is copious, and knows about a lot
of things that I don't.

The authors make a reasonable choice in identifying the dawn of
"modern computing" with Eniac and relegating non-electronic machines
to prehistory. Still, I was glad to find the prophetic Konrad Zuse
mentioned, but disappointed not to find the Bell Labs pioneer, George

Among programming languages, Fortran, which changed the nature of
programming, is merely hinted at (buried in the forgettable Fortran
Monitoring System), while its insignificant offspring PL/I is present.
(Possibly this is an indexing oversight. John Backus, who led the
Fortran project, is mentioned quite early in the book.) Algol, Lisp,
Simula and Smalltalk quite properly make the list, but Basic rates
more coverage than any of them. C, obscurely alphabetized as "C
language", is treated generously, as is Unix in general.

Surprisingly there's almost nothing in the index about security or
privacy. The litany of whiggish chapters about various uses of
computers needs a cautionary complement. "The computer attracts crooks
and spies" would be a stylistically consistent title.


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