Go To: The Story of the Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Maverick Scientists, and Iconoclasts-- the Programmers Who Created the Software Revolution
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In Go To, Steve Lohr chronicles the history of software from the early days of complex mathematical codes mastered by a few thousand to today's era of user-friendly software and over six million professional programmers worldwide. Lohr maps out the unique seductions of programming, and gives us an intimate portrait of the peculiar kind of genius that is drawn to this blend of art, science, and engineering, introducing us to the movers and shakers of the 1950s and the open-source movement of today. With original reporting and deft storytelling, Steve Lohr shows us how software transformed the world, and what it holds in store for our future.
ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, who wrote a treatise on algebraic methods. Yet it was not until World War II that electronics had advanced to the point that building useful computers became a real possibility. In those early days, programming was an afterthought. It was considered more a technician’s chore, usually referred to as “setting up” or “coding” the machine. The glamour was all in the hardware – that was deemed real science and engineering. The ENIAC, for Electronic Numerical Integrator and
not have happened without that lineage back to Project MAC, without people getting hooked on that kind of collaborative computing.” The story of Unix shows, once again, the yin–yang relationship between software and hardware, so different yet so interdependent. Software breakthroughs have generally come at the stress points – when hardware advances open the door to new possibilities, or when a leap of innovation is needed to overcome a frustrating hardware hurdle. Unix would be an example of the
Electronics magazine. Bob Albrecht saw its potential as an affordable, general-purpose computer, based on the Intel 8080 microprocessor. Yet it was just dead circuitry, without software to bring it to life to do useful or fun things. Albrecht prodded Allison to develop a shrunken version of BASIC so children might be able to use the Altair and other microcomputers that were just beginning to appear. Allison went to work, and his early efforts were published in the PCC newsletter and a sister
screen play or the Great American Novel, is these days most likely staring at a computer screen with his or her aspiring masterpiece rendered in Word – Simonyi’s creation. Simonyi was leafing gleefully through stacks of recently acquired recreational reading. They were copies of the operations and countdown manuals for America’s Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space missions, some of them signed by the astronauts. “This isn’t a curiosity for me,” he explained. “I want to read them.” Simonyi’s home
fruits of earlier research, including icons, windows, and the mouse. But the thing, according to Kay, that brought it all together, that “consolidated these ideas into a powerful theory and long-lived examples” was that his team focused on children. “Early on,” he said, “this led to a 90 degree rotation of the purpose of the user interface from ‘access to functionality’ to ‘environment in which users learn by doing.’” Kay, the visionary, was surrounded by imaginative implementers. He had