Summary of A History of Modern Computing

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A History of Modern Computing book summary
That shiny computer on your desk is the newest child in a family lineage of computing machines going back to 1945. Plunge into this history to meet its grandpa (the UNIVAC) and grandma (the 1975, $400 Altair Personal Computer kit).


7 Overall

5 Applicability

8 Innovation

9 Style


Paul E. Ceruzzi, curator of the National Air and Space Museum, describes the development of computing, starting with its earliest history. He examines the beginnings of commercial computing from 1945 to 1956 and traces the history of computer hardware and software, dividing these developments into five- to 10-year time periods. His book emphasizes technical development, rather than personalities or business dynamics, a focus that contributes to its fairly dry, academic style. With this caveat, getAbstract recommends the book primarily to those with a technological bent, such as professionals in operations and computer sciences, and academics in the field. However, if you are interested in the subject, you’ll love this. Ceruzzi provides an informative and comprehensive saga including extensive footnotes and a bibliography that runs about 80 pages.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the strong US economy after World War II spurred the development of the computer
  • How it developed from an “electronic data processing machine” to a PC


1945-1956: The Birth of Computing
Before 1945, the word “computer” referred to a person who solved equations on an electronic digital computer, which was invented for that purpose. The term only began to refer to the machinery itself around 1945. At that point, the development of the computer...
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About the Author

Paul E. Ceruzzi is curator at the National Air and Space Museum and the Department of Space History. He is the author of Beyond the Limits: Flight Enters the Computer Age.

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