Calculation and Computation in the Pre-electronic Era
This book offers an introduction to the history of computing during the ‘first’ (steam) and the ‘second’ (electricity) industrial revolution. It starts with the origins of the industrial revolution and stops at the emergence of electronic computing, which for many historians signifies the end of the industrial society and the beginning of a post-industrial society. It is popularly assumed that the history of computing before the second half of the twentieth century is unimportant. The general argument of the book is that computing has been of primary importance since the late nineteenth century and through the first half of the twentieth century. The book shows that the industrial revolution was made possible by a parallel revolution in computing technology. As indicated by the transition from isolated factory steam engines to vast networks of interconnected electric power lines, the industrial revolution was actually a permanent technological revolution. The book suggests that it was sustained by a perpetual revolution in computing technology. The history of this perpetual computing revolution helps us to understand that electronic era computing continued on what this permanent computing revolution had accumulated during the mechanical and the electrical age. What followed after the 1940s capitalized on what had started in the 1780s. In this sense, the book offers a history of computing during the mechanical and the electrical age that helps us to contextualize the history of electronic computing.
Offers an introduction to the history of computing during the ‘first’ (of steam) and the ‘second’ (of electricity) industrial revolutionSuggests that the computing revolution and the industrial revolution were the same, with the one making the other possible and vice versaProposes that analog and digital computing technology is inseparable, with their alleged difference actually resulting from either full or restricted view of the computing process