I rarely shamelessly plug my book, but two events in the last week mean that there has never been a better time to buy your own copy or to buy one as a gift. First, Amazon has discounted its price down to a remarkable $3.96 (that's $10 cheaper than the Kindle edition). If you're an Amazon Prime subscriber you'll get free shipping on that! Second, Library Picks Reviews, an Amazon Top 500 Reviewer, has just given The Universal Machine a wonderful 5 star review. I'm going to quote their review in full.
Passes the Zuse Test... June 10, 2013
Any book on computing history that misses Zuse-- the 1938 inventor of Tron, the Matrix, The 13th Floor, Avatar... and many other world views that posit the universe running inside a big computer-- hasn't done it's homework.
Although the two page (80-82) summary on Zuse isn't long, it is accurate and detailed. I mean, who else would try to build a 30,000 part computer in a barn in Nazi occupied Germany? Not many figured out the genius of this man, from computing to cellular automata, but Siemens obviously did (they bought him out before he passed on in 1995).
Does anyone know how this fine book can be under $5 with free Prime shipping at nearly 400 packed pages? I know, I've got to be dreaming -- somebody unplug the link.
Wow, even at text prices it's worth it, here, it's a steal! It is "Dover" priced yet contains CURRENT information-- the "history" goes back to the Middle Ages, but brings us right up to everything from dedicated embedded to universal multis and beyond. NOT a dry read-- fun, carries the reader along, and if you've got a few years behind you as I do, will elicit a smile at where we've been as well as where we're going. After all, there really was no web in 1985, so many people alive today saw nearly the entire evolution of the modern computer age!
In that context, it's great to see the "seeds" going way back, as well as Tron and the Matrix. Zuse's first machine was perfect and correct, but didn't work because the milling and machining sciences were not developed enough for the precision required. (We know this because it WAS later built just to see, and worked!). Like the guy who wrote "I, Pencil" (no, not robot) to show that it takes thousands of brilliant technologies to make a pencil, we take a LOT for granted in what we see today in computing. This awesome book adds back the wonder.
Highly recommended even as a plane trip or late night substitute for your favorite novelist. Some of the info really is eye opening, as in, "Did you know that..." with your friends on Facebook.
Library Picks reviews only for the benefit of Amazon shoppers and has nothing to do with Amazon, the authors, manufacturers or publishers of the items we review. We always buy the items we review for the sake of objectivity, and although we search for gems, are not shy about trashing an item if it's a waste of time or money for Amazon shoppers. If the reviewer identifies herself, her job or her field, it is only as a point of reference to help you gauge the background and any biases.