When Computers Were Human
Before Palm Pilots and iPods, PCs and laptops, the term "computer" referred to the people who did scientific calculations by hand. These workers were neither calculating geniuses nor idiot savants but knowledgeable people who, in other circumstances, might have become scientists in their own right. When Computers Were Human represents the first in-depth account of this little-known, 200-year epoch in the history of science and technology.
Beginning with the story of his own grandmother, who was trained as a human computer, David Alan Grier provides a poignant introduction to the wider world of women and men who did the hard computational labor of science. His grandmother's casual remark, "I wish I'd used my calculus," hinted at a career deferred and an education forgotten, a secret life unappreciated; like many highly educated women of her generation, she studied to become a human computer because nothing else would offer her a place in the scientific world.
The book begins with the return of Halley's comet in 1758 and the effort of three French astronomers to compute its orbit. It ends four cycles later, with a UNIVAC electronic computer projecting the 1986 orbit. In between, Grier tells us about the surveyors of the French Revolution, describes the calculating machines of Charles Babbage, and guides the reader through the Great Depression to marvel at the giant computing room of the Works Progress Administration.
When Computers Were Human is the sad but lyrical story of workers who gladly did the hard labor of research calculation in the hope that they might be part of the scientific community. In the end, they were rewarded by a new electronic machine that took the place and the name of those who were, once, the computers.
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When computers were humanUser Review - Book Verdict
Before mainframe and personal computing, scientific computation was accomplished by human beings recruited as "computers." These human calculators were neither mathematicians nor calculating geniuses; some might have become scientists had they not been excluded from making that career choice by their social class, gender, or ethnicity. Grier (international affairs, George Washington Univ.) begins with the story of his own grandmother who had been a human computer. From her thread, he builds a comprehensive history of the human computer starting with the efforts of three 18th-century French astronomers to calculate the orbit of Halley's Comet. Readers also learn about the human computing factories of the 19th century, the use of human computers into the 20th century, and the rise of electronic computing and a UNIVAC computer that finally calculated Halley's 1986 projected orbit in 1977. As the book reads like a lengthy dissertation on a narrow subject, this is recommended for an informed audience.--Joe Accardi, Harper Coll. Lib., Palatine, IL
Review: When Computers Were HumanUser Review - Ilya - Goodreads
The first electronic digital computers were made in the early 1940s, and dozens more were built in the late 1940s and the early 1950s. How was computing done before that? The French Revolution ... Read full review
Sample Chapter for Grier, da: When Computers Were Human.
Sample Chapter for When Computers Were Human by Grier, DA, published by Princeton University Press.
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When Computers Were Human -- David Alan Grier
When Computers Were Human represents the first in-depth account of this little-known, 200-year epoch in the history of science and technology. ...
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Alison Adam - When Computers Were Human (review) - Technology and ...
When Computers Were Human. By David Alan Grier. Princeton, nj: Princeton University Press, 2005. Pp. 411. $35. We take for granted the easy computational ...
muse.jhu.edu/ journals/ technology_and_culture/ v047/ 47.4adam.html
When Computers Were Human
When Computers Were Human is weak in several areas. First, Grier glosses over technical aspects of human computing. What were the algorithms that these ...
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[June 6, 2007]What did it mean to be a human computer? Who were the first ones? Before Palm Pilots and ipods, pcs and laptops, the term "computer" referred ...
millionmindsproject.com - Videos - When Computers Were Human
In his book When Computers Were Human, David Alan Grier, editor of IEEE Annals of History of Computing, offers the first in-depth account of these workers, ...
millionmindsproject.com/ video/ exview/ 2a12c716c6b3f5373afafb5a163d6ea4
When Computers Were Human - AOL Video
What did it mean to be a human computer? Who were the first ones? Before Palm Pilots and ipods, pcs and laptops, the term computer
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Recovered history : Nature
BOOK REVIEWED - When Computers Were Human. by David Alan Grier. Princeton University Press: 2005. 412 pp. $35, £22.95. We work from morn till night, ...
www.nature.com/ nature/ journal/ v434/ n7037/ full/ 4341070a.html
When Computers Were Human (Princeton University Press 2005). When Computers Were Human (Princeton University Press 2005) is a sad but lyrical story of ...
www2.gwu.edu/ ~elliott/ faculty/ books05.html
Automating Invention: History of Computing Archives
Book: When Computers Were Human. The following is from the publisher's web page ... When Computers Were Human represents the first in-depth account of this ...
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