When Computers Were Human #2020

When Computers Were Human David Alan Grier 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 kn

  • Title: When Computers Were Human
  • Author: David Alan Grier
  • ISBN: 9780691133829
  • Page: 248
  • Format: Paperback
  • When Computers Were Human David Alan Grier 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 litBefore 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.
    When Computers Were Human David Alan Grier

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      David Alan Grier

    One thought on “When Computers Were Human”

    1. There has been a lot of interest recently in the history of computing before the advent of digital computers, and particularly the role that women played as computers a job title in the first half of the twentieth century The book and Movie, Hidden Figures, described a group of black women who worked as computers at the NACA and later NASA laboratory at Langley VA Rise of the Rocket Girls gave an oral history of women computers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena Grier s book is conside [...]

    2. The first electronic digital computers were made in the early 1940s, and dozens were built in the late 1940s and the early 1950s How was computing done before that The French Revolution introduced not only a new calendar and a new system of weights and measures, but also division of the right angle into 100 grades instead of 90 degrees New trigonometric tables needed to be prepared for surveyors, who might lose their revolutionary fervor if they had to convert grades to degrees and use the anci [...]

    3. Remember the team sport of complex calculations Usually, the word computer generates images of a powerful, programmable machine that can perform almost any task However, a computer was originally a person who performed complex math Some human computers were scientists who did advanced calculations, but most were workers who labored over the same types of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing hour after hour, day after day Scientist David Alan Grier weaves a wonderful story of the history [...]

    4. I once looked up computer in a 1937 dictionary and read one who computes This book is a nice, if dry, history about those who computed in the days before digital took over.onomy, navigation, ballistics, weather, censuse math tables are mind boggling, and I used many Chemical Rubber Company anyone I had a little nostalgia in the last chapterGrier talked about two mainframes that marked the definite end to human computing the IBM 360 and UNIVAC 1108 both of which I wrote assembly language code for [...]

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