The Before Times
We have been clambering onto the shoulders of giants for so long that it's easy to forget how high we really are.
Here are some great books to read if you're interested in the history of computing. They're in rough chronological order but feel free to jump in wherever.
- The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography, Simon Singh - An excellent and accessible read about the beginnings of cryptography.
- Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History, Thomas Rid - The ongoing dance between humans and computers, starting with a need to more accurately shoot down planes in WW2.
- Where the Wizards Stay Up Late, Katie Hafner - The birth of the ARPANET, which became the internet we know, love, and loathe today.
- Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age, Michael Hiltzik - The GUI, the mouse, word processors, and laser printers. And one massive lost opportunity.
- UNIX: A Memoir, Brian Kernighan - How UNIX came to be. It's incredible how much of it is still not only relevant, but highly applicable today.
- Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality, Jaron Lanier - The beginnings of VR.
- The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage, Clifford Stoll - What may well be the very first incident response engagement, ever, beginning in 1989 with a $0.75 accounting error.
- Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture, David Kushner - The beginnings of the legendary id software, inventors of the FPS genre.
- Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon, Kim Zetter - The grandaddy of cyberattacks, Stuxnet.
These aren't directly related to computing, but have become entangled over time and are well worth a read, regardless.
- Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare, Thomas Rid - The dawn of disinformation. While not strictly
- The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads, Tim Wu - Advertising is a sad reality of modern tech. This book covers how we got here.