Tag: computer histories

How influential was Alan Turing? The tangled invention of computing (and its historiography)

Alan Turing was involved in some of the most important developments of the twentieth century: he invented the abstraction now called the Universal Turing Machine that every undergraduate computer science major learns in college; he was involved in the great British Enigma code-breaking effort that deserves at least some credit for the Allied victory in World War II, and last, but not the least, while working on building early digital computers post-Enigma, he described -- in a fascinating philosophical paper that continues to puzzle and excite to this day -- the thing we now call the Turing Test for artificial intelligence. His career was ultimately cut short, however, after he was convicted in Britain of "gross indecency" (in effect for being gay), and two years later was found dead in an apparent suicide. The celebrations of Turing's birth centenary began three years ago in 2012. As a result, far, far more people (more...)

A Byte of the Apple: A Review of the Film “Jobs” (2013)

Every few years, my husband makes the suggestion (threat?) to turn my original 1984 Macintosh into a techno-aquarium. Yes, one with real fish swimming in it. At one time it was the cool thing to do. My response is always to staunchly scream, “No way!” And my Macintosh travels with us every time we move. It seems to me that the recent film Jobs (2013) had the opportunity to explore why it is that many of us who lived in Silicon Valley at the time might feel, not just techno-nostalgia for a device, but also excitement to have participated in a significant technological sea change. Sadly, the film never really provides insight about these emotions; instead it falls back on pathetic clichés. For instance, when the Jobs character (this is not a documentary) is speaking to a future designer of the iPod, the designer says that people view the world (more...)