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The Dream Machine is truly the best book on the history of computing. The story dives deep into the trials and tribulations faced by the many creators of the technology that runs life in the 21st century — starting at the very beginning of the journey in the early 1800s. You’ll learn about the key players from the universities, government, and corporations who all worked together to bring computing to life.
The book is definitely dense. The author didn’t seem to skip a beat with all of the fine details that range from points within conversations to pivotal moments that formed how the world works. That means the book isn’t for everyone; I’ve gifted it to a few people who never got all the way through. But it’s a joy to those who want the full picture of how computing was invented (me).
This is within my top five books that I’ve ever read — the stories are phenomenal and I feel like I actually understand the full history of computers. And I can’t forget to mention the beauty of the iridescent cover. This book stands out on your shelf!
This book was especially interesting to me since I knew Licklider from his days in the MIT Acoustic Lab in the early fifties where I did my graduate work. The book accurately portrays Lick as a brilliant person with a deep commitment to working with others to develop their careers and his goals for a world where computers and people work together seamlessly. Much of the book deals with the brilliant computer scientists Lick supported thru ARPA grants, and their work leading to the Arpanet which evolved into the Internet and the personal computer. The story of the Xerox PARC research lab helped me understand how so much great research could come to benefit everyone but the company that funded it. A fine well deserved tribute to Licklider, and a great book for anyone interested in the people and projects leading to the Internet and the personal computer.
Though the hardcover version has some problems, such as very rare typos and a rather small font size, the book itself is fantastic, and I am very grateful to Stripe press for putting out a new edition. It is fascinating to read about the inception of technologies we are taking for granted nowadays, and what was required to make them happen. “The Dream Machine” gave me a charge of optimism and hope by showing what people could achieve. Though at the same time it is a sad book, for reading it made me see how slow the real progress in IT was since the 70s. Essential read for anyone interested in modern technologies or wishing to create something world-changing.
The book evolves around the life and work of J.C.R Licklider an American psychologist turned computer scientist and pioneer who in the early 1960 envisioned and helped become the reality computers and Internet as we know then today. Book covers entire Lick's life and history of computing from inception in 20's until late 90's. This book makes me want to know more about the history. Huge thanks to the author for great read.
I'm biased, since I played a role in helping this edition come about, but I played a role for a reason. For such an importance force, there's surprisingly little cultural understanding of how the internet came to be, and of the kind of thinking and philosophy that underpinned it. It turns out that the story is quite remarkable. The Dream Machine is a meticulously-researched investigation that captures both the institutional dynamics and personal aspirations that led to personal computers and the internet. Waldrop digs deep (acoustics, cybernetics, information theory, Radar), and the result is a work that properly situates Licklider's work in its relevant context. I unreservedly recommend it to anyone who cares about the technology industry.
Brilliant find by Stripe press and a great print for book lovers. The book has a great cover and is a well-made hard bound edition you will cherish.
The book clearly made an imprint on the founders of Stripe and it will make an imprint on you. It adds context to the work of Claude Shannon, Alan Turing, the exiled intellectuals of WWII, and the major milestones of the Nuclear Bomb, the Internet, and computer Science.
A fascinating read by a forgotten author who is a cross between Walter Isaacson and Ron Chernow.
I've waded through a lot of these books, Dealers in Lightning, The Soul of a new Machine; this one required a lot of wading. Thoroughly engaging with lots of interesting characters, there's a lot of history here. 4 stars, but approach with the understanding that's it's a complicated book about a complicated topic.
The story of how computers and networks moved from the realm of machine controllers and number crunchers is complex and enthralling. Lick's story is a critical part of that, and this book does a great job of walking us through his life and his contributions.
Strongly reccommend this book if you work in or around the technology industry. Programmer, designer, marketer— it doesn’t matter— you will benefit greatly from understanding the history of personal computing and the internet.