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Go To: The Story of the Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Maverick Scientists, and Ico Kindle Edition
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"...a clear, understandable introduction... An excellent primer for anyone curious about the insides of a PC..." -- New York Times Book Review, 11/4/01
"BASIC was an open city, Shanghai a hundred years ago. There were no laws." -- Alan Cooper, the "father" of Visual Basic
"Go To is an enlightening read and does a fine job of demonstrating the power of imagination." -- Boston Globe, 12/30/01
"Lohr has done his journalistic legwork here... it's not so much a book about programming as a book about programmers." -- Dr. Dobb's Journal, 2/1/02
"That book I just read--was completely fascinating! Surprising, yes, but that is precisely my reaction to Go To." -- devX, 1/7/02
"They took anyone who seemed to have an aptitude for problem-solving skills-bridge players, chess players, even women." -- Lois Haibt, a member of IBM's original Fortran team --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
IBM conducted yearly employee reviews called the "Performance Improvement Program," or Pip, for short. The Pip, like most such programs today, followed a rigid formula, with numbers and rankings. [John] Backus decided the Pip system was ill-suited for measuring the performance of his programmers, so his approach was to mostly ignore it. One afternoon, for example, he called Lois Haibt over for a chat. He talked about her work, said she had been doing an excellent job and then pushed a small piece of paper across the desk saying, "This is your new salary," a pleasing raise, as Haibt recalled. As she got up to leave, Backus mentioned in passing, "In case anyone should ask, this was your Pip."
Since he starts early in the history of the field, Lohr gets to share some of the oddities of the days before programming was professionalized. Developers were kids, musicians, game experts, and practically anyone who showed an interest. Many readers will be surprised and delighted to read of the strong recruitment of women and their many contributions to software development--an aspect of geek history that has long been neglected. Go To should break down a few preconceptions while building up a new respect for the coders who guided us into the 21st century. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B009ZOKVVA
- Publisher : Basic Books; Revised ed. edition (November 5, 2008)
- Publication date : November 5, 2008
- Language : English
- File size : 687 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 268 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,742,030 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This is a "people" book. Brief biographical sketches of the key players are followed by a description of the most basic characteristics of each software item and a brief chronology of its emergence into the marketplace. There is little in the way of analysis and little personal opinion.
The book reads like a long Britannica article and is a suitable overview and reference for serious students of technology but more than a little boring for the general reader.
I was surprised that Gary Kildall only received half of one sentence. His Digital Research Company and its early microcomputer operating system, CP/M, was an early business success. A variant of CP/M, Seattle Computer Products 86-DOS, was the backbone of Gates' DOS for the IBM PC.
I found the writing to be good and funny, making it an enjoyable read. Quotes are used very well and the information that each page is full of is well layed out on the length of the book. The author stays objective and doesn't impose you his opinion as some of the more "controversial" topics are often revisited from different perspectives, giving you the chance to make your own mind.
An enjoyable and instructive book.
The author supports his thesis very effectively, describing an oral history of all major software breakthroughs in the last 60 years, from Fortran to Apache. In each case, a game-changing language or application was spearheaded by an extraordinary programmer. In many situations, other engineers did indeed contribute to the project, but without the instigator, the project may never have come to exist.
The author describes the origins of more than a dozen languages and applications, each a major achievement that enabled further progress. He tells how John Backus spearheaded Fortran, how Ken Thompson single-handedly created Unix, how Charles Simonyi developed Word, and how James Gosling invented Java. The only significant software innovation missing is email.
It was surprising to discover that most of the breakthrough software developed in the last half-century consists of languages and tools rather than applications. Instead of focusing their efforts on developing commercial software products, these exceptional engineers built tools to simplify the process of computer programming and make its practice accessible to more people.
Schoolchildren used to learn the history and colorful stories behind inventors and momentous inventions, e.g. Thomas Alva Edison and his light bulb, Henry Ford and his automobile assembly line, Alexander Graham Bell and his telephone. By and large, modern technological achievements are ignored in schools today - they are perceived as being realized incrementally, by numbers of faceless people, each building on top of their predecessor's accomplishment. Go To disproves that perception; extremely talented individuals have always been the driving force behind software breakthroughs.
This book is easy to read - it is well-organized and the writing is fluid and clear. I highly recommend Go To to anyone interested in the history of computer programming or the history of technology in general. Be prepared to enjoy some entertaining and educational stories about determined, gifted inventors who would no doubt make Edison proud.