Sample Chapter Added

I’ve now added a sample chapter from the book in PDF format which can be accessed by clicking on the Download button on the ‘Sample Chapter’ page. I chose Chapter 1 (Computer Prehistory – Calculating Machines) as, unlike later chapters, it doesn’t rely on other chapters to set the scene and can be read as a standalone work.

As the title suggests, this chapter covers the earliest efforts to mechanise calculation, from the calculating aids of John Napier through the mechanical calculators of Schickard, Pascal and Leibniz to the incredible engines of Charles Babbage.  To put these into context and provide a more rounded picture, it also covers the advances in engineering technology or ‘building blocks’ which facilitated the development of such machines.

Like many good stories, there are also elements of mystery. These include the discovery of a mysterious object in an ancient shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900, which changed our perception of mechanical technology in the ancient world, and the role of the great Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, who may or may not have been responsible for the first design for a calculating machine.

Feedback would be much appreciated but please note that the text has not yet benefited from the attention of a professional editor so don’t be too surprised if you spot the occasional typo or grammatical howler.


A New Web Site

I’ve done it. I’ve finally created a web site and blog to tell the world what I’ve been spending all my spare time working on for the past 10 years. My thanks to Dr Scott Sherwood who provided the motivational push to get me started and also recommended using WordPress to create and maintain the site. It’s been a number of years since I was involved in web site development and the technology would appear to have improved immensely! It’s early days but the only problems encountered so far have all been caused by using Internet Explorer 8 rather than one of the newer browsers. These problems were easily fixed by installing the latest version of Mozilla Firefox.

My next task will be to provide a sample chapter of the book which can be freely downloaded from the site.  I’ll also add some appropriate images to make the site look less boring.