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on 17 February 2016
I've read this book in my final year of Electronic Engineering degree, so I was already familiarized with all the concepts but the perspective that this book gives to the subject is so unique. I wish my course was taught in this way, I would understand it much better and faster. Even though I knew about all the content I still gained so much because I never thought about it this way. Is an amazing book and I couldn't put it down after I started. Plus the paper on this book is so amazing, don't buy the Kindle edition, only paperback.
7 people found this helpful
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on 25 April 2017
Perhaps needs a new edition to ensure that younger readers connect properly with some of the analogies and examples but if you are happy to recall the heady year of 1999 when CDs were still state of the art then the solid, paced core of the book will delight anyone who wonders just how computers actually work. Just how do a bunch of electronic switches (albeit miniaturized and presented in their countless thousands on a single chip) get organised in such a way that they can load and execute programs? The answers are beautifully presented here at a level of detail that will satisfy the most demanding reader.
3 people found this helpful
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on 30 October 2016
I'm a SW engineer going through electrical engineering schools - so this book is very close to how I look at things. Sure, today's PCs are way too complex, but in the end it all boils down to those logical gates made of... you guessed it... relays! Ok, not relays nowadays, but Charles Petzold demonstrates that you not only have to have a technology (available in 1850 already) but also thinking must advance sufficiently. Fun book to read, going back to the days of my youth and repeat some of the basics how this computer world is spinning around. Final chapters are fast forward to current days (or 2000 to be precise) but work fine as some kind of wrap-up for this nice (and otherwise low-level) book. Diagrams are clear and the teacher is superb.
One person found this helpful
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on 7 April 2018
I cannot recommend this book enough. DO NOT BUY the kindle version, buy the paperback it is EXCELLENT. It starts off very nicely with Morse Code and very clearly and understandably explains the principles of what defines a code and how Morse code and binary works in a very interesting way. It's not a boring read at all, I really enjoy reading this book no nonsense, everything is nicely conveying the important aspects. Beautiful and very rich diagrams conveying the concepts very nicely. I absolutely love this book. It starts right from basics if you've never studied code before or like me want to understand how computers and it's programs work. This book explains the fundamental concepts to enable you to understand computer hardware and software. The paperback is worth every single penny thank you.
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on 1 October 2015
One of the most interesting books I have read in a long time. It starts by explaining morse code and braille, number systems, bits, barcodes, electric circuits, relays, logic gates etc etc. I've read as far as logic gates and have loved every page. I have especially loved reading about a new discovery and then seeing how it was built on, developed, and adapted in the journey to build the computer and computer software. The book brilliantly allows the reader to understand all of these steps with great diagrams and examples to help understand. It introduces the people, the places, the how's and why's. Anyone with an interest in technology and computing should read this book. It is a historical reference and technical manual. Brilliant!!!!
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on 25 April 2015
This is an exceptional book. Petzold's writing style and passion, combined with his intelligence and ambition to create a truly profound work, make this one of the finest books I have ever come across. I bought this looking for a greater understanding of programming concepts with the hope that I would better understand the internal processes of computers. What I actually received was a logical and scientific explanation of why computers are the way they are based on the human need to communicate using codes.

As an example of this book's greatness, it introduces the concept of binary mathematics through simple, intuitive examples (e.g. trying to communicate with someone in the dark using a torch). By the end of the first chapter you feel as though you understand the base-2 system—not as some kind of arbitrary standard chosen by figures from the past, but because of the immense power available from just two states (on/off, etc.). Petzold explains the logic behind Morse code and Braille, before one of the best introductions to basic physics I have ever read.

The greatest pleasure of this book, I think, is that after each chapter you never know whether you're going to learn about hardware or software—and that leads to the kind of excitement that can only be generated by a truly wonderful teacher. It is no exaggeration to say that this book is a masterpiece, and you should pick it up whether you're interested in understanding the inner workings of the technology inside the tools you use every day, or whether you want to continue your scientific education.
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on 8 May 2017
I would say this is very detailed and so useful for a good reference but definitely not something you would pick up and read - it is not what I thought.I wanted a book to learn from but I think you need to already know it to use this book and then use this to reinforce/further explain. NOT a beginners book.
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on 18 July 2017
Want a run down on the development of computers and an easy understanding of how they work? Get this! (It's all 0's and 1's and our ability to store vast quantities of them in small spaces). Really easy and absorbing read.
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on 13 December 2016
This book builds up an understanding of what is actually happening behind the scenes when you use a computer.
The first third or so explains the concepts of information, data representation, number systems, communication, Boolan logic, and logic gates.
The next third uses this foundation to describe and explain how differetn chipsets operate, inputs/outputs, and how operations such as arithmetic, looping, and memory allocation are conducted. This section can get a little dry in places, which is my only negative thing to say about this book.
The final section explains how programming langauges work, starting from Assembler, through to C, and on to thier high level languages. It also discusses things such as ASCII, graphics, OOP, buses and user space.
As an electronic and software engineer, I thought this book would just be light reading, but it was actually very informative and more useful than a lot of textbooks I have read. I highly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in how hardware or software operate, or even anyone who has always assumed that computing is too complicated to understand. This book will prove you wrong!
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on 26 November 2016
I bought this book to give me an insight into the world of programming and computing.
The author starts off at a very basic conceptual level and is very very informative, which helps you get a feel for some of the key concepts in computer programming.
As you gain more and more knowledge through the course of the book the level of detail also increases to match your learning.
I highly recommend this book and I am now training to be a software developer.
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