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Customer Review

on 15 May 2012
Unlike other reviewers, I was not worried by the fact that this book is not another rehash of the same source material about Alan Turing. Setting his famous paper in some, maybe not the entire, context of the time was illuminating.

I skimmed sections that seemed dense in technical details of valves and command lines, but the stories of wives and women working on computer hardware and programmes, plus the vibrant "work hard, play hard" atmosphere in the various campus-type living arrangements were fascinating. Klari von Neumann's narrative was one of the most engaging for me. I also quite like stories of how institutions are shaped, so I wasn't put off by this strand.

A stand out comment related to the power of computer processing keeping men honest, because we've all seen how powerful computer models can be created and used dishonestly.

The Manchester University Small Scale Experimental Machine or Baby was repeatedly referred to in the same breath as Colossus and thus was a bit confusing. For instance "the core of the computing group from Bletchley Park were continuing from where their work on Colossus had left off". I (unlike the author who counts Max Newman as the core) imagine that the core of the computing group were the ones who actually designed and built the machine; Williams, Kilburn and Tootill who had all been based at the Telecommunications Research Establishment in Malvern. It isn't the most straightforward of family trees, but these vague references don't help to give people their proper credits or to understand why things came about in the way they did.

Kindle-wise, quite a few of the photos at the end seemed to have become separated from their captions on the following page which is a bit annoying, but I don't remember any particularly awful lay out issues.
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