Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Out of Their Minds

An interesting book, and is giving me a nice, but non-technical introduction to some of the history of computer science. The book basically consists of interviews with the fathers of key programming languages, theories, and algorithms. While the book is not nearly as exciting as something fictional that I could be reading, or as entertaining as Joel on Software was, I am learning about the roots of my profession. That must be important for something right? Didn’t someone once say that to essential to understanding where we are is comprehending where we’ve been? I don’t know who said it, but it certainly isn’t mine.

Those early scientists certainly had a lot to think about. I haven’t finished the book yet, but the common thread was that each person saw a problem that needed solving. Some aspect of a project they were working on was inconvenient, so the set out to make it easier. The other common thread is that as they made some aspect of a project easier, they quickly uncovered something else that wasn’t as easy as they would have liked it to be. It was either another ‘root’ problem, or a result of the latest invention. Luckily for us in 2005, there are still problems to be solved, and aspects of computing that still beg for research and thought.

I wonder if Turing and von Neumann knew of the impact that their thoughts would have upon the world at the time that they were doing their research. What would they think to see the world of computing today? I can only imagine that it would be pleasing. More about the book when I finish.

No comments: