Hard Cover 256 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1St Edition edition (December 1, 2004)
Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
Publication Date: December 1, 2004
In Jacquard's Web, James Essinger tells the story of some of the most brilliant inventors the world has ever known, in this fascinating account of how a hand-loom invented in Napoleonic France led to the development of the modern information age.
Essinger, a master story-teller, describes how Joseph-Marie Jacquard's loom enabled the silk-weavers of Lyons to weave fabrics 25 times faster than had previously been possible. The device used punched cards, which stored instructions for weaving whatever pattern or design was required. These cards can very reasonably be described as the world's first computer programs. Indeed, Essinger shows through a series of remarkable and meticulously researched historical connections--connections never before investigated--that the Jacquard loom kick-started a process of scientific evolution which would lead directly to the development of the modern computer. The book examines a wealth of extraordinary links between the nineteenth-century world of weaving and today's computer age: for example, modern computer graphics displays are based on exactly the same principles as those employed in Jacquard's special woven tableaux. Jacquard's Web also introduces some of the most colorful and interesting characters in the history of science and technology: the modest but exceptionally dedicated Jacquard himself; the brilliant but temperamental Victorian polymath Charles Babbage, who dreamed of a cogwheel computer operated using Jacquard cards; and the imaginative and perceptive Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron's only legitimate daughter.
Attractively illustrated and compellingly narrated, Jacquard's Web is an engaging and delightful volume. It is an impressive case of historical detective work, one that will leave the reader mesmerized.
"With wit and imagination, Essinger has woven a marvelous tapestry celebrating this rugs-to-riches story and the unlikely birth of the information age."--Entertainment Weekly
"Jacquard's Web is more than the biography of a man and his machine. Mr. Essinger moves from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, connecting the loom, step by step, to the Harvard Mark I, the first proper computer, presented to the public in 1944.... Essinger tells his story with passion and with a gracious willingness to help the lay reader grasp the intricacies of technology."--Wall Street Journal
"Essinger does more than weave together science, history, and business: he sheds light on the nature of innovation.... His book deftly shows how even the most surprising breakthroughs are based on the work of others, and need a host of enabling factors to take root. Without the appropriate financial, technological, and cultural factors, no inventor, regardless of passion, can harvest his brilliant machine.... His tale of cultural, economic, and personal factors that enable ideas to become real tools makes this book a welcome addition to the literature of innovation."-- Tom Ehrenfeld, The Boston Globe
"Anyone who enjoyed Tom Standage's book on automata, The Mechanical Turk, will probably enjoy Jacquard's Web."--New Scientist
"An original perspective...the thread that runs through it--the relation of everything that has come since to the principle of the Jacquard loom--quite compelling."--Walter Gratzer, King's College London
Our book is in excellent condition and was very kindly donated by Clive Chaney
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