Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

A short history of computer science

There’s a hidden science that affects every part of your life, a science so powerful that you would be hard-pressed to find a single human being on the planet unaffected by its achievements. It is the science behind computers, the machines which drive the supply and creation of power, food, medicine, money, communication, entertainment, and most goods our stores. It has transformed societies with the Internet, the digitization of information, mobile phone networks, and GPS technologies.

Peter Bentley, author of Digitized: The Science of Computers and How It Shapes Our World, explores how this young discipline grew from the early work by pioneers such as Turing, through its growth spurts in the Internet, its difficult adolescent stage where the promises of AI were never achieved and dot-com bubble burst, to its current stage as a semi-mature field, capable of remarkable achievements

We challenged him to name the most important and unknown people in the history of computer science in under three minutes. Which famous computer scientist had a passion for unicycles and juggling?

Answer at the bottom of the page.

 

 

ANSWER: It was Claude Shannon!

Recent Comments

  1. Tyler

    It’s obvious Bentley is interested in humanizing famous computer scientists, and I think this sounds like a fascinating read.

  2. [...] And how would Alan Turing have responded to this speech, had he heard of it? Perhaps it would be similar to the response he made to the ‘strong comments’ of Wilkes some 50 years earlier, on the subject of Wilkes’ designs for his pioneering computer. Turing said the work was, “much more in the American tradition of solving one’s difficulties with much equipment rather than thought.” Dr. Peter J. Bentley has been called a creative maverick computer scientist. He is an Honorary Reader at the Department of Computer Science, University College London (UCL), Collaborating Professor at the Korean Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST), a contributing editor for WIRED UK, a consultant and a freelance writer. He has published approximately 200 scientific papers and is author of Digitized: the science of computers and how it shapes our world, which published this month. Read Peter’s previous post on “Three conversations with computers” or watch an interview with him. [...]

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