A story illustrated computer

Couverture du livre : Histoire Illustrée de l'informatique is not often that I present to you some books on this blog. Magazines Yes, because it is alive, it sticks to the news…
For books is a little different and especially for this one which is a history book. It of a bit like those old photo albums that are no longer (almost) since the photo costs nothing but no longer looks… Finally when I say costs nothing, it’s not free to store images in the GB allocated with a lot of marketing by manufacturers of $ smartphones. How many images saved, how much watched, how much forgotten, erased by mistake or technical failure, by the support obsolescence (try to read a CD you have burned 15 years ago…).

then the book remains a support which withstands time. It is estimated that being the oldest book world is written in Etruscan and dates back 2500 years… What will happen in 2000 years of images that are stagnating at the bottom of a fingernail-sized microSD card?

this book I’m talking history in picture of a science that accompanies our species for many years. When I hear “ I want to do it, it’s a profession of the future ‘ I smile thinking that it is also a trade of the past.

Dessin humoristique intitulé computer science was born from the need to count. When I started a computer course, I mentioned the big ball of fire was the land before you get quickly to the hunters and gatherers who are warmly and become breeders.

was born so the need to manage herds, land, taxes… And develop statistics and the calculation.

the origins of computer go deep in the mists of time. When a student is asked today when was the binary, it responds in general “ in the middle of the XX th century “. ”

Figure octogonale avec un symbole yin-yang au centre et des symboles interprétés comme du binaire sur les 8 côtés If you are told this, don’t antagonize your contact…
But show him this picture. The “book of changes” (yi-jing) Chinese date of the first millennium BC ( nan… no Jean-Claude ). Even if the Chinese were probably not using the binary calculation, they used these symbols in which one can recognize the binary numbers.
Replace a full line 1 and line cut by a zero, you will see… This octagonal diagram uses a portion of 64 symbols of the I-Ching.

it is about where this book begins. The choice made by the authors Emmanuel Lazard and Pierre Mounier-Kuhn is to focus on the image. For example the page on the Antikythera machine looks like this:

Copie del apge 25 de

the texts are short specific articles and concise (I like when there is not too much blah – blah). They leave the place to the illustrations. Tell me for a “story illustrated” not bad 😉 but I’ve known illustrated stories in which the images were sparse in a bland text… A good book to read to sleep, which is not the case here: no danger of falling asleep!

Reconstitution de la machine d'Anticythère. Extrait de la page 25 de

reconstruction of the Antikythera machine

histoire_illustree_info_carte_perfo_600px among the mentioned media you can find for the oldest of you punch cards. Each column represents a byte. There are 80 columns… here, as on printers or terminals 🙂

perfo_verif_150px these materials inherited from the jams were perforated manually, and then mechanically and began to read in a tray containing hundreds of cards. They disappeared, taking with them performance/checks of the time… (left image)

histoire_illustree_info_cuba after a visit to the mechanical machines that have helped humans to calculate, we get computers to hits like the one shown above.

histoire_illustree_info_manchester_baby you realize better on these photos that machines of “prehistoric” occupied an important space and require ongoing maintenance.

histoire_illustree_info_transistors histoire_illustree_info_memoire_tore

then come the calculators to transistors (left photo) equipped for some submissions to ferrite Toroid (pictured right) to store… 1 KB of data!

histoire_illustree_info_zx81 a passage by the mythical machine of the ‘ 80s, above the ZX81 with my backup on K7 audio… Wait, I wipe a tear, it’s my first machine 🙂

histoire_illustree_info_flightsim a Flight Simulator in high resolution… of the age 🙂

histoire_illustree_info_kim1 there are also map KIM – 1 6502 processor based. A keyboard can control the whole and 6 displays serve as screen HD 😀

4 digits for the address and 2 digits for the byte. Can’t get any easier.

with my memory of 1Ko KIM – 1 is programmed in Basic and cost “only” $500!

designed originally for the training of engineers, the card quickly was used as personal computer due to its low price. Its creator, the MOS Technology company has been acquired by… Commodore.

histoire_illustree_info_amd_6coeurs we then reach more advanced processors

like this AMD which we see 6 hearts on the upper part of this image.

but of course nano-computers that were created on basis of these modern processors are also mentioned.

histoire_illustree_info_raspi where you can find the Raspberry Pi first version and the card Arduino in the company of BeagleBone.

histoire_illustree_info_datacenter the book ends on the centers of computing or storage, above a data center IBM installed in Italy for the cloud.

one regret about this book, the format of the pages in landscape mode. Definitely suitable for pictures like those of the bays of antique calculators to tubes or data center. But I don’t find it impractical. After this is just my opinion.

with its 280 pages of history of computing and its hundreds of images, this book will help all those who sail in this area for many years to find forgotten images. For those who set foot on the bridge of the first pure vessel, it is probably interesting to know where it came from to better imagine where it can go…

a book to predict at the foot of the tree? ( nan, not Michel…) )


  • book bound: 280 pages

  • Publisher: EDP Sciences – March 2016

  • ISBN: 978-2759818198

  • size: 17.5 x 2.5 x 24.5 cm

  • price: €36

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