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The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal (2000)

por M. Mitchell Waldrop

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"The year is 1962. More than a decade will pass before personal computers emerge from the garages of Silicon Valley, and a full thirty years before the Internet explosion of the 1990s. The word computer still has an ominous tone, conjuring up the image of a huge, intimidating device hidden away in an overlit, air-conditioned basement, relentlessly processing punch cards for some large institution: them. Yet, sitting in a nondescript office in Robert McNamara's Pentagon, a quiet forty-seven-year-old civilian is already planning the revolution that will change forever the way computers are perceived. Somehow, the occupant of that office - a former MIT psychologist named J.C.R. Licklider - has seen a future in which computers will empower individuals, instead of forcing them into rigid conformity. He is almost alone in his conviction that computers can become not just superfast calculating machines but joyful machines: tools that will serve as new media of expression, inspirations to creativity, and gateways to a vast world of on line information. And now he is determined to use the Pentagon's money to make that vision a reality."--Jacket.… (mais)
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The role J.C.R. Licklider played in creating the Internet and the entire personal computer revolution. Very well researched and written. ( )
  MylesKesten | Jan 23, 2024 |
excellent, but much too detailed to be considered light reading ( )
  hueyy | Jul 13, 2021 |
The Dream Machine, which is nominally a biography of J.C.R. Licklider, is actually an overview of the history of computing from M.I.T.'s Whirlwind effort through the beginnings of true personal computing in Silicon Valley; much of the book concerns ARPA and ARPAnet. Lick's biography is embedded in the story, but its purpose is to center the discussion. The predominant focus of the book is on the efforts of Licklider's colleagues, and it often strays far from his life story.

This is a terrific book. The writing is lucid, the research--though predominantly from secondary sources--is excellent. If you plan to read one book about the ARPA computing effort, this should be that book.



This short review has also been published on a dabbler's journal. ( )
1 vote joeldinda | Mar 30, 2012 |
This book painted a really inspirational picture for me of the pioneering days of computing. There is a lot of extremely well researched history here that I really had no clue about beyond high level details about ARPA and ARPANET.

The book is about JCR Licklider , a truly fascinating and compelling guy who somehow managed to be a driving force behind a wide range of movements that drove computing off of the big iron/batch style status quo of IBM and to the interactive time sharing and eventually the stand alone graphical terminals of PARC. Completely fascinating read, but a bit slow in the first 50 pages or so.

I had to wonder if Lick's role wasn't being overstated by the author, but at the same time the portrait of the man felt honest and included warts that balanced the narrative and avoided making him too big of a hero. I only wish that the man was still alive so we could see more of him and so that he could see more of what he helped create. ( )
1 vote chriswhitmore | May 6, 2008 |
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"The year is 1962. More than a decade will pass before personal computers emerge from the garages of Silicon Valley, and a full thirty years before the Internet explosion of the 1990s. The word computer still has an ominous tone, conjuring up the image of a huge, intimidating device hidden away in an overlit, air-conditioned basement, relentlessly processing punch cards for some large institution: them. Yet, sitting in a nondescript office in Robert McNamara's Pentagon, a quiet forty-seven-year-old civilian is already planning the revolution that will change forever the way computers are perceived. Somehow, the occupant of that office - a former MIT psychologist named J.C.R. Licklider - has seen a future in which computers will empower individuals, instead of forcing them into rigid conformity. He is almost alone in his conviction that computers can become not just superfast calculating machines but joyful machines: tools that will serve as new media of expression, inspirations to creativity, and gateways to a vast world of on line information. And now he is determined to use the Pentagon's money to make that vision a reality."--Jacket.

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