Jacquard's Web How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age

ISBN-10: 0192805789

ISBN-13: 9780192805782

Edition: 2006

Authors: James Essinger

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Description:

Jacquard's Web is the story of some of the most ingenious inventors the world has ever known, a fascinating account of how a hand-loom invented in Napoleonic France led to the development of the modern information age. James Essinger, a master story-teller, shows through a series of remarkable and meticulously researched historical connections (spanning two centuries and never investigated before) that the Jacquard loom kick-started a process of scientific evolution whichwould lead directly to the development of the modern computer.The invention of Jacquard's loom in 1804 enabled the master 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; it proved an outstanding success. These cards can very reasonably be described as the world's first computer programmes.In this engaging and delightful book, James Essinger reveals a plethora of extraordinary links between the nineteenth-century world of weaving and today's computer age: to give just one 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 colourful and interesting characters in the history of science and technology: the modest but exceptionally dedicatedJacquard himself, the brilliant but temperamental Victorian polymath Charles Babbage, who dreamt of a cogwheel computer operated using Jacquard cards, and the imaginative and perceptive Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron's only legitimate daughter.
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Book details

List price: $24.95
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 5/21/2007
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 320
Size: 7.70" wide x 5.00" long x 0.70" tall
Weight: 0.506
Language: English

List of illustrations
The engraving that wasn't
A better mousetrap
The son of a master-weaver
The Emperor's new clothes
From weaving to computing
The Difference Engine
The Analytical Engine
A question of faith and funding
The lady who loved the Jacquard loom
A crisis with the American Census
The first Jacquard looms that wove information
The birth of IBM
The Thomas Watson phenomenon
Howard Aiken dreams of a computer
IBM and the Harvard Mark 1
Weaving at the speed of light
The future
Charles Babbage's vindication
Ada Lovelace's letter to Charles Babbage, 14 August 1843
How the Jacquard loom worked
Acknowledgements
Notes on sources
Bibliography
Index
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