A Review of The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal

The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing PersonalThe Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal by M. Mitchell Waldrop
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having just read Katie Hafner’s Where Wizard’s Stay Up Late I was ready to tackle this book, which is both deeper and more ambitious. Where Hafner’s book was purely about the origin of the Internet, Waldrop is taking on the whole idea of personal computing. Licklider thus provides the focus for this book, for while he played a crucial role in promoting networking, his true aim was always what he termed a symbiotic partnership between humans and computers, and for him networking was just a necessary step to getting there. That is one of the reasons Licklider provided crucial support to Doug Engelbart, for instance. And even when Licklider was out of the picture (during the heyday of Xerox PARC, for instance) Waldrop keeps his focus on the development of the personal computer. If you like this kind of history and want to know just who did what in those early days, this book is indispensable.

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