Revolutionsare known for causing wars and instabilities since ancient times.However, according to Walter Isaacson, “digital revolution” hasaided in the liberation of mankind. The revolution has empoweredeverybody. Today, it is possible for one to chat with people withoutnecessarily meeting them. Blogs have enabled many to voice theiropinions on matters thus aiding democracy. The globe is wired up. Thecollective efforts of geniuses have led to this advances that areequal to miracles.
“Necessityis the mother of invention.” The advancements in technology weremade in order to fulfill a political necessity. In 1930s, thepioneers of computers served the military. The Colossus was used todecipher codes. The U.S air force would later make use of theavailable microchips to guide warheads. However, when the price ofthe chips dropped, they became available for other personal uses.
Thenarrative of Isaacson tells the story of how computers became toys. Acentury ago, punch cards were aided communication between computers.After building a circuit that would overpower the phone, SteveWozniak called the pope over a long distance as a celebrationgesture. According to Isaacson, then internet has been developed viathe collaboration between hackers, the government, and researchers.Developing the internet, I similar to building a cathedral. It is notpossible for a single architect to design a cathedral since thestructure is a combination of several pieces. In his description ofthe development of the internet, Isaacson has used the analogy ofquilting bees. In this reading, the Internet has proven to be themost generous of the American bequests. Isaacson is a strong believerin the scientists who would avail the software without any charges[ CITATION Isa14 l 1033 ].
Inhis book, Isaacson is too optimistic. He ignores the dark side of theinternet. He fails to highlight the spread of online porn. On top ofthat, he does not expose the “dark internet” that allowsterrorists to exchange hidden messages. He has too much faith in theWikipedia and fails to unveil its vulnerability to trouble makers andliars.
Isaacson’swork is all about intellectual insights. The book shows a repetitivepattern. The inventors of technology did not work alone. Successfulinvention requires a team. The team must not be made up of peoplewith similar abilities. Rather, a pair of opposites would make up agood team. Some people could be technocrats while others arevisionaries. For instance, the famous apple company was built bySteve Jobs and his colleague Wozniak. Google was born when SergeyBrin and Larry page teamed up. The book clears and proves the pointthat “two are better than one”. However, though the allianceshave achieved much, some have proved to be shaky[ CITATION Isa14 l 1033 ].
Today,people such as Larry page, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others arebeing praised and given credit for the technological advancements.However, Isaacson recognizes the pioneers of technology. One of thesepioneers is Charles Babbage. He invented the difference engine. AdaLovelace had added notes to the engine in order to create devicesthat would be used to process poems, patterns, and music. The ideahad formed a basis for computer programming[ CITATION Isa14 l 1033 ].Thebirth of programming led to the gradual transformation of the simplecalculator to the machine that is known today such as a laptop ortablet.
Moderncomputing is not the work of one brain. Rather, it the outcome ofmany inspirations. The vision of Babbage came true some one hundredyears after his invention. In 1937, the work of great minds foundthat the creation of a modern computer would involve a combination ofelectronic components, advanced circuits, and the binary language. In 1945, inventors created the first computer that would make use ofthe four elements. The computer was known as “Electronic NumericIntegrator and Computer” (ENIAC). ENIAC was a completely electroniccomputer that was efficient and powerful. It`s functionality togetherwith composition forms the basis for the modern computing. Themachine had been designed and crafted by Eckert and Mauchly. Again,the point of teaming up becomes emphasized further.
Programmingproved to be the invention behind multi-use machines. Ada hadenvisioned a computer that would perform logical operations. Such amachine would not operate on hardware alone. Rather, it would becontrolled by software. In 1948, Alan Turing came up with theprogramming concept. He did not see the need of having manyspecialized machines doing distinct jobs. Rather, he envisioned asingle machine that would be “programmed” to tackle the requiredoperations. During the Second World War, Grace Hopper wrote the firstprogramming manual, and she began working on the Mark 1. By 1945, shehad transformed the Mark 1 into an easily programmable computer[ CITATION Isa14 l 1033 ].
Themilestones had not yet marked the start of the “digital revolution”since the computers were too big. The advent of transistors gavebirth to the digital age. The tiny semiconductors would enablecomplex programs to run on small devices. At Bell Labs, talents werecombined, and the revolutionary devices came to be. At Bell Labs,William Shokey and his team managed to cram all the semiconductorparts into a small space thus creating the first transistor. Thetransistors would later replace the vacuum tubes. The transistorallowed advanced circuitry. The number of components in the circuithad increased thus making it impossible to craft the circuits byhand. The invention of the microchip would later give a solution. Themaking of the microchips was automated in order to combat the tyrannyof number. In 1971, Ted Hoff designed and crafted a general-purposechip that would be known as the microprocessor. The processor wouldbe programmed to handle several applications[ CITATION Isa14 l 1033 ].
SteveJobs and his companion Wozniak had the aim of merging technology andvision. The two later founded the Apple Computer. It became clear tomany people that computers could then be used as a source ofentertainment. Video games such as space wars were also created.
Thenext big thing would be inventing the internet. The creation of theinternet was made possible by the collaboration of privatecorporations, universities, and the military. At first, a simplenetwork enabled the transfer of data and information from onecomputer to the other. The computer used the Internet Protocol (IP)address. The internet was not meant for public use. However, the useof the modem enabled the computer users to tap into the phone linesand have access to the global network. Though the people could easilyaccess the internet using the modems, they found it hard to navigate.To solve this, Tim Berners-Lee crafted the World Wide Web. His strokeof genius pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of the computers.He found out how the computers would easily workout information. Acombination of the internet and hypertext enabled the users to findinformation by keying in specific phrases and words. Evidently, Timwas a good hearted man. He wanted everyone to use the World Wide Webfor free in order to share ideas. Currently, thanks to Tim Lee, wecan use the World Wide Web to share and store ideas on a big scale[ CITATION Isa14 l 1033 ].
Today,computers are a necessity. They make work easy, and everyone can useone. The internet has transformed the earth into a global village.However, as we enjoy the services of the computer, it good to flashback at the history of the innovators. Isaacson has brought a clearpoint concerning partnership. A reading of this book shows that muchcan be accomplished if people were to work as a team. Today, namessuch as Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and Bill Gates are well known byalmost everyone. However, the technological advancements that we seetoday are a fulfillment of the dreams and visions of people likeCharles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. The full credit for theseadvancements should go to this people. As we surf in the internet, itis good to remember the unselfish sacrifice that was made by Tim Lee.
‘TheInnovators’ is a book that imparts much knowledge about the historyof computers. It has got a high educational value. However, Isaacsonis blinded by the huge achievements in technology that he forgets toshed light on the dark side of the computers. Easy communicationenables terrorists to carry out various attacks without beingnoticed. In the entertainment sector, there is the pornographyindustry that is now booming and corrupting young minds. Putting thataside. Nevertheless, the book ‘Innovators’ is a treasure.
Isaacson, Walter. The innovators : how a group of hackers, geniuses, and Geeks created the digital revolution. Newyork: Simon & Schuster, 2014.