Recomputing and Computing history are hot topics these days. If needed to be convinced, look at how successful and prolific the UK publisher Bitmap Books is (here). As early as 2007, Chronicle Books published the coffee table book: Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers. The minimalistic write-up by John Alderman and the gorgeous photos by Mark Richards was the reference in its three editions. Note that you can buy several of Mark’s pictures online (here).
But it is over now, with the just-released The Computer published by Taschen (editor Julius Wiedemann – ISBN 978-3-8365-7334-4 – here). For $80, this large and heavy book (XL) can be yours! Like Core Memory, The Computer is multilingual, and you can choose between two versions: English, French, and German (the one I picked) or English, Italian, and Spanish.
In his book, Jens Müller retraces the period from the 17th century to today. Even in 472 pages, this is a tour de force. And after a day of cherry-picking, I see no outrageous gaps or missing periods. Of course, this is not a scholarly computer history per se, but a beautiful, highly documented visual encyclopedia. I enjoy jumping between topics and appreciate the author’s holistic approach.
Indeed, Jens opens the aperture and presents us with the era overview, the representative computers, of course, but also related marital, such as advertisements, magazines, hand-drawn schemas, etc. Last but not least, the photos and illustrations are exceptional, making the read a pure delight!
Beware, though; this book is a beast (XL – Hardcover, 9.7 x 14.6 in., 8.58 lbs., 472 pages). The print quality is excellent, and the paper quality is good. I wish it would be packed with the same case Bitmap Books takes when shipping their books. I was lucky; the ~10 lbs book survived the delivery process. Ah, one thing is sure, you will need an open table or invest in a bookstand (here) to enjoy The Computer.