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The Infinite Bit: An Inside Story of Digital Technology

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Length: 896 pages13 hours

Summary

This book is the story of digital technology from a scientific and engineering perspective. It brings to the reader the wonders of science and the ingenuity in engineering. It shows that technology is not just a tool but also an interesting process. It explores technology’s creation from the perspective of needs, problems, and ideas that shaped the digital revolution.

Developments are seen through the eyes and thoughts of inventors. In addition, these are placed within a historical context of the times in which they lived. The narration focuses on the joy of discovery and the impact of invention. Recent technology of the twenty-first century is traced to its beginnings, thus giving a perspective of evolution from simple origins to the complex systems of today. Controversies and engineering blunders have an important place in this story.

For the layperson, the book will serve as a readable introduction to terms we often encounter in everyday language but may not necessarily understand them—Twitter, SMS, email, digital encoding, online security, megapixels, gigabytes, resolution, HDTV, MP3, data modem, ADSL broadband, smartphones, bandwidth, and bit rate. These terms are merged into a continuous narrative that uses little technical jargon or mathematics.

The book starts with telegraphy and telephony. Telephony is perhaps the most important technology of the twentieth century. Many others, including the modern Web and cellular communications, evolved from it. Going beyond telecommunications, the development of computing machines is narrated in detail. Early history of the Internet, which later incorporated the World Wide Web, is given due importance. Condensed histories of famous corporations form a necessary part of the narrative—AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, and Google.

The book will benefit all users of digital technology who are curious to learn about its inventors, the inventions, and the contexts in which the technology evolved. Beyond students and practising engineers, the book’s non-technical style will appeal to many not necessarily from an engineering background.

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