Recommended Technology Books (for modern citizens)

(mostly) Technology (some) Math


Chip War (2022) Chris Miller
subtitled: The Fight for the World's Most Critical Technology
464 pages

 highly recommended  for all citizens

An epic account of the decades-long battle to control what has emerged as the world’s most critical resource—microchip technology—with the United States and China increasingly in conflict.

You may be surprised to learn that microchips are the new oil—the scarce resource on which the modern world depends. Today, military, economic, and geopolitical power are built on a foundation of computer chips. Virtually everything—from missiles to microwaves—runs on chips, including cars, smartphones, the stock market, even the electric grid. Until recently, America designed and built the fastest chips and maintained its lead as the #1 superpower, but America’s edge is in danger of slipping, undermined by players in Taiwan, Korea, and Europe taking over manufacturing. Now, as Chip War reveals, China, which spends more on chips than any other product, is pouring billions into a chip-building initiative to catch up to the US. At stake is America’s military superiority and economic prosperity.

Economic historian Chris Miller explains how the semiconductor came to play a critical role in modern life and how the U.S. became dominant in chip design and manufacturing and applied this technology to military systems. America's victory in the Cold War and its global military dominance stems from its ability to harness computing power more effectively than any other power. But here, too, China is catching up, with its chip-building ambitions and military modernization going hand in hand. America has let key components of the chip-building process slip out of its grasp, contributing not only to a worldwide chip shortage but also a new Cold War with a superpower adversary that is desperate to bridge the gap.

Illuminating, timely, and fascinating, Chip War shows that, to make sense of the current state of politics, economics, and technology, we must first understand the vital role played by chips.

(1) I've been working with semiconductors (discreet transistors as well as chips) since the early 1970s so at least half of this book is a rear-view mirror glimpse of the semiconductor industry. But in this book I see a common theme which is this: North American capitalism facilitated the transfer of a lot of technological knowledge from North America to East Asia while making a lot of North Americans extremely wealthy. But there came a point when East Asian companies no longer needed their North American progenitors which caused many North American people outside the semiconductor industry (politicians, military contractors, spies) to claim that East Asian companies stole everything. A few things that jumped out at me were blurbs about Chinese telecom giant, Huawei where the author clearly states that Huawei invests more money in R&D than any other company on the planet. At one point this included hiring 100 consultants from IBM for more than a decade to streamline Huawei operations "making Huawei more IBM-like". While I see nothing wrong with any company hiring and paying consultants, I am shocked when some Western people naively assume that the teacher-student dependency will continuing forever. Like any teacher-student relationship there will come a point when the student will not need the teacher (or the student will become the teacher)
(2) I really don't understand the American CHIPS and Science Act (2022) which will spend more than $52 billion dollars to bring some semiconductor manufacturing back to mainland USA after American-style capitalism enabled it to leave in the first place. America could have saved themselves a lot of time and money by not allowing the technology transfer. One way to do this is with a progressive tax system which would prevent people from becoming extremely wealthy. For example, I never see people at Toyota, Honda, or Hyundai becoming extremely wealthy so those companies never seem to shut down and their employees and supply chains seem seem perpetually busy.
(3) I worked a summer job in 1970 building color TVs at Electrohome in Kitchener. Back then, most North American electronic technicians were comfortable working with vacuum tube electronics ("valves" for you Brits) so allowed the harder-to-understand semiconductor technology to be outsourced to Japan. So even in 1970, an Electrohome color TV was a hybrid of "North American manufactured printed circuit boards containing vacuum tubes" combined with "Japanese manufactured printed circuit boards containing semiconductors". I recall a conversation with one of the onsite engineers where I heard that within the next decade "100% of the stuff would be manufactured in Japan". Thankfully I was able to continue my education then work in a different field but I recall people claiming that Japan had stolen everything. Humans can be quite ridiculous. 

comment: On 2021-02-12 I received these next two books after winning them in an online auction (I know I paid too much for them but hey). Not sure if they should go here or on my Recommended Science Books page but they are full of all kinds of cool nerdy stuff.

Astronomical Algorithms (1991) Jean Meeus
429 Pages (hardcover)

 highly recommended  for all computer nerds also interested in astronomy

Fundamental Ephemeris Computations (1999) Paul J. Heafner
subtitled: For use with JPL data
315 Pages (hardcover) with CD-ROM containing "C" and PowerBasic Source Code

 highly recommended  for all computer nerds also interested in astronomy

Permanent Record (2019) Edward Snowden

 highly recommended  for all citizens

Whatever you previously thought about Edward Snowden will be changed for the better after you read this book. (full disclosure, I had no intention of reading this book until I watched the Oliver Stone movie titled "Snowden" in 2020)

BlackBerry Town (2019) Chuck Howitt

BlackBerry was an astonishing tech success story — two Canadian entrepreneurs created the smartphone, and rode their invention to worldwide success and a company worth billions. As this pioneering book relates, they didn't do so alone. Their innovative ideas came about in an environment of expert academics, a university attuned to tech innovation, an available workforce of skilled enthusiasts, early financial backers and federal government officials lending support. As Howitt learned, BlackBerry's history is a fascinating example of how the right people in the right environment at the right time can go far — and fast. Yet the BlackBerry story resembles another Canadian high-tech achievement — the Avro Arrow fighter jet. The tumble from the heights of success came quickly. The downfall left room for world tech giants to capture the lead in the marketplace BlackBerry had created. Apple, Samsung and others reaped the riches that flowed from the smartphone's invention. But whereas the Avro Arrow was utterly destroyed, Howitt found that the BlackBerry story went in a more positive direction. As a corporation, BlackBerry remains a significant player in the software field. BlackBerry's co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, have used their personal fortunes to fund major research institutes in Waterloo. Other BlackBerry employees are involved in a host of tech companies. The Kitchener-Waterloo area remains a dynamic, growing town that fosters innovators and tech-based industry. The BlackBerry story offers many insights into how a resilient region can deal with both success and failure — and stay healthy as a place to live and work. Canada has a lot to learn from BlackBerry Town.

comment: this book also touches on other Waterloo-area success stories including this limited list: Watcom, Maplesoft (Waterloo Maple), Pixstream (reformed as SandVine), MKS, OpenText, Electrohome, Christie Digital, Com Dev, Dalsa, Miovision, Aeryon Labs, Vidyard, Clearpath Robotics, Auvik Networks, and Shopify

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python (2015) Al Sweigart
Practical Programming for Total Beginners

comment: I began my career learning Interpreted BASIC (Heathkit-H8, Apple2, TRS-80, HP-3000). Moving to compiled languages (COBOL, FORTRAN, Pascal, VMS-BASIC, C, C++,  etc.) showed me the true power of computers. Humorously, I am ending my career learning Interpreted Python (er, Python3).

Thank You for Being Late (2017) Thomas Friedman

 highly recommended  for all modern employees and employers

This book was named after its first chapter but should have been named after its second: "What the Hell Happened in 2007?"

Chapter titles:

  1. Thank You For Being Late
  2. What the Hell Happened in 2007?
    • Technological change in the western world accelerated in 2007 but this change was missed by most citizens as they watched the economic meltdown of 2007-2008. What happened was this (short list): Apple released the iPhone, Google released the gPhone now better known by the name Android, Google released Google Maps and Google Street View to their new phone, Hadoop, Facebook, Twitter, GitHub to only name 7 of many. More technical observations can be viewed here
    • comment: I can barely remember what life was like before Google Maps and Google Street View on smart phones
  3. Moore's Law [gets a much needed update]
  4. The Supernova [of inexpensive computer power managed by the cloud]
  5. The Market
  6. Mother Nature
  7. Just Too Damned Fast
  8. Turning AI into IA
    • The minimum requirement for middle-class jobs was the three Rs (Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic)
      comment: people wondering where the Rs are in those words so should read this
      Workers this side of Y2K are also required to use the four Cs (Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Coding)
    • quote: Previously, institutions spent much time working on how to optimize returns on financial capital. Now is the time we started thinking more about how to optimize returns on human capital
    • quote: Most good middle-class jobs today - the ones that cannot be outsourced, automated, or robotized, or digitized - are likely to be stempathy (STEM + epathy) jobs. Why? automation has no social skills.
  9. Control vs. Kaos
    • Kaos is misspelt for a reason. This chapter deals with the problems caused by some Americans who continue to promote American power in a 20th century way despite the fact that much of the world is living in a 21st century way. Take countries like Tunisia and Egypt and for example. Despite their apparent lower standard of living compared to the USA, many citizens have cell phones which are being used to acquire information previously unavailable if not blocked. The Arab Spring appeared to be a failure as far as many Americans were concerned. And yet, those middle-east countries have pivoted in a different direction.
  10. Mother Nature as Political Mentor
  11. Is God in Cyberspace?
  12. Always Looking for Minnesota
  13. You Can Go Home Again (and You Should!)
  14. From Minnesota to the World and Back

Comment: if you have any kind if IT job, or are a business person, then you must read this book. There are lots of people (and governments) still purchasing computer solutions based on the computer era before 2007. Just as we saw locomotives move from the age of steam (burning wood then coal) transition to petroleum and now electricity, computers have be morphing from tabulators, to so-called bare metal programs (programs that run without an operating system), to programs running on operating systems (Disk Operating Systems then Network Operating Systems) to programs running on clouds. This last transition has made computer power so inexpensive that now we are in the age of artificial intelligence but not yet artificial consciousness

The Soul of a New Machine (1981/2001) Tracy kidder

 highly recommended

I first read this book back in 1981 but am now (2015) rereading it as a recommendation of the ScienceFriday Summer Book Club.

(corrected) Publisher's Blurb: Computers have changed since 1981, when Tracy Kidder memorably recorded the drama, comedy, and excitement of one company's efforts to bring a new microcomputer minicomputer to market. What has not changed is the feverish pace of the high-tech industry, the go-for-broke approach to business that has caused so many computer companies to win big (or go belly up), and the cult of pursuing mind-bending technological innovations. The Soul of a New Machine is an essential chapter in the history of the machine that revolutionized the world in the twentieth century.


How Linux Works (2nd Edition 2014) Brian Ward
subtitled: What Every Superuser Should Know

Turing's Cathedral (2012) George Dyson
subtitled: The Origins Of The Digital Universe

 VERY highly recommended (a must-have for "computer people") 

In Turing’s Cathedral, George Dyson focuses on a small group of men and women, led by John von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, who built one of the first computers to realize Alan Turing’s vision of a Universal Machine. Their work would break the distinction between numbers that mean things and numbers that do things—and our universe would never be the same.

Using five kilobytes of memory (the amount allocated to displaying the cursor on a computer desktop of today), they achieved unprecedented success in both weather prediction and nuclear weapons design, while tackling, in their spare time, problems ranging from the evolution of viruses to the evolution of stars.



  1. This book is mistitled. "Turing's Cathedral" is actually the title of chapter 13 which makes me wonder if the title of this book was set by the marketing department of publisher. Although Alan Turning's contributions to mathematics, science, computing and war-time decryption are covered, this book it mainly about:
    1. John von Neumann and the people surrounding him at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies.
    2. How the Institute for Advanced Studies designed and built a computer and (MANIAC) computer architecture (von Neumann) still in use today (albeit smaller and faster)
    3. Why these early computers were:
      • instrumental in creating the hydrogen bomb (they ran simulations in Neutron Diffusion) as well as...
      • early attempts at weather and climate prediction (funded by the Air Force who required better forecasts before committing to bomber missions) as well as...
      • simulations of self-reproducing automata
  2. CPU memory was based upon forty Williamson Tubes
    • 1024 bits stored as dots on the screens of forty war-surplus oscilloscope tubes; as each dot began to fade, it needed to be refreshed. This is not much different than the refresh cycle demanded by modern DRAM technology.
    • Bit Calculation: 40 x 1024 / 8 = 5 KB
  3. Unexpected developments in weather forecasts and climate models:
    • Quote from page 155: In 1945, meteorology became a science while [weather] forecasting remained an art. Forecasts where generated by drawing up weather maps by hand, comparing the results with map libraries of previous weather conditions and they making predictions that relied partly on the assumption that weather would do whatever it had done previously and partly on the forecasters intuitive feel for the situation and ability to guess.
    • World War II, with its growing dependence on air craft [including fighters and bombers,] increased the demand for forecasts
    • Scandinavians helped develop the theory of frontal waves and otherwise lead to the understanding what weather might do next. [These red and blue lines are still scene on today's weather maps]
    • This led to a numerical analysis of weather which was later "computerized"
    • Computer weather analysis yielded to the first climate models (yep, all run in 5k of memory)
    • [During the 1940s and 1950s, computers helped accurate weather forecasts to be expanded from 2 days to better than a week]

The Information (2011) James Gleick
subtitled: A History, a Theory, a Flood

In a sense, The Information is a book about everything, from words themselves to talking drums, writing and lexicography, early attempts at an analytical engine, the telegraph and telephone, ENIAC, and the ubiquitous computers that followed. But that's just the "History." The "Theory" focuses on such 20th-century notables as Claude Shannon, Norbert Wiener, Alan Turing, and others who worked on coding, decoding, and re-coding both the meaning and the myriad messages transmitted via the media of their times. In the "Flood," Gleick explains genetics as biology's mechanism for informational exchange--Is a chicken just an egg's way of making another egg?--and discusses self-replicating memes (ideas as different as earworms and racism) as information's own evolving meta-life forms. Along the way, readers learn about music and quantum mechanics, why forgetting takes work, the meaning of an "interesting number," and why "[t]he bit is the ultimate unsplittable particle." What results is a visceral sense of information's contemporary precedence as a way of understanding the world, a physical/symbolic palimpsest of self-propelled exchange, the universe itself as the ultimate analytical engine. If Borges's "Library of Babel" is literature's iconic cautionary tale about the extreme of informational overload, Gleick sees the opposite, the world as an endlessly unfolding opportunity in which "creatures of the information" may just recognize themselves.

The Linux Programming Interface (2010) Michael Kerrisk
A Linux and UNIX System Programming Handbook

Hacking: The Art of Exploitation (2nd Edition, 2008) Jon Erickson

Inside the Machine (2007) Jon Stokes
subtitled: An Illustrated Introduction to Microprocessors and Computer Architecture

In search of Stupidity (2003:2006) Merrill R. (Rick) Chapman
subtitled: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing

I read the first edition back in 2003 but the material is still very relevant today.

Chapter titles for the second edition:
  1. Introduction
  2. First Movers, First Mistakes (IBM, Digital Research, Apple, and Microsoft)
    or: IBM emulates Apple by moving to an open architecture; undaunted, Apple moves to proprietary
  3. A Rather Nutty Tale: IBM and the PC Junior
  4. Positioning Puzzlers: MicroPro and Microsoft
  5. We Hate You, We Really Hate You: Ed Esber, Ashton-Tate, and Siebel Systems
  6. The Idiot Piper: OS/2 and IBM
  7. Frenchman Eats Frog, Chokes to Death: Borland and Philippe Kahn
  8. Brands for the Burning: Intel, Motorola, and Google
  9. From Godzilla to Gecko: The Long, Slow Decline of Novell
  10. Ripping PR Yarns: Microsoft and Netscape
  11. Purple Haze All Through My Brain: The Internet and ASP Busts
  12. The Strange Case of Dr. Open and Mr. Proprietary
  13. On Avoiding Stupidity
  14. Stupid Analyses

The Pentium Chronicles (2005) Bob Colwell

"The Pentium Chronicles" describes the architecture and key decisions that shaped the P6, Intel's most successful chip to date. As author Robert Colwell recognizes, success is about learning from others, and "Chronicles" is filled with stories of ordinary, exceptional people as well as frank assessments of "oops" moments, leaving you with a better understanding of what it takes to create and grow a winning product. - A landmark chip like the P6 or Pentium 4 doesn't just happen. It takes a confluence of brilliant minds, dedication for beyond the ordinary, and management that nurtures the vision while keeping a firm hand on the project tiller. As chief architect of the P6, Robert Colwell offers a unique perspective as he unfolds the saga of a project that ballooned from a few architects to hundreds of engineers, many just out of school. For more than a treatise on project management, The Pentium Chronicles gives the rationale, the personal triumphs, and the humor that characterized the P6 project, an undertaking that broke all technical boundaries by being the first to try an out-of order, speculative super-scalar architecture in a microprocessor. In refreshingly down-to-earth language, organized around a framework we wish we had known about then, Chronicles describes the architecture and key decisions that shaped the P6, Intel's most successful chip to date. Colwell's inimitable style will have readers laughing out loud at the project team's creative solutions to well-known problems. From architectural planning in a storage room jimmied open with a credit card, to a marketing presentation using shopping carts, he takes readers through events from the projects beginning through its production. As Colwell himself recognizes, success is all about learning from others, and Chronicles is filled with stories of ordinary and exceptional people and frank assessments of oops moments, like the infamous FDIV bug. As its subtitle implies, the book looks beyond RTL models and transistors to the Intel culture, often poking fun at corporate policies, like team-building exercises in which engineers ruthlessly shoot down each other's plans. Whatever your level of computing expertise, Chronicles will delight and inform you, leaving you with a better understanding of what it takes to create and grow a winning product.

(Bob Colwell was Intel's chief IA32 architect through the Pentium II, III, and 4 microprocessors. He now writes in the At Random section of the IEEE magazine titled Computer.) Quote: We don't live long enough to accumulate enough personal experience from our own mistakes, so we amplify our learning by absorbing the experiences of others. This is the key to the collective wisdom of the human race.

DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC (2003-2004) Edgar H. Schein
subtitled: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporation

Digital Equipment Corporation achieved sales of over $14 billion, reached the Fortune 50, and was second only to IBM as a computer manufacturer. Though responsible for the invention of speech recognition, the minicomputer, and local area networking, DEC ultimately failed as a business and was sold to Compaq Corporation in 1998. This fascinating modern Greek tragedy by Ed Schein, a high-level consultant to DEC for 40 years, shows how DEC's unique corporate culture contributed both to its early successes and later to an organizational rigidity that caused its ultimate downfall.

MIT Sloan School of Management Professor Edgar Schein does a marvelous job telling the story of the rise and fall of Digital Equipment Corporation, the former #2 computer maker in the world behind IBM. The business reasons behind DEC's economic failure have been widely reported (missing the advent of the PC, having too many projects going at once, failure to market products effectively, etc.) However, the big question to be answered is why did these failures occur? To quote one passage, "Why did an organization that was wildly successful for thirty-five years, filled with intelligent, articulate powerful engineers and managers, fail to act effectively to deal with problems that were highly visible to everyone, both inside and outside the organization?"

Schein looks at DEC's failure through the lens of its corporate culture, and how it prohibited their executives from making the decisions, and taking the actions necessary to survive. Fans of Ed Schein will know his famous "Three Cultures of Management" paper, in which he describes the "Executive", "Line Manager" and "Engineering" cultures, all of which must exist and be balanced against one another for an organization to survive. Schein argues that DEC was dominated by the engineering culture, which valued innovation and "elegant" design, over profits and operational efficiency. This engineering culture dominated even the top levels of DEC, where proposals to build PCs out of off the shelf parts that were readily available in the marketplace, were shot down because the machines were thought to be junk compared to the ones DEC could build themselves.

That DEC was able to survive for as long as it did was largely attributable to its ability to innovate in a field that was so new it had not yet coalesced around certain standard systems, software and networks. However, as the computer industry became in effect a commodity market, and the buyers began to value price over innovation, DEC found itself increasingly unable, and in fact, unwilling to compete. The engineering culture which valued innovation and required creative freedom, did not want to subject itself to the requirements of being a commodity player which demanded autocratic operational efficiency and control over how resources were allocated.

Although DEC is now long gone, even readers who were too young to use computers at the time of its demise will find familiar truths in this book. As the old saying goes, the fish in the tank does not see the water it is in. Neither do we often see the cultures in which we are ourselves embedded. The real lesson of this wonderful book is to show us how our corporate cultures often prohibit us from doing the right things, even when we can see them clearly. Sometimes culture is most easily visible in the things you need to discuss, but that are simply "not on the table" for discussion.

There are many lessons here too, for companies that seek to innovate new products and services, and how to balance the creative freedom desired by the engineering culture with the "money gene" culture of sound executive management. The names of companies that have failed to realize the full financial benefits of their technical innovations is too long to list here. But the DEC story is a must read for anyone who seeks to balance innovation with sustainable economic success in any organization.

Showstopper! (1994) G. Pascal Zachary
Show Stopper! (2009) G. Pascal Zachary
subtitled: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution (1984) Steven Levy

In this context, the term Hacker means someone who develops elegant hardware and software solutions (hacking off anything not necessary) rather than someone who does illegal things. But I had no idea that hacking began at MIT as part of their "model railroad club".

Cryptography (read these 3-books in this order)

The Code Book (2000) by Simon Singh
Subtitled: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography

 highly recommended  for people interested in computers, communications, or mathematics

Applied Cryptography (2nd Edition, 1996) Bruce Schneier
Subtitled: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C
Eighteenth Printing, 784 pages

 highly recommended  for software developers

The book details how programmers and electronic communications professionals can use cryptography - the technique of enciphering and deciphering messages - to maintain the privacy of computer data. It describes dozens of cryptography algorithms, gives practical advice on how to implement them into cryptographic software, and shows how they can be used to solve security problems. The book shows programmers who design computer applications, networks, and storage systems how they can build security into their software and systems.

Bulletproof SSL and TLS (2017) Ivan Ristic
Second Printing, 542 pages

 highly recommended  for system admins

System admins and some programmers will need this book. It primarily deals with problems associated with Web Servers and Browsers but this should get you over the hump for other technologies.

DSP (digital signal processing)

Understanding the FFT (1995/2000) Anders E. Zonst
Subtitled "A Tutorial on the Algorithm & Software for Laymen, Students, Technicians & Working Engineers"

Understanding the FFT highly recommended  for engineers (both software and electronic), hackers and nerds

Understanding FFT Applications (1997/2004) Anders E. Zonst
Subtitled "A Tutorial for Laymen, Students, Technicians, & Working Engineers"

Understanding FFT Applications highly recommended  for engineers (both software and electronic), hackers and nerds

Comment: I recently heard the following rumor about these two books: "someone had scanned them into PDFs then were selling copies online for $10". This might be one reason why you can buy these books for less than $10 each online when the back cover shows $29.95 and 34.95 respectively. Citrus Press (of Titusville, Florida) is owned an operated by a small group of retired NASA engineers. Please help support them by purchasing legal copies from Citrus Press and/or Amazon


The Scientist & Engineer's Guide to Digital Signal Processing (1997) by Steven W. Smith

Digital Signal Processing: A Practical Guide for Engineers and Scientists (2002) by Steven W. Smith

Digital Signal Processing 101: Everything you need to know to get started (2010) By Michael Parker

Other Stuff

The Telephone Gambit (2008) Seth Shulman

 highly recommended  for budding technologists or anyone interested in telephony

This is a real pager-turner involving many people including Elisha Gray, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison to only name three of many. The author provides very convincing evidence that Elisha Gray should be credited for the invention of the telephone.

Click here for more details from my telephony page.

Electricity and Magnetism (1900:2011) Elisha Gray

Excerpt from Chapter 1: Thousands who are employed in various ways with enterprises, the foundations of which are electrical, know nothing of electricity as a science. A friend of mine, who is a professor of physics in one of our colleges, was traveling a few years ago, and in his wanderings he came across some sort of a factory where an electric motor was employed. Being on the alert for information, he stepped in and introduced himself to the engineer, and began asking him questions about the electric motor of which he had charge. The professor could talk ohm, ampères, and volts smoothly, and he "fired" some of these electrotechnical names at the engineer. The engineer looked at him blankly and said: "You can't prove it by me. I don't know what you're talking about. All I know is to turn on the juice and let her buzz." How much "juice" is wasted in this cut-and-dry world of ours and how much could be saved if only all were even fairly intelligent regarding the laws of nature! A great deal of the business of this world is run on the "let her buzz" theory, and the public pays for the waste. It will continue to be so until a higher order of intelligence is more generally diffused among the people. A fountain can rise no higher than its source. A business will never exceed the intelligence that is put into it, nor will a government ever be greater than its people.

Quote from Chapter 2: Our world is filled with croakers who are always sighing for the good old days. But we can easily imagine that if they could go back to those days their croaking would be still louder than it is.

Quote from Chapter 7: We are simply seeking after truth. The man who is an earnest seeker after scientific truth cannot afford to pursue his investigations with any prejudice in favor of one theory more than another, unless the facts sustain him, and then he is not acting from prejudice, but is led by the facts. Many people make pets of their theories; and they become attached to them as they do their children; and they look upon a man who destroys them by a presentation of the facts as an enemy. I once knew a lady who became so attached to her family doctor that, she said, she would rather die under his treatment, if necessary, than to be cured by any other doctor. There are many people who are imbued with this kind of spirit not only in matters scientific, but in matters religious as well. Such people are not the kind who contribute to the world's progress, but are the hindrances that have to be overcome.


Practical Electronics for Inventors - fourth edition (2016) Paul Scherz and Simon Monk

What an entertaining diversion from the stuff I usually read. While I previously learned much of this stuff (Ohm's Law, Kirchhoff's Laws, Thevenin's Theorem) when I was a teenager in the 1960s, I found this book presentation of those topics refreshingly different. But this book also covers a lot of newer stuff including discreet semiconductor devices, like diodes, LEDs, transistors, as well as integrated (non-discreet) circuits like chips. Yep this book will get you from "introductory DC-AC theory" to "microcontrollers" in 1056 pages.

p.s. In the 1960s all the electronics books I read only presented classical theory. This theory chapter of this book employs both classical and quantum theory (which are not prerequisites for enjoying the remainder of the book)

The Master Switch (2010) Tim Wu

How the World was One (1992) Arthur C. Clarke

Space Craft, Space Flight, Space Technology

A special treat for Apollo nerds: eagle lander 3d activities

Liftoff (2021) Eric Berger
subtitled: Elon Musk and the Desperate Days that Launched SpaceX

 highly recommended  for all nerds interested in space flight
Five years ago I read "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future" (by Ashlee Vance) who covered Musk's beginnings from Zip2 (which was bought by Compaq before the merger with HP) then PayPal on to Tesla and SpaceX. I've been a space buff my whole life so found the SpaceX part of this book most intriguing because very little has been previously documented. I just finished "Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX" and am even more blown away by the stories of how Musk kept the program going when Air Force politics drove SpaceX to move the Falcon-1 launch site from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to an Army base at Kwajalein Atoll. (all space buffs already know that it was the US Army that hosted the efforts of rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun). I am not certain what became of Zip2 after Compaq acquired it but making Musk a millionaire definitely has made the world a more interesting place. Elon Musk will go down in history as a modern day "Howard Hughes". BUY THIS BOOK!

Elon Musk (2015) Ashlee Vance

 highly recommended  for all techies, nerds, and hackers

I am half way through this book and can't believe Musk's accomplishments (so far). This guy is a modern day Howard Hughes crossed with Thomas Edison "simultaneously creating products in three industries" and "employing many tens of thousands" while his peers in silicon valley only talk about their future do-next-to-nothing app for smart phones. ALL TECHIES NEED TO READ THIS BOOK (Steve Jobs should be rolling in his grave; BTW, everyone knows that Steve Jobs could not code; apparently Elon Musk's coding skills include assembly language and C++ which should be good enough for any nerd's CV/résumé)

Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier (2012) Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a rare breed of astrophysicist, one who can speak as easily and brilliantly with popular audiences as with professional scientists. Now that NASA has put human space flight effectively on hold—with a five- or possibly ten-year delay until the next launch of astronauts from U.S. soil—Tyson’s views on the future of space travel and America’s role in that future are especially timely and urgent. This book represents the best of Tyson’s commentary, including a candid new introductory essay on NASA and partisan politics, giving us an eye-opening manifesto on the importance of space exploration for America’s economy, security, and morale. Thanks to Tyson’s fresh voice and trademark humor, his insights are as delightful as they are provocative, on topics that range from the missteps that shaped our recent history of space travel to how aliens, if they existed, might go about finding us.

If you think North American governments should return to manned spaceflight, then this book is for you.

SUNBURST and LUMINARY: An Apollo Memoir (2018) Don Eyles

 highly recommended  for spaceflight and computer enthusiasts

The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation (2010) by Frank O'Brian

 highly recommended  for spaceflight and computer enthusiasts

Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight (2008) David A. Mindell (MIT Press)

 highly recommended  for spaceflight and computer enthusiasts

Failure is not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo-13 and Beyond (2000/2009) Gene Krantz

Gene Kranz was present at the creation of America's manned space program and was a key player in it for three decades. As a flight director in NASA's Mission Control, Kranz witnessed firsthand the making of history. He participated in the space program from the early days of the Mercury program to the last Apollo mission, and beyond. He endured the disastrous first years when rockets blew up and the United States seemed to fall further behind the Soviet Union in the space race. He helped to launch Alan Shepard and John Glenn, then assumed the flight director's role in the Gemini program, which he guided to fruition. With his teammates, he accepted the challenge to carry out President John F. Kennedy's commitment to land a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s. Kranz was flight director for both Apollo 11, the mission in which Neil Armstrong fulfilled President Kennedy's pledge, and Apollo 13. He headed the Tiger Team that had to figure out how to bring the three Apollo 13 astronauts safely back to Earth. (In the film Apollo 13, Kranz was played by the actor Ed Harris, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance.) In Failure Is Not an Option, Gene Kranz recounts these thrilling historic events and offers new information about the famous flights. What appeared as nearly flawless missions to the Moon were, in fact, a series of hair-raising near misses. When the space technology failed, as it sometimes did, the controllers' only recourse was to rely on their skills and those of their teammates. Kranz takes us inside Mission Control and introduces us to some of the whiz kids -- still in their twenties, only a few years out of college -- who had to figure it all out as they went along, creating a great and daring enterprise. He reveals behind-the-scenes details to demonstrate the leadership, discipline, trust, and teamwork that made the space program a success. Finally, Kranz reflects on what has happened to the space program and offers his own bold suggestions about what we ought to be doing in space now. This is a fascinating firsthand account written by a veteran mission controller of one of America's greatest achievements.

Sojourner: An Insider's View of the Mars Pathfinder Mission (2004) Andrew Mishkin

Andrew Mishkin, a senior systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a leader of NASA's robotic program, brings us this insider's look at the Mars Pathfinder probe that electrified the world's imagination. One hundred twenty-two million miles away from her controllers, a sophisticated robot smaller than a microwave oven did what had never been done before-explored the rocky, red terrain of Mars. Then, six-wheeled Sojourner beamed spectacular pictures of her one-of-a-kind mission back to Earth. And millions of people were captivated. Now, with the touch of an expert thriller writer, Sojourner operations team leader Andrew Mishkin tells the inside, human story of the Mars Pathfinder mission's feverish efforts to build a self-guided, off-roading robot to explore the surface of the Red Planet. With witty, compelling anecdotes, he describes the clash of temperamental geniuses, the invention of a new work ethic, the turf wars, the chewing-gum solutions to high-tech problems, the controlled chaos behind the strangely beautiful creation of an artificial intelligence-and the exhilaration of inaugurating the next great age of space exploration

Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module (2004) Thomas J. Kelly

Apollo in Perspective (2000) Jonathan Allday

 highly recommended  for space enthusiasts

Journey to the Moon: The History of the Apollo Guidance Computer (1996) Eldon C. Hall

Time Technology Wiring Unit
1945s Electromechanical Relays
Vacuum Tubes
Hand wiring between components $$$$$$ Experimental - Academic (ENIAC)
1950s Vacuum Tubes Hand wiring between components $$$$$ Experimental - Academic (Whirlwind)
Military (SAGE)
1955s Germanium Transistors/Core Memory Printed Circuits $$$$ Mainframe/Batch
1960s Silicon Transistors/Core Memory
Integrated Circuits Core Memory
Printed Circuits with Integrated Circuits $$$ Mainframe/Interactive
Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC)
Minicomputer (DEC PDP-8)
1970s Microprocessors/Electronic Memory Printed Circuits with Integrated Circuits $$ Minicomputer (DEC PDP-11)
Desktop Computer (Apple II, TRS-80, etc)
1980s Microprocessors/Electronic Memory Printed Circuits with Integrated Circuits $ Desktop Computer (IBM-PC, Compaq, etc)

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Neil Rieck
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.