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Book reviews — April 1981

'The Silicon Civilisation', by Alan Burkitt & Elaine Williams
W.H. Allen 1980 266 pp (no illustrations) £6.95
Perhaps overlong for its content and somewhat repetitive, for the GLIAS reader this book contains numerous fascinating snippets of information. We learn for instance that Augusta Ada Byron, later Lady Lovelace, was the first computer programmer. The only child of Lord Byron and his wife Annabella, she was a close friend of Charles Babbage of calculating engine fame (the father of modern computing) and being a gifted mathematician admired his work greatly. Did you know that the US Digital Equipment Company, makers of the POP system of computers, set up in business on the second floor of a Civil War woollen mill in Maynard, Massachusetts, the town where the firm still has its headquarters or that the word Robot was invented in 1920 by the Czech writer Karel Capek, who wrote a play called 'Rossum's Universal Robots' — the word Robot being derived from the Czech word "robota" meaning labour? Many of you will know Alan Burkitt as a GLIAS member. If you know nothing of the world of micro-electronics this could be your introduction to the subject. Bob Carr

© GLIAS, 1981