Publisher Information: Novato: historyofscience.com, 2002. This book, published in an edition of 500 copies, describes a library of technical reports, books, pamphlets, ephemera, letters, typescripts, manuscripts, prints, photographs, blueprints, and medals on the history of computing, networking, and related aspects of telecommunications. The material it describes ranges chronologically from 1613 to about 1970. There are 1411 annotated entries.
Few of the bibliographies of scientific and technological classics consulted by twentieth-century science collectors included any representation of computing. Harrison Horblit's One Hundred Books Famous in Science and Printing and the Mind of Man cited only the seventeenth century invention of logarithms by John Napier relative to the history of computing. Bern Dibner's Heralds of Science also cited that and Napier's Rabdologiae. En Francais dans le texte ignored the topic of computing entirely. Hook and Norman's catalogue of The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine also included the writings of Napier and a few works by Charles Babbage. Haskell Norman's One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine cited one computer-related reference. Morton's Medical Bibliography, fifth edition, edited by Jeremy Norman, included a handful of references to computing in medicine. Dibner, Printing and the Mind of Man, and Hook and Norman also contained a few references to the telegraph and the telephone.
One reason why the traditional reference works for collectors of the history of science ignored computing is that most of these were written around the middle of the twentieth century before computing was pervasive. Dibner first published Heralds of Science in 1955. Horblit based his book on an exhibition at the Grolier Club held in 1958. The Printing and the Mind of Man exhibition was held in 1963. Though we published the catalogue of the Haskell F. Norman library in 1991, Dr. Norman began forming his library around 1955. In book selection he was profoundly influenced by the works just mentioned, and also by William Osler's Bibliotheca Osleriana, posthumously published in 1929, but describing a library formed before Osler's death in 1919. Another work equally influential on Dr. Norman was the catalogue of the library of Harvey Cushing. Virtually the only books relevant to computing in the Osler and Cushing libraries were also the writings of John Napier. Collecting new subjects such as computing, networking and telecommunications involved collecting types of documents that had not typically been included in private libraries of rare science books. To describe a library that broke new paths, combining manuscripts, typescripts, and photographs with printed and duplicated material produced by a wide variety of methods, from traditional letterpress to mimeograph, blueprint, ditto, and photocopying, we found it necessary to employ a variety of bibliographical and organizational techniques that had not typically been combined in this way. These techniques included traditional descriptive bibliography, bio-bibliography, and what might be called descriptive or annotation techniques found in some catalogues of museum or rare book library exhibitions. Throughout the diversity of Origins of Cyberspace we created an elaborate system of cross-references that was only possible in a work of this complexity because the software maintained the integrity of the cross-references throughout the editorial process.
When we wrote this book the convergence of electronic media and computing technologies through the Internet had begun so recently that there had been no previous bibliographic effort to document this development for rare book collectors. Nor had there been documented efforts to collect the history of these subjects before the Internet was established. The only significant bibliographies of private collections of rare books concerning aspects of computing or telecommunications were the catalogues of the libraries of Sir Francis Ronalds and Latimer Clark, which were formed before the end of the nineteenth century. Both of these libraries collected the history of electricity, magnetism, and telegraphy.
Yet convergence of electronic media through the Internet drew our attention to historical relationships between electronic media. One of the most basic was that telegraph networks were the first data networks for the communication of information. The Morse code may be viewed as the first widely used data code. Around the time that the world began to be fully wired for telegraphy, Hertz in 1887 theorized the possibility of wireless transmission. In 1895, having read Hertz's work, Marconi invented wireless telegraphy, later called radio. Initially what was transmitted over radio was telegraph code. The merging of wireless transmission and information processing was made about one hundred years after the invention of wireless telegraphy, when the Internet enabled computers to evolve into personal communication devices. For this to occur a complex series of technological advances had to take place, only the most basic of these could be briefly summarized here. The telephone, an analog device, had to be invented (1878), and telephone network technology had to evolve. The electronic digital computer had to be invented (1943-45), and computing technology had to develop for about fifty years. Data networks using telephone lines had to advance in parallel with computing, leading to the formation of of the first national network of mainframes, ARPANET, in 1969. This would eventually lead to development of the Internet in the 1980s. From their beginning in 1977, cellular telephone networks had to be developed. About fifty years after the invention of electronic digital computing, wireless handheld information processors with Internet connections had to be invented. Digital telephone networks had to be built in addition to traditional analog telephone networks, enabling the invention of wireless digital telephones with web browsers. Through these, and many other necessary complex technical developments, such as increases in bandwidth and satellite communications, and a multitude of advances in software, overall features of the wired and wireless Internet could be traced back through the history of computing and telephone to telegraphy.
It was a coincidence, and a remarkable demonstration of the extent to which these major fields had been ignored by collectors and descriptive bibliographers, that approximately one hundred years before this bibliography was written, the history of telegraphy had been the subject of the only two bibliographies of major private libraries that contained more than a few items relevant to the Origins of Cyberspace. It was also amazing, but most probably true, that prior to Origins of Cyberspace the only published catalogue of a private library that focused on subjects directly concerning the history of computing, rather than the history of mathematics, except for the auction catalogue of the Weinreb sale in 1999, was the auction catalogue of the library of Charles Babbage published in 1872. Includes annotated timeline of significant events from 1599 to 1990 that is cross-referenced to the book. Also includes several essays. Indexed. 670 pages. 284 illustrations. 8-1/2 x 11 inches. Printed in two colors throughout. Cloth, acid-free paper. Limited to 500 copies. See the full online prospectus on our website. Book Id: 38301