The secret world of computers


As you know, each issue has its own title. The subject is on the computer — the very topic that is most important to us.

When I was a child, computers were very strange. It was incomprehensible — you had to know the language — and very interesting. I spent countless hours looking around my mother’s office, writing simple programs, mapping the prisons in Zork, and trying to understand the environment inside the box.

Today computers are, of course, virtually everywhere — in every pocket and car, even on the walls of our homes. And although computers, and computers, have become ubiquitous and accessible, their roles are often more dramatic now than they were when I was a child in the 1980s. Almost every aspect of modern life is now transformed by systems we cannot control. This is not because networks or applications or algorithms are stored by another invisible group. As Will Douglas Heaven wrote, the way computers work has changed with the rise of artificial intelligence. We want to help reduce things a bit.

This article considers how we were reached and where we are going. The first story of Margaret O’Mara launches a computer program in its long history. Research by Siobhan Roberts on cheating P vs. NP question following a long path Sisyphean researchers traveled to try to find a definitive answer. Chris Turner’s commentary More Pixel History it begins with a review of the history of “Digital Light” and builds the unexpected, the most exciting story in the success of Steamed Hams. (You just have to read them.)

But history has been designed to help us today. Morgan Ames is looking into the hype around One laptop on a Baby help us find the best way to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our community have access to access. Fay Cobb Payton, Lynette Yarger, and Victor Mbarika explain how we can think creating real-life processes in companies for unrepresented groups. Lakshmi Chandrasekaran’s An analysis of the success of silicon over other technologies that appear to be unstable (Remember spintronics?) shows how other methods can show its importance. Meanwhile, Clive Thompson brings us ASML story, a Dutch company whose transformation plan is keeping Moore’s Law alive, at least for now.



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