Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technology

By Howard Rheingold

The digital revolution did not begin with the teenage millionaires of Silicon Valley, claims Howard Rheingold, but with such early intellectual giants as Charles Babbage, George Boole, and John von Neumann. In a highly engaging style, Rheingold tells the story of what he calls the patriarchs, pioneers, and infonauts of the computer, focusing in particular on such pioneers as J. C. R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Bob Taylor, and Alan Kay. Taking the reader step by step from nineteenth-century mathematics to contemporary computing, he introduces a fascinating collection of eccentrics, mavericks, geniuses, and visionaries.

The book was originally published in 1985, and Rheingold's attempt to envision computing in the 1990s turns out to have been remarkably prescient. This edition contains an afterword, in which Rheingold interviews some of the pioneers discussed in the book. As an exercise in what he calls "retrospective futurism," Rheingold also looks back at how he looked forward.



Posted March 27, 2012, 10:00 PM with category of Innovation & Creativity
Regular readers of this blog know that we're very interested (or at least I'm very interested) in how the internet is changing not only how we socialize, shop, and work, but how we think and function as human beings—individually, culturally, and as a society. Going back to 2007 when Andrew Keen's Cult of the Amateur went up against David Weinberger's Everything Is Miscellaneous, and continuing through last year when Nicholas Carr's The Shallows was released around the time of Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus, we've been fortunate that publishers have put out books by great thinkers that take opposing sides of the issue that we can compare and contrast. It always sparks a lively conversation. Read more


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About the Paperback

Publisher MIT Press (MA)
Publish date 04/13/2000
Pages 360
ISBN-13 9780262681155
ISBN-10 0262681153
Language English