Today on almost every desk in every office sits a computer. Eighty yearsago, desktops were equipped with a nonelectronic data processing machine: a cardfile. In Paper Machines, Markus Krajewski traces the evolution of thisproto-computer of rearrangeable parts (file cards) that became ubiquitous in officesbetween the world wars. The story begins with Konrad Gessner, a sixteenth-centurySwiss polymath who described a new method of processing data: to cut up a sheet ofhandwritten notes into slips of paper, with one fact or topic per slip, and arrangeas desired. In the late eighteenth century, the card catalog became the librarian'sanswer to the threat of information overload. Then, at the turn of the twentiethcentury, business adopted the technology of the card catalog as a bookkeeping tool.Krajewski explores this conceptual development and casts the card file as a"universal paper machine" that accomplishes the basic operations ofTuring's universal discrete machine: storing, processing, and transferring data. Intelling his story, Krajewski takes the reader on a number of illuminating detours, telling us, for example, that the card catalog and the numbered street addressemerged at the same time in the same city (Vienna), and that Harvard University'shome-grown cataloging system grew out of a librarian's laziness; and that MelvilDewey (originator of the Dewey Decimal System) helped bring about the technologytransfer of card files to business.
|Hardcover Book, 224 pages||English|
|MIT Press (MA) (Aug. 19th, 2011)||Unknown|
|9780262015899||5.90 x 9.00 x 0.70 inches|