Big things from little computers: a layperson's guide to personal computers. (book reviews) Stephen Gray.
Big Things From Little Computers:
A Layperson's Guide to Personal Computing,
The back cover of this thin, expensive book
includes rave notices by several people in the personal-computer business who call this guide "impressive,' who say if you want to learn about personal computing, this is the book,' and recommend it "to the professional and interested amateur.' The back cover also promises "dozens of examples from the lives of real people,' including a Wisconsin farmer, prominent anesthesiologist, biofeedback specialist, and a millionaire entrepreneur.
Well, it is a fairly good collection of information on personal computers, but there are others reviewed here during the past few months that are just as good.
The nine chapters are divided into three parts: The Past (what is a personal computer, history of computers, inside your personal computer), The Present (personal computing in school, the office, laboratory, studio, at home), and The Future (Toward the Year 2000). Three appendixes cover how to shop for a personal computer, a bibliography of books about computers (from crime to music), and a glossary.
For the $12.95, the book should include more than a few dozen photos and drawings; some of the drawings are more suited to a child's book. The author sometimes condescends to his audience, as though addressing children: "The disks look somewhat like little 45-RPM records except they are permanently packaged in little cases and are more flexible than 45s.' Just as there was nothing in that sentence to indicate that data cassettes usually closely resemble audio cassettes, the paragraph on floppy disks says absolutely nothing about whay they are made of; readers may well assume they are made of vinyl or a similar plastic.
However; there are plenty of examples "from the lives of real people,' which tell of all sorts of uses for computers and perhaps give readers an idea of what can be done with such machines.
Review Grade: B