Charles Eames
Ray Eames
Glen Fleck Editor
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1973, English
Nonfiction, Digital Media Design
ISBN: 9780674156258

From the Publisher. A Computer Perspective is an illustrated essay on the origins and first lines of development of the computer. The complex network of creative forces and social pressures that have produced the computer is personified here in the creators of instruments of computation, and their machines or tables; the inventors of mathematical or logical concepts and their applications; and the fabricators of practical devices to serve the immediate needs of government, commerce, engineering, and science. The book is based on an exhibition conceived and assembled for International Business Machines Corporation. Like the exhibition, it is not a history in the narrow sense of a chronology of concepts and devices. Yet these pages actually display more true history (in relation to the computer) than many more conventional presentations of the development of science and technology.

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Jonathan Olivares

I could speak for days about the significance and beauty of this book, which tells the history of the computer from 1890 to 1950. The book is based on the exhibition of the same title that the Eames Office designed for IBM, which was on display from 1971 until 1975 in IBM’s Corporate Exhibit Center in New York City. Its format is made up of sequences of images that occupy the central portion of each spread, with captions above and below. This creates a dynamic reading experience, and prefigures the basic format of the scrolling blog, or twitter feed, where a stream of text and images are in constant referral to each other. Mixing scientific, mathematical, mechanical, and cultural information, the book portrays its subject through a broader lens than is typically used in books about history. The juxtapositions of images, which include photographs of inventors, scaled reproductions of important documents, news clippings, cut-out photographs of tools and machines, and stills from popular films, are as beautiful as they are enlightening. While the content is interesting to me, the real fascination for me lies in the format, which offers a finely conceived lens for viewing history, and could be applied to any number of subjects.

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