Jacquard's Web: How a hand-loom led to the birth of the information age by James EssingerJacquard's Web: How a hand-loom led to the birth of the information age by James Essinger

Jacquard's Web: How a hand-loom led to the birth of the information age

byJames Essinger

Paperback | March 15, 2007

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Jacquard's Web is the story of some of the most ingenious inventors the world has ever known, a fascinating account of how a hand-loom invented in Napoleonic France led to the development of the modern information age. James Essinger, a master story-teller, shows through a series of remarkableand meticulously researched historical connections (spanning two centuries and never investigated before) that the Jacquard loom kick-started a process of scientific evolution which would lead directly to the development of the modern computer. The invention of Jacquard's loom in 1804 enabled the master silk-weavers of Lyons to weave fabrics 25 times faster than had previously been possible. The device used punched cards, which stored instructions for weaving whatever pattern or design was required; it proved an outstanding success. Thesecards can very reasonably be described as the world's first computer programmes. In this engaging and delightful book, James Essinger reveals a plethora of extraordinary links between the nineteenth-century world of weaving and today's computer age: to give just one example, modern computer graphics displays are based on exactly the same principles as those employed inJacquard's special woven tableaux. Jacquard's Web also introduces some of the most colourful and interesting characters in the history of science and technology: the modest but exceptionally dedicated Jacquard himself, the brilliant but temperamental Victorian polymath Charles Babbage, who dreamt ofa cogwheel computer operated using Jacquard cards, and the imaginative and perceptive Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron's only legitimate daughter.
James Essinger is a writer with a particluar interest in the history of ideas that have had a practical impact on the modern world. He is currently working on a novel about Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace and on a popular history of the written word.
Title:Jacquard's Web: How a hand-loom led to the birth of the information ageFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 7.72 × 5.08 × 0.71 inPublished:March 15, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0192805789

ISBN - 13:9780192805782

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements1. The engraving that wasn't2. A better mouse-trap3. The son of a master weaver4. The emperor's new clothes5. From weaving to computing6. The difference engine7. The analytical engine8. A question of faith and funding9. The lady who loved the Jacquard loom10. A crisis with the American census11. The first Jacquard looms that wove information12. The birth of IBM13. The Thomas Watson phenomenon14. Howard Aiken dreams of a computer15. IBM and the Harvard Mark 116. Weaving at the speed of light17. The futureIndex

Editorial Reviews

`it certainly does have an original perspective, and I find the thread that runs through it - the relation of everything that has come since to the principle of the Jacquard loom - quite compelling.'Professor Walter Gratzer, King's College London