Essential Reading for Back-to-School

Essential Reading for Back-to-School

Today, four of the titles on the Essential Knowledge series are featured in Amazon’s Back-to-School promotion. Each will be discounted to $2.99 all day today. 

“Faith in the combined virtues of universal education and technical progress meant that from the nineteenth century onward, any new breakthrough in communications technology was almost immediately put to work toward the goal of educating the masses, with MOOCs being just the latest manifestation of this historic impulse” – Jonathan Haber, author of MOOCs

We asked John Jordan, Nayan Ruparelia, and Paul E. Ceruzzi to comment briefly on what essential knowledge they hope students might get from their books. 

Computing: A Concise History by Paul Ceruzzi.

We all are living in a “digital” age. This book traces the origin of that term as it applies to computers. The term came from a top-secret meeting of scientists during World War II, who were examining a number of proposals for anti-aircraft aiming devices. They were thinking of the way we count with the ten digits of the human hand, but of course since the 1940s nearly all digital computers use the binary system: ones and zeros.

There are many stories about the origin of the Internet, and who the real “fathers” (and “mothers”) were. This book argues that the Internet had its origins on board a chartered train in the fall of 1962, carrying attendees from a conference at a resort in the Allegheny mountains to Washington, DC. One attendee, J.C.R. Licklider  took advantage of the captive audience on the train (they had no choice but to listen: there was no e-mail or cell phones back then) to enlist the attendees to support a network of computers. By the time the train got to Washington, the seeds of what would become the Internet were planted.


Robots by John Jordan

Robots in movies do such a poor job of helping people learn about real-world robots. This book provides a clear guide to what robots really are and what they can (and cannot) do. 

The book explains how and why  the field of robotics made such significant advances in the past several years.

Self driving cars are a hot topic right now. The book helps explain how they are a special kind of robot. 


Cloud Computing by Nayan Ruparelia

Cloud computing is the latest technology that is disrupting everyday life, and this book discusses the various facets of cloud computing in terms of best practices, innovation, security and data integrity. The book is ideal as an introduction to students—majoring in any discipline—that want to understand the merits and use of the latest technology innovation that will affect their everyday lives.