I found it a delight to read. The author is not trying to write yet another book on the history of computer developments but rather to show that those developments rely on a long history of humans creating solutions to problems that arose as they became more and more sophisticated in their treatment of concepts of information and its manipulation. In many ways it resembles a work of philosophy more than a technical history, but relies on explaining that technical history to make his points.
Michael R. Williams
Department of Computer Sciences, University of Calgary
Although the technology of information handling is at the centre of this book it is also about the people who devised and developed the technology and the historical context of when they were inventing the future. You need no knowledge of information technology to benefit from Stephen’s analysis and wisdom, and for this reason it should be essential reading not just for students on IT courses but for anyone who just for a moment wonders how we got to where we are today. Other authors who have attempted to do this include Ann Blair, Alex Wright and James Gleick. These authors may go into more detail on some aspects of BC but none have the balance and style of Stephen Robertson, who exudes a kind of quiet authority as he tells the story of BC. In the end it is his skill as a storyteller as well as a deep appreciation of information technologies (I use the plural deliberately) that makes this book a treasure to read and learn from. Without doubt it gets my award for My Book Of The Year. You don’t even need a budget to read it – the PDF is free to download.
Martin White, University of Sheffield
"B C, Before Computers: On Information Technology from Writing to the Age of Digital Data – Stephen Robertson". Informer, vol. Winter 2021, 2021.