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Technology

. . . Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. . . .

 

This collection of interesting books are what I classify loosely as Technology. These books discuss our technological world, covering aircraft, spacecraft, computers, semiconductors, and telecommunications.

Flying High—the Story of Boeing by Eugene Rodgers

 

Flying High tells the story of the evolution of the Boeing Aircraft Company, and in parallel, the story of the aviation and airliner industries.

Halfway To Anywhere by G. Harry Stine

 

Halfway to Anywhere is Harry Stine's attempt to get people interested in cheap, simple, Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) spacecraft that can provide re-usable launch vehicles to carry massive tonnages of freight into orbit.

The title is inspired by a comment by the late Robert A. Heinlein—Get to low Earth orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the solar system.

Harry Stine was worked in the aerospace industry for decades. He has written many scientific articles and books, including The Space Enterprise, and has published several science fiction novels, including Class Six Climb and Shuttle Down.

How the World Was One: Beyond the Global Village by Arthur C. Clarke

 

Arthur C. Clarke is best known for the concept of the synchronous communications sattelite, which he first described in a Wireless World article in 1945.

In How the World was One, Clarke traces the development of our communication systems from the first trans-Atlantic cables, through to modern communication satellites (both synchronous and asynchronous).

Key Technologies for the Twenty First Century by Scientific American

 

Key Technologies for the Twenty First Century is a collection of thirty essays from Scientific American.

Categories include Information Technologies, Transportation, Medicine, Machines, Materials, and Manufacturing, Energy and Environment, and Living with New Technologies.

Microcosm: The Quantum Revolution in Economics and Technology by George Gilder

 

Microcosm tells an engaging story of the development of the microchip, the people behind the development, and what the technology means to society.

Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed by Ben Rich

 

Skunk Works is the story of the top secret installation at Lockheed's plant in Burbank, California. The story is told by Ben Rich, who headed the Skunk Works for years after taking over from Clarence (Kelly) Johnson.

Read about the evolution of the Skunk works from the development of the U2, the SR71 Blackbird, up to the F117A stealth bomber that flew in the Gulf War of 1991.

The Super Men; The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer by Charles J. Murray

 

The Supermen is an account of the development of super-computers. The story spends much of its time on Seymour Cray, for obvious reasons. Cray could well be considered the father of the super-computer.

Telecosm: How Infinite Bandwidth Will Revolutionize Our World by George Gilder

 

George Gilder's previous book—Microcosm—focussed on the history of the micro-chip. Telecosm addresses the notion of “infinite bandwidth”, and what we can do in a communications world where bandwidth is essentially unlimited. Gilder is one of the very few authors to acknowledge Taichi Sakaiya's philosophy that societies place high value on “those commodities that are in greatest abundance”.

Twenty First Century Jet: The Making and Marketing of the Boeing 777 by Karl Sabbagh

 

This book tells the story of the development of the Boeing 777—the latest airplane to come from the Boeing Aircraft Company. Development of the 777 marked a major breakthrough in aircraft design—the entire aircraft was designed with computer-aided design tools and no mockups.

Wide Body: The Triumph of the 747 by Clive Irving

 

This book tells the story of how Boeing essentially bet the entire company on the development of the Boeing 747, arguably the most successful aircraft in the history of aviation.

Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age by Michael Hiltzik

 

For two decades, the Xerox Corporation provided unlimited funding to its renegade think tank, the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), located near Stanford University. Here, some of the most talented computer scientists in the world created one industry-altering breakthrough after another-breakthroughs that Xerox persistently failed to bring to market. Based on extensive interviews with the cast or characters who actually lived the story-the scientists, engineers, dreamers, and executives who broke the boundaries of computer technology, Dealers of Lightning is an in-depth account of the ideas and inventions that changed the world.

To Engineer Is Human by Henry Petroski

 

The moral of this book is that behind every great engineering success is a trail of often ignored (but frequently spectacular) engineering failures. Petroski covers many of the best known examples of well-intentioned but ultimately failed design in action—the galloping Tacoma Narrows Bridge (which you've probably seen tossing cars willy-nilly in the famous black-and-white footage), the collapse of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel walkways—and many lesser known but equally informative examples.

Beyond the Horizons: The Lockheed Story by Walter J. Boyne

 

This book describes the history of the Lockheed aerospace company from its beginning in 1926, its survival of the Great Depression, and its growth during World War II, the cold war, and America's ventures into space. Boyne ends his narrative with Lockheed's merger with Martin Marietta in 1995.

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