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The Technical and Social History of Software Engineering

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Author/s    : Capers Jones
Publisher   : Addison-Wesley (Pearson)
Category   : Other
Review by : Campbell Ritchie
Rating        : 5 horseshoes

I appear to have enjoyed this book much less than Jeanne did. I thought it didn't quite fulfil its title; there was not enough about things technical. Why was it necessary to develop languages like FORTRAN in the first place? What is the difference between FORTRAN and later languages like Simula67 or SQL? I thought the book didn't answer those questions.

I was not convinced we covered the social aspects of software engineering either. Internet pornography is described, but not the great changes which have happened in people's attitudes to sex in the last ten years. I didn't think there was enough written about how shopping habits have changed, with effects on the architecture of towns, etc. Nor about people's dependence on mobile technology, which mostly did not exist twenty years ago.

I thought there was too much written about the history of companies, and perceived a bias towards describing companies in the USA.

The reading improves no end when it diverges from history. The sections about cyber‑crime and speculation about future developments are the high points of this book. I might have preferred more details in those parts, but that might have made the book too large. I would also have liked to see pictures of some of the greats of computing history or early machines.

The book is clearly printed and well bound, as a paperback. It has a good index, and is provided with a good bibliography, in an unusual format with half‑page descriptions of the sources.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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