[vcf-midatlantic] Not quite so linked lists (of books)

Bill Degnan billdegnan at gmail.com
Mon Sep 14 19:48:11 EDT 2020

At the U of D when In taught computer history I had the students read a lot
of targeted vintage magazine articles, not so many books, other than
Hackers by Steven Levy.

I have my library categorized as follows
1.  Electronics/theory/IC catalogs
2.  Digital computing theory/applications
3.  Analog computing theory/applications
4.  Operating systems
5.  Programming Language theory
6.  CPU-specific theory/ application
7.  Manuals specific to one system or class
8.  Programming/user guides "   "   "
9.  Vintage books about computing "then" predicting future/cultural impact
10.  magazines (byte, dr Dobbs)
11. Journals
12. Vintage general computing newsletters
13.  Vintage hardware/ software/ manufacturer specific newsletters
14.  Newspaper articles
15.  Magainzes that are not normally about computing but for some reason
they have a computing feature/theme
16.  Artificial intelligence
17.  Children's books on computers

I have a lot of printed materials.

I like the old magazines' "prediction" articles and books about computing
history or speculation of the future written x years ago, from a past era


On Mon, Sep 14, 2020, 7:17 PM Adam Michlin via vcf-midatlantic <
vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:

> Hi Herb,
> I'm afraid I do not have good answers to your good questions.
> My day job is as a teacher, so I spend most of my time trying to decide
> how to introduce subjects to students who, by definition, lack
> experience in the subject. What I've learned in decades of teaching is
> that there really is no perfect way to introduce a subject and my way of
> successfully introducing a subject might be very different that another
> teacher's method.
> Such it is with any lists of books. There will never be a perfect list,
> but maybe I can develop at least one so-so list. To me, the best way to
> create such a list is to get recommendations from a wide variety of
> sources and have a back and forth conversation, at least to some extent,
> about why each person has selected their particular book and how it
> might introduce a subject to someone new to vintage computing and what
> our theoretical average person without experience might be interested in
> learning. Quite selfishly, I also get recommendations for books for my
> own personal education, but I can live with that because so does
> everyone else reading this list.
> Alas, I well appreciate that no hobby will ever agree on one single
> list. My list will be rudimentry and flawed, but will at least be an
> attempt, ever so imperfectly, to answer the question of "OK, I'm
> interested in vintage computing, whan can I read that will help me
> decide what I want to learn more about?".
> Guilty as charged for the sin of being vague and not only do I
> understand why you would choose not to participate, I think absolutely
> nothing less of you for doing so.
> Best wishes,
>           -Adam
> On 9/14/2020 5:48 PM, Herb Johnson via vcf-midatlantic wrote:
> > Pardon me, Adam, but I'm a little challenged by your proposal and
> > discussion and how it's progressing.
> >
> > First - it's so open ended and vague. What kind of vintage computing,
> > do you want these book-readers to be interested in, or become
> > interested in? What do you want them to do with that interest? What is
> > the audience, what people, do you want to reach with that interest -
> > who are they, what experiences or age or knowledge do you expect them
> > to have? And what's your goal, your end result, your benefit, and for
> > whom?
> >
> > Remember, you aren't just some person asking for books to read. I
> > presume you have goals for VCFed Incorporated, or the museum at
> > Infoage, or maybe something you personally or professionally are
> > working on. But I don't know!
> >
> > and, pardon me - I have decades of computing experience. There's 40 or
> > more years of "vintage computers" around from my own life; and older
> > computers still.  Plus all kinds of uses they were used for, ways they
> > can be used now, things people do with them. Or they make their own
> > vintage-class computers. Or they repair the old stuff, or hot-rod 'em.
> > For each activity, there's some kind of entry point, something one can
> > read about and get interested.
> >
> > That's point one - I don't know your plans, your interests, except as
> > you tell people why their books won't work for you. Or any other
> > details that inform me about a list YOU want for your purposes - as
> > you seemed to indicate.
> >
> > Someone suggested a book with technical content; you said it would
> > "scare off the average person". I'm of two minds about that thought.
> >
> > My initial reaction, as a technical person myself, is to be rude and
> > say "scare off average persons? *good*, weed them out early". I'm not
> > average. Many of the people I know in vintage computing, are not
> > "average", many of them have extraordinary skills or interests, or
> > enthusiasms.
> >
> > And: are the people in those suggested books, "average"? Are they
> > doing "average" things? NOt at the time, that's why there's a book
> > about 'em! And is working with old computers now, an "average" kind of
> > thing?
> >
> > And: If you are looking for readers, to do things or be interested in
> > things, or at least be interesting - why target books for *average
> > persons*?
> >
> > What's up with "average"?
> >
> > Along those lines: knowledge of Windows 10 and OS X as a kind of
> > credential? That's essentially a license to steer a modern computer.
> > As soon as such a person sees a command line, or a program listing, or
> > a computer chip - do you expect them to be particularly comfortable?
> > I find, quite frankly, I have to talk people *out of their Windows
> > expectations* as they deal with problems with their vintage computers.
> > What they expect, isn't what happens, isn't how they work.
> >
> > Finally: there's people of all kinds of ages and skills-sets, that may
> > want to look at vintage computing in some way. A particular book, may
> > be a point of entry - depends on that person, and the book's content
> > and context. IF that's your goal.
> >
> > This "average person" thing, and what you think "vintage computing" is
> > about, and what you want some book to accomplish for someone - that
> > all leaves me perplexed.
> >
> > But of course, the museum at Infoage attracts all kinds of people who
> > visit it. Many of them are "average" in some way - or seem that way.
> > Maybe you are trying to do some outreach, some kind of educational
> > thing. Or maybe you want bland-non-technical books about great heroes
> > in technology - gripping narratives that will hold the interest of
> > most anyone. I dunno!
> >
> > So I'm back to square one.
> >
> > If all you want is a conversation, well, be fair about that and say
> > so. Anyone can have some favorite books for some particular reason, if
> > they want to chat about both. And Adam,  if you have real goals and
> > intentions, and specific interests, be clear about them when asking
> > for a list from me. Then I can decide if I have some books worth YOUR
> > interests to read, and my interests to write about.
> >
> > Regards, Herb Johnson
> >
> >

More information about the vcf-midatlantic mailing list