Monday, June 19, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: FIFTY MACHINES THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORY, Eric Chaline

Another book I found on the discount shelf that struck me as a good resource book. Honestly, what is wrong with these stores that don't realize the great value of these books they mark down to 1/3 their original price? However, I'm not going to complain too much, because yeah, it benefits me! I'm on a tight budget these days ...

FIFTY MACHINES THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORY kind of builds on each machine that came before it, moving up through history and the developments in technology. It's fascinating, giving just a taste of what the machine does, a little of the history that led to its invention, something about the inventor, even the personal life, the cultural changes and politics, that sort of thing.

The title page of each chapter offers a lot of info in a glance: designer, manufacturer, a picture of the gizmo, and then the category it belongs in -- industry, agriculture, transport, science, computing, energy, and home. There are quotes from the inventors, a thumbnail sketch of the gizmo in question, and timeline of similar devices. Very useful.

Looms, lathe, engines, early computers, sewing machine, ships, bicycle, telephone, etc. This could be the kind of book you just read for fun, learning bits and pieces that come in handy while watching Jeopardy or trying to get on Jeopardy to compete, or like I do, use it for research in writing, creating new worlds and figuring out what level of technology an alien or fantasy civilization has, that sort of thing. Try it. You might be surprised what you learn.

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