The Computer
A Brief History of the Machine That Changed the World
by Eric G. Swedin and David L. Ferro
July 2022, 307pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6604-3
$69, £54, 60€, A95
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6605-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Americans directly use thousands of computers every day, most of them embedded in cars, appliances, buildings, and our industrial infrastructure.

This book, aimed at general readers, covers the entirety of computing history from antiquity to the present, placing the story of computing into the broader context of politics, economics, society, and more.

Computers dominate the world we live in, and this book describes how we got here. The Computer: A Brief History of the Machine That Changed the World covers topics from early efforts at mathematical computation back in ancient times, such as the abacus and the Antikythera device, through Babbage’s Difference Engine and the Hollerith Tabulating Machines of the 19th century, to the eventual invention of the modern computer during World War II and its aftermath. The scope of the text reaches into the modern day, with chapters on social media and the influence of computers and technology on recent elections.

The information in this book, perfect for readers new to the topic or those looking to delve into the history of computers in greater detail, can be accessed both chronologically and topically. With chapters focusing on larger time periods as well as shorter subsections covering specific people and topics, this book is designed to make the history of computing as approachable as possible.


  • Includes 10 chapters covering topics from antiquity to the present day
  • Tells the stories of those who made computing happen as well as specific inventions
  • Prioritizes the contextualization of scientific information in order to make it more accessible to readers interested in politics, economics, sociology, and more
  • Offers a glimpse into how computing will continue to progress and what that progress might look like in the future
Eric G. Swedin is professor of history at Weber State University in Ogden, UT. His publications include numerous articles, seven history books, four science fiction novels, and a historical mystery novel. His book When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis won the 2010 Sidewise Award for Best Long-Form Alternate History.

David L. Ferro is professor of computer science and dean of the College of Engineering, Applied Science, and Technology at Weber State University in Ogden, UT.
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