Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pioneering American Computer Geniuses.

Northrup, Mary.  Pioneering American Computer Geniuses.     Enslow  2014  112p      $31.93  ISBN 978-0-7660-4167-7  ms/jr  series: Inspiring Collective Biographies  Biography  VG-BN 

This volume is an update to Northrup’s 1998 text entitled American Computer Pioneers, and it contains a great deal of new information given the remarkable growth of computer technology in the past fifteen years.  In this accessible and informative text, readers are presented with biographical sketches of thirteen American innovators in the realm of computer science, moving through history from Herman Hollerith and John von Neumann to Marc Hannah and Marc Andreessen.  Naturally the best-known innovators like Grace Hopper, the Steves (Jobs and Wozniak), and Bill Gates are not overlooked, but they are not given undue attention either. Each biography is approximately ten pages in length, with some entries combining subjects that were known for their collaborations, like Jobs and Wozniak.  They include black-and-white photographs of the subjects, which do not enliven the text.  As with most Enslow publications, the book contains further reading suggestions and an index, but the expected higher reading level is indicated by the presence of scholarly chapter notes at the end of the text.  This book is great as a starting point for reports and contains the right kind of information to spark curiosity, as well as explaining the subjects’ contributions without using technical jargon.

The six Inspiring Collective Biographies cover a variety of topics, from American jazz to World War II generals, at a 5th to 9th-grade reading level.     

Summary: Brief biographies of thirteen American innovators in the realm of computer science bring the past history and present story of computers to life in this accessible and informative text geared toward readers in grades 5-9.

Computer scientists, Inventors                        --Bethany Geleskie

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