Wilkes, Maurice V.
Date finished: 2000-06-29
Wilkes is one of the few grand old men of computing, having constructed the EDSAC at Cambridge in the second half of the 1940s. This little book collects his thoughts on computing history, and his speculations on where computing is going. Unfortunately the discussion is really superficial and unconvincing, as if the chapters were written after reading a bunch of BYTE articles about the topic, and ultimately reading it is a waste of time. I can certainly believe that Wilkes has something interesting to say, and some coherent technical arguments backing him up, but neither of those are apparent here. (Oh, one flash of interesting material: Wilkes argues that the performance improvement of chip architectures around the time RISC was proposed was actually due not so much to any inherent properties of RISC, as to the simultaneous increased adoption of simulation tools that provided much more quantitative and rigourous testing of designs. That was worthwhile reading, though it only takes up a few pages; I wish the rest of the book had been similarly thought-provoking.)
%T Computing Perspectives %@ 2000-06-29 %A Wilkes, Maurice V. %K computing