Below is a guest reading list from Daniel A. Gross, journalist-in-residence at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. He also writes and produces radio about the lives of stuff and the stuff of life.
Journalism has been called the first draft of history. Here are 5 technology stories that belong in the second draft. Like a lot of technology journalism, they’re each focused on an emerging future, which at times makes them a bit breathless with excitement. But unlike most technology journalism, these stories have only gotten better with age. They’re sprinkled with uncanny predictions and unexpected depth about the devices we’ve come to take for granted.
As We May Think (Vannevar Bush, The Atlantic, 1945)
Secrets of the Little Blue Box (Ron Rosenbaum, Esquire, 1971)
Soul of a New Machine (Tracy Kidder, serialized in The Atlantic, 1981)
The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce (Tom Wolfe, Esquire, 1983)
The king of offbeat cultural criticism tries his hand at decoding the computer chip. Esquire said this was the last magazine story Wolfe ever wrote. It takes you from small-town Iowa to boom-town Silicon Valley, in pursuit of the humble transistor and the elaborate technologies that followed.