Book Synopsis

The Infinite Bit is the story of digital technology from a scientific and engineering perspective. It brings to the reader the wonders of science and the ingenuity in engineering. It shows that technology is not just a tool but also an interesting process. It explores technology’s creation from the perspective of needs, problems, and ideas that shaped the digital revolution.

Developments are seen through the eyes and thoughts of inventors. In addition, these are placed within a historical context of the times in which they lived. The narration focuses on the joy of discovery and the impact of invention. Recent technology of the twenty-first century is traced to its beginnings, thus giving a perspective of evolution from simple origins to the complex systems of today. Controversies and engineering blunders have an important place in this story.

For the layperson, the book will serve as a readable introduction to terms we often encounter in everyday language but may not necessarily understand them—Twitter, SMS, email, digital encoding, online security, megapixels, gigabytes, resolution, HDTV, MP3, data modem, ADSL broadband, smartphones, bandwidth, and bit rate. These terms are merged into a continuous narrative that uses little technical jargon or mathematics.

The book starts with telegraphy and telephony. Telephony is perhaps the most important technology of the twentieth century. Many others, including the modern Web and cellular communications, evolved from it. Going beyond telecommunications, the development of computing machines is narrated in detail. Early history of the Internet, which later incorporated the World Wide Web, is given due importance. Condensed histories of famous corporations form a necessary part of the narrative—AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, and Google.

The book will benefit all users of digital technology who are curious to learn about its inventors, the inventions, and the contexts in which the technology evolved. Beyond students and practising engineers, the book’s non-technical style will appeal to many not necessarily from an engineering background.

12 chapters
600 pages
200,000 words
78 illustrations
12 cartoons
74 original quotations
  Telegraphy & Internet
Mobile & Wireless
Bits & Bytes
Digital & Analogue
Encoding & Decoding
Privacy & Sharing
Software & Hardware
Ones & Zeros
Science & Engineering
Speech & Data
Men & Machines
Patents & Pirates
Circuits & Packets
Web & Cloud
Protocols & Handshakes

5 thoughts on “Book Synopsis

  1. I want to purchase this book but it is no longer available on Amazon–is there a way for me to buy it i thought it was an outstanding read.

  2. A couple of comments posted on earlier this year:

    >> By sudeep
    I found the book very informative and interesting. The author has described the story of Digital Technology in a manner that appeals not only to a person familiar with this field, but also to anyone who wants to know about mankind’s passion and endeavors to reach where we are today, ubiquitous wireless technology.

    For experts in this field, reading this book is like connecting the dots of the various achievements and milestones in the history of digital communication. And in the process, it gives the reader a nice insight into the evolution of this technology. For an engineer, understanding the gap between great solution and its potential for success is always a mystery. Questions like why some technologies succeeded, why some failed, when can we say a solution is perfect, why some solutions had a big impact to society while others didn’t, etc. linger in everyone’s minds. This book helps to bridge that gap by taking the examples from the wonderful story of digital communications – highlighting the various paths taken and the lessons learnt by the great geniuses who tried.

    The style of writing used to cover the technical details also deserves a special mention. The complex details have been very nicely simplified and presented together with a good history of the surrounding circumstances during which the developments took place. This aspect of the book surely makes it appealing not only to an expert in this domain, but to any reader of this book. The background research needed to compile all the information and capture in such a interesting way is the biggest highlight of this book.

    >> By Andrew Schulman
    I have been reading the chapter on software, and it is just about the clearest explanation I’ve ever read of what software is, and how it evolved out of hardware. I hope the author comes out with a print version of this book, so I can buy it for friends who don’t have Kindles.

  3. Another review, this time from Boopathy Srinivasan:

    Digital technology will take shape in front of your eyes in Arvind’s textual narration. Most of the science books including those which we read during school times present you any technology as series of concepts. But in here, Arvind, presents the digital technology as series of stories of struggles embedded with technical explanations. It is not just storytelling, whenever some technical concepts need to be explained, Arvind, the author, changes himself from a storyteller to a communication teacher. In between, he will take the form of a philosopher by sharing his profound observations in the ways of nature.

    There are several engineers and other professionals whose approach towards the digital domain is rather professional or functional. They mostly see the digital technology as series of concepts. Books like Arvind’s “Infinite Bit” will help them see any scientific field as series of struggles by scientists, visionaries, inspired amateurs or outsiders. After reading, they will belong to this digital domain like a nationalist to his nation. It will create that understanding and sense of belonging in communication engineers. It is also suitable for any reader who wants to get closer to the digital technology.

    Bill Bryson, by his book “History of nearly everything”, removed my disinterest towards science and left me inspired. He did that by taking us through the time, unfolding several stories and events, introducing several people and their stories (tragedies and comedies), and providing keen insights. Arvind has achieved the same to a specific field of science, the digital technology in this book, “Infinite Bit”.
    I have illustrated the cartoons which appear at the start of each chapter. I am not promoting this book as I am involved in this project, I am promoting this book as I have no qualms in doing so and I believe this is a worthy and inspiring book textual documentary of digital technology. Such books could have kept me in engineering field. But I had quit much before reading Bill Bryson’s “History of nearly everything” or Arvind’s “Infinite Bit”.

    This is a very interesting textual documentary about the story of digital technology with historical and technical value.

  4. What my professor Lawrence Wong at the National University of Singapore had to say about the book:

    Congratulations. From the synopsis, it does look like it will be an interesting read, especially for those who are not from a technical background and are nevertheless fascinated with all things digital.

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