Chapter 1 Once Upon A Time
Oersted’s discovery of electromagnetism. Distant communication by the method of Chappe’s optical telegraphy. Symbols, codes, and codebooks. The birth of electrical telegraphy. The laying of the first transatlantic telegraph cable. Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone.
Chapter 2 The Science of Engineering
The synergy between science and engineering. Ohm’s Law and the standardization of resistance. Discovery of the electron and the truth about electricity. Methods of scientific enquiry. The thought experiments of Galileo, Ampère, and Einstein. The mathematical concept of orthogonality. Complex numbers, phasors, and vector analysis. The great seventeenth-century debate about vibrating strings. The birth of Fourier analysis. Transformation of engineering from art to science.
Chapter 3 Appreciating Noise
The unexplained experiments of Robert Brown. Thermodynamics reinvents itself and becomes statistical. Einstein’s explanation of Brownian Motion. The loading coil is invented by Pupin and Campbell. Edison Effect. The birth of electronics. Arnold’s vacuum tube amplifier realizes long-distance telephony. The study of electronic noise. Black’s negative feedback amplifier. Armstrong’s invention of wideband FM.
Chapter 4 A Measure of Information
Reeves’ invention of Pulse Code Modulation. Nyquist’s sampling theorem and zero ISI criterion. Early ideas of binary notation and digital representation. Shannon’s information theory and entropy.
Chapter 5 All in a Few Words
Optimized message transmission via Huffman coding. Lossless compression of Lempel and Ziv. Arithmetic coding is conceived at IBM. Run-length coding applied to facsimile transmissions. SMS and Twitter. JPEG image compression. MPEG video compression. A short history of HDTV. Techniques of voice compression. A study of psychoacoustics leading to the invention of MP3.
Chapter 6 Reaching for the Limit
Techniques of digital modulation. New terms and terminology for the digital world. Error-correcting codes of Hamming and Golay. The life and times of Galois. Application of block codes to CD recording. Coding theory inspires a grand mathematical discovery. The quiet arrival of convolutional codes. Viterbi algorithm. Error-correcting codes journey into deep space. Approaching the Shannon Limit.
Chapter 7 For Your Eyes Only
The Babington Plot and the death of Mary Queen of Scots. The Vigenère cipher. Principles of cryptography. Vernam cipher and the One Time Pad. German ciphering machines of the Second World War. The uneasy birth of DES. Solving puzzles and the classical knapsack problem. Data security for everyone via RSA. Zimmermann brings encryption to email. Keeping Wi-Fi links secure.
Chapter 8 In the Land of Ones and Zeros
The computing engines of Babbage. The algebra of George Boole and its application to relay circuits. Early modern computers. Flip-flops, paper tapes, and punched cards. Invention of the transistor at Bell Labs. Design techniques for digital machines. Invention of the Integrated Circuit. From mainframes to minicomputers.
Chapter 9 The Goodness of Being Soft
Programming of the Analytical Engine. The Universal Turing Machine. From assembly languages to high-level programming languages. A crisis gives birth to the discipline of software engineering. The birth of UNIX and C. The computer becomes personal. User interfaces become graphical. The mouse is born at Xerox PARC. A brief story of the IBM PC, Microsoft, and Apple.
Chapter 10 Beyond Borders
Strowger switches bring automation to telephone networks. Evolution of telephone switching from mechanical to electronic systems. Problems of data transmission on telephone lines. Invention of packet switching and the controversy surrounding it. Early years of ARPANET leading to the birth of TCP/IP. Bulletin boards, Usenet newsgroups, and online communities. Stallman’s vision of free software. From Internet to the World Wide Web. Content versus connectivity debate. Young companies emerge as leaders in a networked world.
Chapter 11 Bits on Wings
Maxwell proposes that light is an electromagnetic wave. The discovery of electrical resonance. Hertz’s stunning experimental verification on electromagnetic waves. The search for a suitable radio detector. Marconi proves transatlantic wireless transmission. Arthur Clarke proposes GEO satellites. The story of satellite communication. Early concepts of cellular networking. From AMPS to 3G and beyond.
Chapter 12 From Carbon to Silicon
From analogue to digital. Internet QoS. Moore’s Law and its counterparts. Cloud computing. A peek into the future. The wrong side of technology. The problem and challenge of design. Making computers smarter.