One of my goals for 2021 is to learn more about history of invention:
For years I've been shooting to read ~40 pages/day on most days, and pick clusters of five books to construct mental instruments to examine the world. More on that here. That works out to ~10k pages/year, which is about 20 books and four instruments.
I have two clusters in mind for 2021. The first is history of the computer revolution— stories of how iconic companies were started, what it was like on the inside, and biographies of iconic founders. (There are so many good books on this topic I might extend it into two clusters and read ten books in this area.) The next cluster is books on history of technology before the computer revolution— electricity, telegraph, human flight, radio, and space flight.
Many people asked for the reading list. I put these two book clusters together by getting recommendations from people I respect and spending way too much time reading book reviews. This is the list. I’ll be updating it as I read and using the following emoji to indicate status:
🚚 — ordered the book
📕 — have the book but haven’t started reading yet
📖 — currently reading
✅ — finished the book
Computer revolution cluster. The last two books here aren’t about computing, but they fit the spirit of the computer revolution:
Masters of Doom ✅ — this book is excellent and I very strongly recommend it.
Pre-computing cluster. The last book doesn’t exactly qualify, but again— it fits the spirit of the cluster.
The Wright Brothers ✅ — this book is excellent and I very strongly recommend it. Not quite as riveting as Masters of Doom, but fascinating and by no means boring.
This will last me through the first half of 2021. When I’m done with these ten books, I’ll construct two more clusters for the second half and publish a part II.
Enjoy, and please send book recommendations my way. Happy New Year!